I think if I was asked to compose any list of classic games then I would be hard pressed to not include Streets of Rage II. It was one of the first games I remember actually buying myself with my own money and needless to say I made sure I got return on that investment.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Streets of Rage series, basically you play as one of a group of friends battling across a neon lit city, punching out wave after wave of thugs and hoodlums as strange electro/techno blares from your television making your parents think you’re into hardcore raving.
The game itself is exceptionally well put together, the levels flow perfectly, increase in difficulty gradually but not to the detriment of the overall pace and if you’re good enough you can get through it in just a few hours. If you wanted to slow that down then there is a two player option which quickly degenerates into you both standing at opposite sides of the screen throwing lead pipes at each other because one of you “stole” the last health power-up.
What made Streets of Rage II really great was that it was a massive improvement over the first title, a better, more diverse choice of player characters, upgrading the special attacks so they could be linked into combo attacks, better stage design, improved animations the complete upgrade package, yet Streets of Rage III, the long awaited sequel was widely panned, perhaps mostly due to its late launch when the Mega Drive was on its deathbed or perhaps just due to it being slightly poorer than II in a time when quality gameplay was one of the most important factors in a title.
The combination of fast paced beat-em-up action, its awesome music and general nostalgia combine to really make this one of Sega’s stand out titles.