One year later, the cop trio who defeated Mr. X and his crime syndicate – Axel Stone, Adam Hunter, and Blaze Fielding – have moved on since their vigilante crusade. Axel is a part time bodyguard while Blaze is a dance instructor. Adam is back with the police force and resides with his kid brother, Eddie ‘Skate’ Hunter, in a small house.
One day, Skate calls up Axel once he finds his home in ruins and Adam missing. They soon come across a picture of Adam chained to a wall and kneeling before Mr. X, whose crime syndicate once again dawns upon the city and violence reigns once more although to far extreme levels.
Axel and Blaze reunite along with Adam’s brother, Skate, and Max Thunder – a professional wrestler and friend of Axel. Together, the four of them set out to rescue Adam and defeat Mr. X who now resides on a desolate island.
You will notice a vast and amazing improvement over the first “Streets of Rage” here with smooth animations that all vary with the punches and weapon attacks from every character. This is not bad at all for 16 megs. Characters now appear to be huge and life-like, mind you, there can be over seven to ten of them on screen all at the same time. You will be battling many different enemies all that have different outfits, colors, hair, and what have you. You will be impressed by the widely detailed and colorful backgrounds here as well.
Once again, the controls stay true to the original game, basing it on which of the four characters here that you select. Skate and Blaze are the most agile although not the most powerful while Axel and Max are the most powerful but probably not the most agile (okay, maybe a little bit). Other than that, there’s seven difficult levels here to fight across and you won’t be able to access the hardest level unless you complete the most difficult one (and you can’t cheat).
“Streets of Rage 2” plays and follows the original very closely but with lots of improvements and refining in the gameplay department. Instead of calling police cars for back up firepower, your characters are awarded with their own special attack combo (that could deplete some of their health, mind you). The enemies even got attention this time as well, they all have life gauges whereas bosses only had them last time around; there is also a lot more variety in the types of baddies you’ll come across such as bikers, ninjas, robots, kickboxers, etc.
Levels are much longer now with a variety of settings just like last time, here they range from: Downtown, Bridge Under Construction, Amusement Park, Stadium, Cruise Ship, Jungle, Munitions Plant, and finally, the Syndicate Stronghold. Like in the original, you will battle all the bosses one last time on the final level. Speaking bosses, there’s plenty of cool and new flesh to bash around here – A corrupt bartender whom you’ll fight in the back alley of a bar during a thunderstorm (one of the best fights in the game), a jet-pack equipped baddie named Jet, a robot, Mr. X, Mr. X’s assistant, and more.
Although “Streets of Rage” was a decent and defining beat ’em up side-scroller, it wasn’t anything spectacular, so-to-speak. “Streets of Rage 2” is a vastly superior sequel that improves and builds upon the original in many ways with larger environments, a whole onslaught of moves to use in combat, a way cooler soundtrack, and larger than life characters and graphics. “Streets of Rage 2” is definitely more two player fun like the original, although it only has one ending unlike the original which provided a bad ending and a good ending depending on your actions at the end. Overall, this game is a heavy-hitting beat ’em up beast.