A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Streets of Rage 4 is an arcade action game available for download on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and Windows PCs. The game's the latest chapter in the long-running and popular Streets of Rage franchise, although it's the first game in the series in more than 25 years. Players take on the role of characters fighting against waves of criminals and corrupt authority figures that have taken control of a city. Players use punches, kicks, weapons found in the environment, and special moves to eliminate their opponents. While combat is the point of the game, there's no blood or gore shown, even when players use knives or swords on foes. Similarly, while some fights take place in a tavern and characters use alcohol bottles to attack targets, no one's shown drinking or using substances. Some female characters also wear tight clothing and short outfits, revealing most of their legs and a lot of cleavage.
What's it about?
STREETS OF RAGE 4 is an action beat 'em up that takes place ten years after the events of Streets of Rage 3. Thanks to Axel Stone, Blaze Fielding, and Adam Hunter, the criminal syndicate of Mr. X organization in Wood Oak City was dismantled. Unfortunately, his children, the Y Twins, have spent the past rebuilding and strengthening a new gang with larger and deadlier schemes. Fortunately, Axel and Blaze recognize the dangers posed, and take to the streets along with two new allies: Cherry Hunter, Adam's daughter, and Floyd Iraia, a muscular construction worker with cybernetic arms. These new heroes will fight their way through twelve stages packed with enemies that want to sow chaos and destruction, using their fists and feet to take out enemies. Along with the story mode and five separate difficulty levels, there's a harder Arcade mode that gives players only three lives to complete the entire game without any saves. There's also a Boss Rush mode to fight the bosses of each stage one after the other, and a Battle mode to pit the playable heroes against each other to see which character is best. Two players can play on the same machine, or up to four players can fight enemies online. Think you have what it takes to clean up the Streets of Rage?
Is it any good?
It may have taken 25 years, but this arcade beat 'em up is so much fun and so packed with excellent gameplay that it's a must have for any action fan. Like many other arcade games, Streets of Rage 4 is a good vs. evil tale that's incredibly easy to get into thanks to a simple control scheme that's incredibly deep. You only have a few buttons to pull off attacks, and you can button mash your way through some parts, but it's the timing and combo of button presses that unleash strong blows. Rage 4 even adds a risk/reward feature with its special offensive and defensive moves. These are incredibly powerful moves at the cost of some health from your character, but if you manage to strike enemies without getting hit, you can regain that lost energy. And while this is great as a single player game, it's even better as a multiplayer experience, where you and friends can take enemies on and juggle opponents in a destructive ballet of fists and feet. It's almost as good as the classic arcade machines without needing a roll of quarters to keep the fun going.
But speaking of arcades, the extra content that's been packed into this game shows just how much of a love letter Rage 4 is to the franchise and arcades in general. Arcade mode really tests the teamwork and skill of you and your friends removing the option to continue and only giving you a handful of lives. The Boss Rush is also a lot of fun, and lets you perfect your strategies against each boss, one after the other, until you complete the gauntlet or fall in battle. There's also plenty of galleries showing the development of characters, environments, and even how the developers managed to bring back some of the classic characters to this updated title. That's right – there are unlockable characters like Skate and even the pixelated versions of Axel and Blaze included, along with the options to revert the soundtrack to the classic 8-bit tunes and a CRT filter to present the grainy screen lines found on arcade cabinets. The biggest flaw here is that the Battle mode is pretty simple, and unless you're playing friends that have an opinion about who's really the best fighter of the bunch, you're not going to spend a lot of time here. But that's just fine, because there's plenty of life to be found in on these digital streets.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games. Is the impact of the violence in Streets of Rage 4 affected by the cartoonish nature of combat, which doesn't show any blood or gore? Would the impact be more intense if the violence was more realistic?
What's the appeal of revisiting certain franchises years after their initial release? Is it just a sense of familiarity and nostalgia, or do these franchises still have something to offer to a new generation?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $24.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: DotEmu
- Release date: April 30, 2020
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs
- ESRB rating: T for Cartoon Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes
- Last updated: October 21, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.