Christmas may have come early for us 90s Sega kids. French retro developer and publisher DotEmu (Windjammers 2) announced that they're bringing back Sega's classic brawler series. Fans of eating chicken-a-la-barrel, 2 Unlimited-inspired beats and whacking stereotypical 90s neon-haired punks with metal pipes have a lot to look forward to with Streets Of Rage 4.
It's going to be a three-studio collaboration, without Sega's involvement. DotEmu are taking lead, Lizardcube (Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap) are on art and relative unknowns Guard Crush Games on code. No platforms or release date have been announced yet, but I'd be surprised if this wasn't PC-bound.
The reveal trailer below and a handful of screenshots give us our first glimpse at Streets Of Rage 4. Lizardcube's artistic input is clear, especially in the detailed backdrops, full of unnecessary (but charming) clutter. In the few seconds of gameplay shown, character animations and poses feel authentic to the originals too, with Axel's signature rolling uppercut having some satisfying heft to it, although the jury is still out on the beard. So far only two playable characters have been shown - Axel and Blaze, with original trio member Adam absent - here's hoping for more later.
DotEmu's three-part crew have a lot of retro experience between them. Guard Crush are the most interesting choice - Streets Of Fury might have had goofy digitised costumed dorks instead of hand-drawn sprites, but there was a shockingly good game beneath the janky art, closer in spirit to Treasure's Guardian Heroes than anything else. So far there's no mention on who's handling the soundtrack, but the official site does name-drop original composers Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima as key to the series, so fingers crossed.
Art-wise, I'm impressed so far, but I'm very picky about my scrolling brawlers. The genre is something of a lost art, only just being rediscovered now, with the excellent Fight'N Rage being my favourite in recent years. One thing I'm hoping to see recaptured in this sequel is Streets Of Rage's high skill ceiling, providing skilled players opportunity to avoid almost all damage, even on higher difficulty levels. It's a tough job, but I think this team might just be able to pull it off.
There's currently no announced platforms or release date for Streets Of Rage 4, but you can take a peek at the official site here for some more early screenshots.