Streets of Rage 4 Review - Is It Worth It?

This game is a certified hit -- and there's more to dish out!

About Streets of Rage 4:

Streets of Rage was a monumental landmark in beat ‘em up gaming. After arcade titles like Final Fight hit the scene – it became clear that the next big brawling evolution would come when titles would hit home consoles that could rival the quality of their coin-op counterparts.

Sadly, for a long time that was much easier said than done. When Final Fight was ported to the Super Nintendo, the results, while impressive, were still unfortunately rather gimped. One of the playable fighters was cut from the game’s roster and the multiplayer mode was axed entirely. 

Playable? – Absolutely. Comparable in quality? – Not really.

Sega hit the scene next in 1991 with a 2D brawler inspired by the hit title, called Bare Knuckle in Japan, and localized to be Streets of Rage in the west. It was fantastic. Three playable fighters with unique stats, a fairly meaty beat ‘em up campaign with nail bitingly tense boss fights, a unique physics-based throwing system, and best of all, MULTIPLAYER.

By the time the second game had come out it was clear that this franchise was no fluke. With four fighters this time around, two of which being newcomers, an even longer campaign, and best of all new special moves – this title improved upon the last in EVERY conceivable way and is still considered a classic to this very day.

The third game was more divisive, though not at all a poor game by any stretch of the imagination. As a matter of fact, it kept much of what worked in Streets of Rage 2, but with relatively little in terms of new mechanics – besides a dodge roll and sprinting for each fighter this time around. It also was strangely story-oriented – which was new for the series.

And after 1993 – there was nothing… Only retro remasters and emulated compilations until 2020, when the highly anticipated fourth title hit the scene.

With a brand new hand-animated art style, many within the classic Streets of Rage fandom were weary of the change in artistic direction, quick to question the lack of traditional pixel art that the vintage entries in the series all shared.

Streets of Rage 4 Story:

Heir to the throne: Now that Mr. X is gone, his children have taken his place.

10 years after the events of Streets of Rage 3 – our heroes are forced back into the fight when long dead rival Mr. X’s children, the Y twins, try to reignite his dying empire. The city is once again thrown into disarray when the Y twins plan to hypnotize the civilian population with music…

Yeah, it’s not really anything to write home about – especially after the more intense narrative that the Japanese version of Streets of Rage 3 had throughout its expansive campaign that involved stopping a war between two rival nations – after a nuclear catastrophe already ravaged an entire city district.

But, you know what? – That’s okay. Not everything has to be a potentially world-ending disaster. In this case, the simpler narrative harkens back to the first two entries in the series, which is okay!

Streets of Rage 4 Combat/Gameplay:

Fighting in the streets: Grab your squad and take back your city!

Streets of Rage 4 is a fantastic example of what modern technology and game design can add to somewhat retro titles. In this case, the 2D brawler is often somewhat simple in its nature of moving from left to right, mashing the attack button and utilizing a few varied combos.

Rather than risk over-modernizing this genre into something unrecognizable – Streets of Rage 4 opts to provide smaller, quality-of-life improvements to the game feel that don’t shed the title of its early 1990s identity.

Basic attack combos and blitz moves are back – as are special moves, now with added ariel specials and a super move that requires stars – (there are up to four that can be equipped in a level) – that create a large screen-clearing shockwave.

Some controls, such as picking up an item and executing a backward-facing attack, now have their own dedicated buttons, but for those with a retro sensibility, they can be configured to play exactly like they did in the original games.

More curiously, in many ways the game design in Streets of Rage 4 borrows more from the second installment than it does the third! For example, sprinting, which was added to every character’s move set in Streets of Rage 3, is once again relegated to select characters ala Streets of Rage 2. 

The most fun of all, however, has to be the new juggling mechanics which allow for an excessive amount of battering to net even more insane combos.

Whilst characters don’t exactly level-up per se, at the end of each stage you are awarded a ranking which fills a meter to gain unlockables. Each unlockable unlocks a new retro character from one of the previous games, complete with their vintage move set.

Streets of Rage 4 Quest/Mission System:

While there aren’t exactly missions outside of the standard beat ‘em up fare, a DLC did eventually get added to the game that includes 3 additional playable characters and a new Survival Mode.


Survival mode is a rogue-like experience where you continue to play random or pre-selected level paths that continue infinitely until your character dies. Upon clearing a room of enemies you are equipped with character buffs that strengthen your skills to compensate for the rapidly increasing enemy difficulty.

Competing in survival mode unlocks new moves for EVERY character on the roster, so once you’ve grinded it out completely, you’ll have an additional move set for each playable character. All in all, survival mode is a great addition once you’ve played through story mode and unlocked the full roster of characters – from that point on survival mode serves to grind them to their full potential.

Streets of Rage 4 Graphics:

 Stylish: With gorgeous hand-drawn animation, Streets of Rage 4 creates a unique identity for itself that still feels familiar.

Utilizing a brand-new visual style was a bit controversial when the game was first unveiled, but the community has largely embraced the gorgeous hand-animated visuals that Streets of Rage 4 boasts.


The artists at Lizardcube have done exceptional work at reinterpreting the characters of old, and while it may not be the pixel art of old, nor a new realistic take on the series – it does exude a modern edge to a long dormant franchise. I, personally, welcome this change – proudly believing Streets of Rage 4 to be among the best-looking games of 2020.

Streets of Rage 4 Developer:

Developed by Guard Crush Games, Streets of Rage 4 has been extremely receptive to fan feedback with producer Dotemu and animation studio Lizardcube all sharing details about various bug-fixes in patches and notes on their respective twitter accounts. They even announced that an additional balancing patch will be coming over a year after the game’s DLC content launched.


One sound effect was even changed before the DLC launched because it was uncomfortable to a select few that had tinnitus. Overall, I can’t honestly recall a time in which I have seen a better community/developer relationship – or just better PR for a video game in general.

Streets of Rage 4 Price:

Streets of Rage 4 is now available for $24.99 with the Mr. X Nightmare DLC currently listed for $7.99 for Switch, PS4, Xbox One and PC. The game was also recently ported to mobile for $5.99 with the DLC listed at $2.99. There are no in-app purchases or pay to win elements, thankfully.


  • A faithful sequel that maintains the feel of the original
  • Great action and responsive controls.
  • Beautiful hand-animated visuals.
  • Lots of scaled difficulty options.
  • TONS of unlockables.
  • Best-in-class beat ‘em up mechanics.


  • Lots of grinding to unlock everything
  • Difficulty in randomized Survival Mode can rise quickly due to RNG.



Streets of Rage 4 does everything it sets out to do and more. It serves as one of the best retro revivals out there! Grand Upper indeed!


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Wyatt Paul is a geek at heart, with a range of interests that transcend various media. A proficient screenwriter, he loves to use his attention to detail to elaborate on retro games. Read/play on!
Gamer Since: 2003
Currently Playing: Retro games! Genesis/NES/SNES
Top 3 Favorite Games:Portal 2, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Batman: Arkham City

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