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Streets of Rage 4, known as Bare Knuckle IV in Japan (ベア・ナックル IV), is a side-scrolling beat 'em up developed by Guard Crush Games and Lizardcube, released by Dotemu in April 30, 2020 for the PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows, Linux and Mac OS. It was also released for the now defunct Stadia in July 15, 2021, and later for Android and iOS in May 24, 2022. The game was made in an official association with SEGA of Japan.

It is the first new installment in the series since Streets of Rage 3. The game takes place a decade after the events of Bare Knuckle III, disregarding the altered storyline of Streets of Rage 3.

Story[]

Ten years have passed since the fall of Mr. X and his Syndicate. The city has been at peace... until now. A new crime empire has arisen, corrupting everything good in the city. It is rumored to be led by Mr. X's own children, the twins Mr. Y and Ms. Y.

Former detectives Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding join forces with their old friend's daughter, Cherry Hunter, along with Floyd Iraia, an apprentice of the brilliant Dr. Zan.

Together these four vigilantes stand against the Y Syndicate on the... Streets of Rage 4.

Gameplay Features[]

Streets of Rage 4 has eight modes:

  • Story: the player goes through each stage starting with a set amount of lives, with the score resetting at the end of each stage. Progress is saved between stages, with the player being able continue from where they stopped. The game supports up to three save files. Players can retry the current stage at any given time through the pause menu.
  • Arcade: the player goes through all the stages with limited lives, and must restart the whole game if all lives are lost. Bonus lives earned through score points are kept between stages. The player cannot retry on the pause menu. Unlocked after beating the game on any difficulty.
  • Stage Select: the player can select any stage and play at any difficulty. Once the picked stage is completed, the player is sent back to the stage select screen. Unlocked after beating the game on any difficulty.
  • Boss Rush: the player fights all bosses in a row, in a small arena. Each boss spawns in the order they're fought on Story / Arcade Modes. The player only has one life. Unlocked after beating the game on any difficulty.
  • Survival: the player faces off against endless enemy waves of ever increasing difficulty, and picking up power-ups between waves. Only available through the Mr. X Nightmare DLC.
  • Battle: a player-versus-player mode, with up to eight selectable arenas.
  • Online: the player can queue to find matches being hosted online. To host a match, the player can enable online when playing in any of the modes listed above.
  • Training: the player can go through various lessons to teach the fundamentals of the game, as well advanced techniques. There is a free training option where players can practice their combos, and place enemies and items, which can be unlocked in other modes.

Players have a limited number of lives depending on the difficulty setting; if the player loses all their lives, they have to restart the stage from the beginning. During Story Mode, on harder difficulties, when selecting the "Retry" option on the pause menu, the player can change their character, and also pick "Assists", which are namely increased lives and Star Moves; however, doing so adds a penalty to the score at the end of the level, with a higher penalty the more assists the player picks.

The game can be played locally with up to four players, while online play allows up to two players simultaneously. On Steam, it is possible to player with four players online through the remote play system. Friendly fire is now a toggle option, and is turned off by default. When playing online, if either player leaves the session, the match disconnects.

After each stage players are graded on their performance, with points being added to a meter which serves to unlock retro characters from the Sega Genesis titles. In addition to the main Story Mode, the player can also unlock a Stage Select, as well as Arcade Mode (play through the game without being able to retry) and Battle Mode (a player versus player mode).

There are six difficulties in the game: Easy, Normal, Hard, Hardest, Mania and Mania+. Each subsequent level of difficulty increases the number of enemies on-screen, features different and stronger variants of said enemies appearing earlier, as well smarter AI. On the hardest setting, Mania+, enemies will move much faster, and will also read the player's input to move accordingly and avoid attacks; in this difficulty players will also find red arcade cabinets in certain areas, also known as "cursed arcades", and destroying them will summon a retro boss to fight the player (the cabinet will disappear if the player defeats all enemies on the area before destroying it).

In addition to the original soundtrack composed by Olivier Derivière and guest musicians, there is also an option to play with a "classic" soundtrack, which uses tracks from Streets of Rage (both the Mega Drive / Genesis and Master System / Game Gear versions) and Streets of Rage 2 composed by Yuzo Koshiro. This only applies for Story / Arcade / Stage Select modes.

In the Options Menu, the player can remap buttons, tweak the HUD, and even change the icons for the health-recovery food items.

Combat[]

Fighting Tips Basic in Streets of Rage 4
Fighting Tips Advanced in Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4 carries on the style of previous entries in the series. Players advance from left to right on each stage, defeating enemies as they go. Players can pick up healing items and disposable weapons. At the end of each stage the player must face the boss.

All the fundamentals from previous titles carry over to this game. Characters can execute combo attacks on the ground, as well Blitz Attacks, which are performed by pressing forward twice and the attack button. There are three different types of aerial attacks: neutral aerial (done by jumping in place), forward aerial and down aerial (notable for not knocking down enemies). The player can also grab opponents by moving into them directly, to pummel or throw them forward or back; most characters can also vault over opponents to perform more powerful throws.

Much like in older titles, jumping briefly grants invincibility frames at the startup, allowing the player to effectively dodge certain attacks if timed correctly. In addition, falling into holes or cliffs no longer kills the player; instead they deal a small portion of damage. When thrown or knocked down by enemies, players can "tech" as soon as they land on the ground, gaining brief invincibility and recovering faster; if a player techs after a throw, they negate all fall damage.

In order to prevent the classic infinite jab combo, where the player taps the jab button, pause briefly and repeat (essentially locking opponents on hitstun indefinitely), the developers added a limit where all enemies will fall down after taking up to 8 hits. The infinite can still be performed, but has a much smaller window of opportunity once enemies recover from hitstun (which resets the 8 hit counter).

Wall Bounces and Off the Ground Attacks[]

New to Streets of Rage 4 are wall bounces. Enemies no longer go off-screen when launched by attacks, instead bouncing off invisible walls, determined by the current "combat zone" until the player can advance further. Enemies are vulnerable to attacks while in the air until they touch the ground; because of that, combat encourages players to juggle opponents against each other and walls for extended combos. Wall bounces can only be executed up to three times per combo.

In addition, some attacks have "off the ground" properties, allowing them to hit enemies have been knocked down to the ground. These attacks can lift them up, allowing for more juggling. Off the ground attacks can only lift enemies once per combo. The opponent is put back on "neutral" state once they get up, "resetting" their wall bounce and off the ground counters.

Certain attacks can also inflict ground bounces, which causes enemies to "kick" on the ground, allowing for more juggles. Ground bounces have no limit and can be executed indefinitely. Examples of ground bouncing attacks include Blaze's Hishousouzan and Max's Charge Attack.

Combos and Score System[]

Combo points are calculated on consecutive hits that deal damage to the enemies. The longer the combo, the higher score the multiplier. Points are awarded based on damage dealt, rather than number of hits; this means that consecutively hitting defeated enemies won't award additional points; this was made so characters with high damaging moves would not be put at disadvantage for high scores versus characters with weak and fast attacks that can rack up high combo hits. The player is awarded 1 point per 1% damage, dealt; this includes toxic and environmental damage (i.e. explosive barrels and stage hazards in Survival).

The formula for the combo score is [(damage / 6) ^ 1.5 * 2]. For example, if the player increases the damage in the combo by 100%, the amount of points awarded is increased by 183%.

Hitting any breakable object during a combo will extend and increase hit counter, and picking up health/point items will only extend it. Taking any form of direct damage will break the combo and not award any points. After not hitting enemies for around four seconds the points will be awarded based on the combo counter, and the number of hits will reset. Speedrunners often make use of extending combo counters through pickup items and hitting breakables for the so called "full combo runs", where the player completes the entire stage without taking damage while not letting the combo counter reset.

There are different levels of combos based on damage dealt, which changes the color of the gauge:

Combo Damage Gauge Color Combo Name Points Awarded
60+ Yellow Nice! 62+
120+ Orange Great! 179+
200+ Green Super! 385+
350+ Blue Excellent!! 891+
520+ Purple Amazing!! 1614+
700+ Pink Sick!! 2520+
1000+ Red Out Of This World!!! 4303+

"Out Of This World" combos are critical for high scores and achieving S Rank in Story Mode / Arcade, especially at higher difficulties. The counter has not a linear increase but exponential: that means that one consecutive combo of 100 identical hits would generate a much higher score than, for instance, 4 split combos each of 25 hits.

Special Attacks and Star Moves[]

The Special Attack system from Streets of Rage 2 and Streets of Rage 3 returns, with improvements to encourage players to engage with it more promptly. After using a Special Attack, instead of just losing a portion of health, a green gauge will appear over the health bar, marking the amount of health lost used by the Special Attack. Each consecutive hit the player delivers against enemies will replenish some of that "green health" based on damage dealt, meaning the player can fully restore lost health used in a Special Attack by using normal attacks. However, should the player take a direct hit, the remaining green bar will disappear, and the health recovery effect will be lost; this creates a high risk versus high reward situation where players can spam Special Attacks as long they have health to spare. In addition, characters now have access to an Aerial Special Attack.

Another major addition are the Star Moves, which are limited-use super attacks which consume a Power Star, indicated below the player's health bar. The moves deal massive damage to multiple enemies at once, while also making the player completely invulnerable for its entire duration (except for a few, namely Shiva's Spirit Dance, Max's Iron Will, Estel's Tactical Support and Roo's Here Comes Bruce!). In addition, those moves ignore enemies' super armor, invincibility frames and also bypass their off the ground counter. Normally, players always start with one Star Move by default at the start of each stage, but more Power Stars can be found through the stage. Star Moves are inspired by the star power-ups from the first Streets of Rage that summoned the police to bombard opponents.

Co-op Attacks[]

In March 27, 2023, a patch added a new move exclusive to the multiplayer mode, called "Co-op Attack". By holding the item pickup button for 2 seconds, the player character to glow blue, and if approaching another player while holding it, the glowing player will grab their partner and toss them high in the air; the airborne player can press the attack button and unleash a special attack.

Mr. X Nightmare DLC[]

Mr X Nightmare DLC from Streets of Rage 4

Launching on July 15, 2021, the DLC pack titled Mr. X Nightmare adds in three new playable characters, one new secret character, while the previous characters received new moves, along with new weapon pickups, new enemies and exclusive brand-new tracks by Tee Lopes. This DLC also added two new gameplay modes: Training and Survival. This DLC came along with a free update patch which adds the Mania+ difficulty level, alternate color palettes per character (excluding retro ones), and balance changes.

Training Mode allows the player to practice against dummy opponents or to play various lessons to learn combos. Players have control over enemy placement and items. New enemies and items to be placed can be unlocked by defeating them on other modes, with many of them being exclusive to Survival Mode.

Survival Mode[]

Main article: Survival Mode

Survival Mode is set up as a simulated virtual reality training program developed by Dr. Zan, using data from Mr. X's brain. In this mode the player faces off against endless enemy waves of ever increasing difficulty. In between waves the player can pick up random power-ups and buffs to aid against the upcoming challenges. In addition to the normal enemies, "retro" enemies from the Genesis titles also appear. After each run the player will get experience points based on their score, which will unlock alternate moves.

Pickups[]

Main article: Pickups in Streets of Rage 4

Pickup items in Streets of Rage continue to follow the tradition of the series, being classified in two types: consumables and weapons. Consumables are divided between recovery items, points items and Power Stars (which grant a charge of Star Moves), while weapons are divided in swing weapons, thrust weapons and throw weapons.

Playable Characters[]

Playable Characters in Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4 features a roster of 21 playable characters, with 13 being retro characters from previous titles.

Returning[]

  • Axel Stone - A former member of the Wood Oak City Police Department. He left his simple life in isolation to fight the New Crime Syndicate after being called by Blaze.
  • Blaze Fielding - A former member of the Wood Oak City Police Department and currently a dance instructor. When she heard rumors about the New Crime Syndicate, she instantly contacted her old friends for help.
  • Adam Hunter (unlocked after Stage 4) - Currently an agent of the Special Forces. He was assigned to investigate and infiltrate the New Crime Syndicate.
  • Max Thunder (Mr. X Nightmare DLC) - Axel's old friend who helped rescue Adam over 10 years ago. His current whereabouts are unknown, until...
  • Shiva (Mr. X Nightmare DLC) - Mr. X's former right-arm who has since abandoned the life of crime to atone for his sins.

New[]

  • Cherry Hunter - Adam's daughter who joins the fight against the Y Syndicate. She fights using her guitar as a weapon.
  • Floyd Iraia - An assistant and apprentice to Dr. Zan, who received robotic prosthetics from him after losing both arms in a work accident.
  • Estel Aguirre (Mr. X Nightmare DLC) - A Special Forces agent who takes her job very seriously.

Classic[]

Also called "retro characters", these are sprite versions of characters from the previous titles. Their gameplay has been updated and adapted to the new combat systems, and they all have access to their own Star Moves.

Enemies[]

Similarly to the Genesis trilogy, each enemy and boss has variants, palette swaps with different names, health values and attributes. Some variants can also employ different attacks. Certain attacks have cooldowns depending on the enemy and variant.

In order to give a better indication of certain attacks, enemies now will have visual and sound cues. For grabs, enemies will enter a "charge" animation and briefly flash red, to notify the player they'll attempt a throw attack. Certain enemy attacks will also be imbued with super armor, where they briefly flash white, negating any form of stagger and making them briefly ungrabbable.

Boss enemies now have a dedicated healthbar which appears on display during the whole fight, at the bottom side of the screen. In addition, most bosses have "phases" once they hit specific health thresholds (usually at 50% health), where they'll change some attack patterns, agressivity and use new and/or empowered moves, most notably their own special attacks.

Retro enemies, which are sprite versions of previous opponents from the Genesis trilogy, can also be fought. Most of them are present in the Survival Mode.

  • Galsia (B.T., Galsiaaaaa, Jonathan, Joseph, Garam, Brash (Surger) (DLC)
  • Donovan (Altet, Gudden, Z)
  • Signal (Y. Signal, G. Signal, R. Signal, D. Signal)
  • Dylan (Kevin, Francis, Brandon)
  • Garnet (Ruby, Diamond, Pyrop, Saphyr)
  • Goro (Dokuja, Tatsu, Tora) (Tanchou) (Mobile)
  • Raven (Condor, Pheasant, Sparrow)
  • Assassin Agent (Silver, Gold, Iron, Bronze)
  • Feroccio (Dick, Barney, Lou, Barnaby)
  • Sugar (Honey, Caramel, Candy)
  • Victoria (Elizabeth, Margaret, Anne)
  • Koobo (Baabo, Fuubo, Zeebo)
  • Big Ben (Gourmand, Anry, Heart)
  • Murphy (Dunphy, Sand, Ralphy)
  • Shadow
  • Diva (Boss), (Beyo, Riha, Weetnee)
  • Commissioner (Boss), (Deputy, Lieutenant)
  • Nora (Boss), (Queen, Belle, Stiletto)
  • Estel (Boss)
  • Barbon (Boss), (Vulture, Wayne)
  • Max (Boss)
  • DJ K-Washi (Boss), (DJ K Zushi, DJ K Nashi)
  • Mr. Y (Boss), (Mr What, Mr Whatever)
  • Ms. Y (Boss), (Ms What, Ms Whatever)
  • Adam (DLC)
  • Break (DLC)
  • Blaze (DLC)
  • Cherry (DLC)
  • Floyd (DLC)

Retro Enemies[]

Stages and Bosses[]

Stage Name Boss Background music (BGM)
1 The Streets Diva They're Back
The Streets
Chill or Don't
Overflow
Go Straight*
Revenge Of Mr. X*
2 Police Precinct Commissioner Call The Cops
Funky HQ
The Commissioner
Never Return Alive*
Ready Funk*
3 Cargo Ship Nora The Storm Boat
Nora
Slow Moon*
The Last Soul*
4 Old Pier Estel Aguirre Ghost Fair
Down the Beatch
Estel: Round 1
Wave 131*
Back To The Industry*
5 Underground Barbon The Undergrounds
On Fire
Barbon
Little Money Avenue*
Under Logic*
Too Deep*
6 Chinatown Shiva Chow Time
Do Joe
Shiva
Keep The Groovin*
Beatnik On The Ship*
7 Skytrain Estel Aguirre and Commissioner(s) Aphex Train
Estel: Round 2
Fighting In The Street*
Back To The Industry*
8 Art Gallery Beyo and Riha An Exhibition
Double Divas
In the Bar*
Max Man*
Revenge Of Mr. X*
9 Y Tower Max Thunder Rising Up
Maximum
My Little Baby*
Jungle Base*
10 To The Concert DJ K-Washi 25 Years Ago
DJ K-wash
Alien Power*
Attack the Barbarian*
11 Airplane Mr. Y A-Ki-Ra
Lift The Ground
Mr. Y
Spin On The Bridge*
Back To The Industry*
12 Y Island Ms. Y, Mr. Y and Y Mecha Throne Ti Un Fou
Ms. Y and Mr. Y
Next of a Kin Showdown
Expander*
Big Boss*
Max Man*

*Retro Soundtrack option.

Retro Levels and Bosses[]

During specific stages, players can be transported to hidden levels by hitting breakable arcade machines with a taser gun (for both versions of Shiva, as well Roo, using the Defensive Special Attack on the machine will count, since they can't hold items). These levels consist only of a small arena and short fights against bosses from Streets of Rage 2. If won, players will be awarded with a Power Star.

If players die during retro levels, it won't trigger a game over; instead they'll be sent back to the normal level. Regardless of winning or losing, players are return at full health.

On Mania+, the player will fight two of the same bosses on all stages, except for Shiva and Mr. X at the fourth level.

  • The first level is found on the Stage 2, leading to a fight against Jack.
  • The second level is found on the Stage 4, leading to a fight against Zamza.
  • The third level is found on the Stage 5, leading to a fight against Abadede.
  • The fourth level is found on the Stage 8, leading to a fight against Shiva and Mr. X.
    • Much like in the original game, Mr. X will be accompained by ever spawning Galsias and Donovans.
    • On Mania+, Shiva will be fought alone, but when engaging Mr. X, he'll be joined by two Robot X.

In addition to Retro Levels, the player can also find, exclusively on Mania+, red arcade cabinets (also known as "cursed arcades") in certain stages, and breaking them will summon a retro boss to fight the player. The player is not required to use a taser. The cabinet will disappear if the player defeats all enemies on the area before destroying it.

Achievements and Trophies[]

There are 37 available achievements, with an additional trophy available on PlayStation 4. The Mr. X Nightmare DLC adds 8 more achievements.

Icon Name Description Trophy
100 Yen 100 Yen Clear the Arcade mode on Hard difficulty or higher. Gold
All Clear Adam All Clear: Adam Clear all stages in single-player mode as Adam. Silver
All Clear Axel All Clear: Axel Clear all stages in single-player mode as Axel. Silver
All Clear Blaze All Clear: Blaze Clear all stages in single-player mode as Blaze. Silver
All Clear Cherry All Clear: Cherry Clear all stages in single-player mode as Cherry. Silver
All Clear Floyd All Clear: Floyd Clear all stages in single-player mode as Floyd. Silver
All Clear SOR1 All Clear: Streets of Rage 1991 Clear all stages in single-player mode with a "Streets of Rage 1991" character. Silver
All Clear SOR2 All Clear: Streets of Rage 2 Clear all stages in single-player mode with a "Streets of Rage 2" character. Silver
All Clear SOR3 All Clear: Streets of Rage 3 Clear all stages in single-player mode with a "Streets of Rage 3" character. Silver
All Too Easy All Too Easy Complete a stage on Mania difficulty. Silver
An Elegant Death An Elegant Death Use a chandelier to kill an enemy. Bronze
Birth of the Cool Birth of the Cool Catch a weapon in the air. Bronze
Bleeding Knuckles Bleeding Knuckles Reach a lifetime score of 5,000,000. Gold
Broke My Toy Broke My Toy Break a spear. Bronze
Collateral Damage Collateral Damage Use a barrel or a grenade explosion to kill 3 enemies at the same time. Bronze
Combo Expert Combo Expert Achieve an "Amazing!!" combo. Bronze
Combo Master Combo Master Achieve an "Out of this world!!!" combo. Silver
Combo Pro Combo Pro Achieve a "Super!" combo. Bronze
Demolition Man Demolition Man Use a wrecking ball to kill an enemy. Bronze
Dojo Master Dojo Master Beat Shiva. Bronze
Dude, My Car! Dude, My Car! Break the car in The Streets. Bronze
Eating off the Ground Eating off the Ground Consume a healing item. Bronze
Family Reunion Family Reunion Get the Golden Chicken from the art gallery to the stock room. Silver
It's Chilly in Here It's Chilly in Here Break both elevator window panes in the Y Tower. Bronze
Life's a Struggle Life's a Struggle Free yourself from a grab. Bronze
Maniac Maniac Get an S-Rank on all stages on Hard difficulty or higher. Gold
Miss Me Miss Me? Meet Adam. Bronze
My Work Here is Done My Work Here is Done Obtain all trophies. Platinum
Old-Schooled Old-Schooled Beat Ms. Y and Mr. Y. Silver
Oops Oops Hit an ally. Bronze
Perfect Perfect Complete a stage without taking damage. Silver
Snap Out of It Snap Out of It Beat possessed Max. Silver
Somebody Call the Cops! Somebody Call the Cops! Call the police with a Streets of Rage 1991 character. Bronze
Stage Mastery Stage Mastery Get an S-Rank on any stage. Silver
THIS IS WOOD OAK CITY!!! THIS IS WOOD OAK CITY!!! Kill an enemy by tossing them in a hole. Bronze
Throwback Throwback Discover a retro level. Bronze
Walk on Foot Walk on Foot Destroy all motorcycles. Bronze
Wasted Wine Wasted Wine Break a wine bottle. Bronze
(IMAGE NOT FOUND) All Clear: Estel Clear all stages in single-player mode as Estel. Silver
(IMAGE NOT FOUND) All Clear: Shiva Clear all stages in single-player mode as Shiva. Silver
(IMAGE NOT FOUND) All Clear: Max Clear all stages in single-player mode as Max. Silver
(IMAGE NOT FOUND) Clown Wars Lead an army of 3 clowns. Bronze
(IMAGE NOT FOUND) Ultimate Warrior Unlock all alternate moves for one character. Bronze
(IMAGE NOT FOUND) The Possibilities Are Endless Unlock all alternate moves. Silver
(IMAGE NOT FOUND) Phantom in the Hull Reach level 18 in survival mode. Bronze
(IMAGE NOT FOUND) I Am the One Reach level 30 in survival mode. Silver

Development[]

"Streets of Rage 4 is a collaboration between passionate people who played the series when they were very young and always dreamed working on it." - Jordi Asensio, lead game designer.

Rumors of a fourth entry in the series being in development have circulated since the mid-1990s. Various pitchs to Sega were made, with various attempts being cancelled in the concept board, while others had rough alpha versions that never saw the light of the day (although one of those projects was repurposed into Fighting Force).

Following the success of Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap, a 2017 remake of 1989's Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap, publisher Dotemu and developer Lizardcube approached Sega of Japan about creating a sequel in the Streets of Rage series. Sega agreed and production on the game began in the beginning of 2018, with the game publicly announced on August 27, 2018. The game was co-developed by Guard Crush Games, using a modified engine from their Streets of Fury game (which became known as Guard Crush Engine), that allowed the game to be modified in real time, and to refine the way inputs, buttons and combos are managed.

Streets of Rage 4 was released for PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Windows, Linux and Mac OS. It was also released for the now defunct Stadia in July 15, 2021, and later for Android and iOS in May 24, 2022.

Gameplay[]

Jordi Asensio, a co-founder of Dotemu, and one of the lead game designers from Guard Crush Games, stated that the combat of this entry was heavily inspired by fighting games, to the point where the team would study frame by frame of animations from titles such as Fatal Fury and Street Fighter, to understand which tools they needed exactly and how to improve the formula. When he was younger, Jordi entered various Street Fighter tournaments, back in the early days of e-sports. He soon shifted to playing beat 'em ups, as the style of action "clicked" due to his experience on fighting games, and was drawn by the appeal of cooperative play, being able to connect with his friends. He was particularly fond of Guardian Heroes, for the Sega Saturn. These combined gaming experiences helped the team shape Streets of Rage 4.[1]

The team worked hard to solidify the foundations of the combat, in order for it to feel good and responsive while pushing gameplay to the limits of the engine. Each attack, even the most basic punches, needed to be precise, carry impact and have weight in its animation. During the development, the designers would often perform playtests with both Streets of Rage 2 and Streets of Rage 4 being played simultaneously with a single controller, to ensure the rhythm and feeling of the sequel would remain faithful to the rest of the series.

An important part of Streets of Rage 4's development was to keep it grounded and not get "overexcited" during development. The team avoided following trends, such as adding RPG elements and overmodernize the game. Their main design philosophy was to understand if the aspects of the older titles were result of technical limitations or deliberate design choices. Streets of Rage 4 mostly draws references from the team's favorite title, Streets of Rage 2, not only regarding gameplay, but also how many stages and sections are direct tributes to the second title.

According to Jordi, Joe Musashi from the Shinobi series was proposed as a playable character, along with other Sega characters outside of the Streets of Rage series, but the idea was turned down by Sega of Japan. A reference to the character can be seen during Stage 5, where a graffiti of Joe Musashi is drawn at one of the large pipes of the sewer section.

Art Direction[]

Ben Fiquet, art director from Lizardcube and also responsible for writing the story of Streets of Rage 4, stated that capturing the "dirty" urban feeling, which was ingrained in the art of the original series, was the most important thing to achieve when developing the art style for the title. He described the bricks and neon signs being particularly iconic and part of the first impression rooted in the player's memories. Very early in development, the team had already settled on the idea of showing the aged playable characters, to reflect how the fans of the series, who were waiting decades for a sequel, also got older and grown up.[2]

The art direction was heavily inspired by the original series, as well other games from the early 90's, known for having black outlines in their pixel art. The hand-drawn graphics tried to emulate these techniques and also ensure the character silhouettes felt recognizable, while still depicting more mature characters. Fiquet expressed that opting for hand-drawn as opposed to pixel art wasn't a way to oppose it, but take it in another direction, but still respecting the style, colors and characters, while adding more details to their designs, something that wouldn't be possible with pixel art. Fique stated that the team strived for a balance between something that felt familiar and pleased veteran players, while also creating something fresh new.

For the art team, it was very important to get the feeling of the first level right, since it is often the level where players spend the most time. Because of that, the first level of Streets of Rage 4 was heavily inspired by the first level in Streets of Rage 2 (and heavily implied to be the exact same place), as a way to pay homage to it. The car crash that halfway through the stage was originally meant to happen in Streets of Rage 2, but was cut due to technical limitations, and it was added to the fourth title as a reference.

Another important aspect of Streets of Rage 4 was to make sure backgrounds would never be repeated through a level, and every single level would have different scenery through its length, with lots of details, in order to increase immersion and help tell the story, evolving the narrative and give players a true sense of progress.

The team strived to make the visual quality match that of an animated film. To achieve that, the programmers developed many lightning effects that could be projected over the character hand-drawn graphics, including the retro character sprites. The technology allowed the team to create the proper atmosphere to each stage, using dynamic lightning and even rim lights over the character silhouette.

Music[]

The soundtrack is primarily composed by Olivier Derivière, with participation of original series composers Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima, along with Yoko Shimomura, Harumi Fujita, Keiji Yamagishi, Scattle, Das Mörtal, XL Middleton and Groundislava. Koshiro was not a part of the project at first, but joined after playing a demo of the game at BitSummit, an indie game showcase in Kyoto, in June 2019. He cited fan requests and how the game was coming along as reasons for joining. Initially, Hideki Naganuma was supposed to be taking place of Fujita, but in March 2020 Dotemu announced that he would no longer be composing for the game due to scheduling complications.

Olivier's philosophy in composing the game's soundtrack was to be both innovative, while living up to the legacy of the series; he didn't want to simply mimic Yuzo Koshiro's unique style, stating "it would feel wrong to everybody, myself included". Koshiro's direct involvement with Streets of Rage 4 allowed him to "inject his flavor" into the project, while Olivier would modernize his take. Ultimately, Olivier's main concern was find a balance to structure the soundtrack between his music and the guest artists'. Ultimately, the team decided that Olivier would compose the music for the levels while the guests would compose the boss themes. Giving each guest freedom for composing boss themes would allow their style and personality to flourish to the maximum.[3]

Yuzo Koshiro was initially hesitant regarding the approach he should take with the music of the fourth title, as he wasn't dealing with a FM sound chip anymore, and the fact that modern games didn't usually use chiptune music. However, the new take from Olivier for the series gave him a lot of expectations. Koshiro ultimately decided to use his old synths and drum machines rather than computer programs to create the new tracks for Streets of Rage 4. While working on the new title, he listened to his old influences, songs from late '80s and early '90s, on Spotify and YouTube, in order to bring back the same feeling that drove him back when composing for the original Streets of Rage.

Creating a dynamic soundtrack that would change seamlessly depending on the player's progress through the level was key to improve the game's atmosphere, to reach the perfect balance and fusion of gameplay and music. Streets of Rage 4's executive producer and Dotemu's CEO, Cyrille Imbert, stated that their intention was to make the game's soundtrack feel like an "interactive music album". To achieve that, Olivier was in constant, direct contact with the sound designers, in order to understand what each specific area of a level should feel like, based on atmosphere, progression and even difficulty. This allowed the music to feel consistent with the player experience and the game's story, progressively becoming more intense to reflect the sense of urge and adrenaline from the plot.

The game's soundtrack was released digitally by Mutant Ninja Records and physically by Brave Wave Productions alongside the game on April 30, 2020, with a limited vinyl release produced by Limited Run Games. A CD soundtrack is included with certain physical releases of the game. Tee Lopes composed the soundtrack for the Survival Mode from the Mr. X Nightmare DLC.[4]

Reception[]

Streets of Rage 4 received "generally favorable" reviews on Metacritic getting a metascore of 84/100 on PC[5] and 82/100 on PS4[6] & Xbox One.[7]

The game reached number 14 in the UK sales charts.[8] It also reached 20th on the US downloads chart.[9][10] As of September 2020, the game has sold over 1.5 million digital copies worldwide.[11][12]

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Trivia[]

  • This game follows Bare Knuckle III's storyline instead of the censored Streets of Rage 3 version.
    • The Rakushin element is mentioned on both Floyd and Zan's profiles, together with the city being referenced as Wood Oak.
  • This is the first game in the series not developed nor published by Sega.
  • This is the first game, since the original, to not feature new robotic enemies.
    • Koobo and his variants don't count as they're cyborgs.
    • The Y Mecha doesn't count as it is a vehicle piloted by the Y Twins.
    • Robot X can be fought in Survival Mode as a retro enemy.
  • This and Streets of Rage 2 are the only games where Big Ben (and any other heavyweight enemies) are throwable (though, they have a slower throw/slam animation and bounce lower on the ground).
  • A motorcycle segment inspired by Streets of Rage 3 was supposed to be implemented after defeating Barbon in Stage 5, but it was scrapped due to time constraints and amount of work to get it done right.
  • This game uses the original names for both Galsia and Garnet, whom are called "Garcia" and "Soozie" in the US/EU version of Streets of Rage 3.
  • Galsia, Donovan, Signal, Dylan, Murphy, Garnet and Goro had an unused final palette swap (two in Goro's case) as seen in their respective galleries in the Extras Menu. As these are unused, they have no names.
    • Most of these variants later appeared in the Survival Mode, some also being featured in the Mania+ difficulty.
  • Since the playable DLC characters are also bosses in the game, if one of them is selected during Story Mode / Arcade / Stage Select, they will only face their hologram counterparts at the respective stages: Estel at Stages 4 and 7, Shiva at Stage 6 and Max at Stage 9. The same applies for fighting them on Boss Rush Mode.
    • In the Survival Mode, any boss that is also a playable character will appear as an hologram, regardless of them being selected by the player or not.
  • The achievement "THIS IS WOOD OAK CITY!!!" is a reference to the iconic scene in the 2007 film 300, where King Leonidas (played by Gerard Butler) kicks a Persian messenger into a well while yelling "This is Sparta!". The scene later became an internet meme and has been spoofed in many media.
  • Shiva, in his Streets of Rage 2 incarnation, was originally supposed to be in the game. While this version of Shiva is encountered as a hidden retro boss fight in Stage 8, only the third and fourth installment versions are selectable.
    • In a short video posted by Dotemu's official Twitter, this version of Shiva can be seen as a playable character.
  • Concept art shows two potential playable characters that were ultimately scrapped.
    • A red-haired girl with rollerblades, a possible hint of a spiritual successor to Skate.
    • An asian man striking a kung-fu stance. Other concept show him in a superhero costume.
      • The superhero costume bears strikingly resemblance to the Great Saiyaman uniform used by Gohan and Videl in the Dragon Ball series.
  • Early mockup iterations proposed player characters having a "Rage Gauge" akin to fighting games Super Gauges. In addition, it would keep the time system with a count starting at 99.
    • One of the early mockup iterations erroneously had Galsia called as "Donovan".
  • When playing the game with the classic soundtrack, certain tracks include:
    • The title screen is replaced by the Intro / Stage 8 song from Streets of Rage 2.
    • The character select screen is the classic theme from the trilogy.
    • The results screen song that plays between stages in Story / Arcade mode is "Walking Bottom", a beta version of Streets of Rage 2's Stage 1.

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