One of the great pleasures of recent years has been the revival of the side-scrolling beat ’em up – a genre whose prime was in the 90s, and one that’s since been entangled and obscured by the crushing vines of nostalgia. I’ve always loved the swagger and style of Streets of Rage, only to go back to the original trilogy and be somewhat disappointed by the simplicity of it all.
It took Dotemu’s unlikely revival of Sega’s series with 2020’s Streets of Rage 4, developed alongside Guard Crush Games and Lizardcube, for me to fall back in love with the genre. Here was the scrolling beat ’em up modernised not just in terms of how it looked – though it did look sublime – but also in how it played, with a variety and depth that makes it a pleasure to return to on each and every one of the many platforms it’s found its way onto now.
Dotemu’s next revival, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge, already had my attention, and having played through a couple of levels it’s got me thinking this could well be the measure of Streets of Rage 4. Taking the much-loved multiplayer 1987 outing as an inspiration – and thus drawing upon Konami’s arcade golden age – while also steering closer to the original animated series, this is another side-scrolling beat ’em-up that feels remarkably fresh.