Update: Looking for the game, now that Sega have backed out on their agreement to let the project live? Take a look here.
It’s been a long time coming. After a massive 8 years in development, one of the oldest, longest fan-projects in gaming history launched last night, quietly and with little fanfare. Bombergames’ Streets of Rage Remake. Technically, this is labelled as version 5, but considering that the previous build released was a fairly rough beta iteration in 2007, this may as well be considered V1.0 – the big one. The final release. Right now, just the Windows build is live, but Linux, Wii (homebrew) and even GP2X versions are coming soon.
The title doesn’t quite sum up the game. This isn’t a straight remake of the classic Sega Genesis/Megadrive brawler series but rather a project to combine all the content of SoR 1-3, add in some elements from the lesser-known Gamegear version, remaster it all up to equal spec, add a whole pile of new levels, and then string it together as an enormous Guardian Heroes-esque branching campaign. A single playthrough should take about two hours on average (ideal ‘sit down with a friend and some snacks’ length), but there’s a massive number of branches to pick from along the way, meaning you can play the game 2-3 times over and never see the same level twice.
In short, it’s a great big bundle of face-punching fun on gaudy 90s streets filled with colourful and improbably dressed gang members and the occasional boxing kangaroo. The gameplay is rock solid, just like it was back in the day, but the amount of content available here is astounding. In addition to 1 & 2 player-modes (local only, sadly – online play was planned, but was too buggy to make the final cut), there’s even the option to bring a friendly bot along with you in place of a buddy, and a complex unlock system that lets you pool your points into buying access to new special characters, cheats and other features. There’s even an included level editor that lets you build your own custom SoRR campaigns from scratch and share with your friends.
It doesn’t end there, though. There’s a whole range of bonus playmodes available, from a straight 1v1 fighting arena mode, to a classic boss-rush, and even a beach volleyball mode where characters can take a break from punching each other and relax. And on top of all of this, the game allows a vast amount of configuration even in regular gameplay, letting you use the rulesets from SoR2 or 3 as you prefer, and letting you choose between a range of graphical options ranging from 90s purity to a few more modern visual effects. The emphasis seems to be on letting you adjust the fine details until it matches your personal mental image of the game, for maximum nostalgia. Personally, I just cranked everything to full/newest/remake/etc – I like my shiny things.
And to top this all off, an amazing soundtrack remixed by a huge number of popular remixers. The entire warbly Genesis/Megadrive soundtrack has been updated to sound just like the early 90s electronica it was clearly inspired by. While there’s some variation in quality here, there’s some seriously catchy beats to accompany the action. Familiar samples mixed in with familiar melodies. If you lived through the 90s and heard any of the techno and rave stuff on the way up, this’ll hit you like a big meaty fist made of nostalgia.
I could write more, but I’d much rather go back to fighting street crime one suplex at a time. Download the game right away, grab a friend if you can, and go punch some fiery street justice into some gaudy punks. I tip my imaginary hat to Team Bomber for keeping at this project for the greater part of a decade. It was worth the effort. This is a gem, and as playable (if not moreso) than it ever was back in the 90s. Share the word. Tell your friends. Let these guys know that their years of work weren’t wasted.
Go punch some faces.