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How History Defines The Nintendo Switch

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There’s a paradigm that exists in the history of Nintendo. Isaac Newton and the apple tree had a taste of what was to come, and certainly, the phrase ‘what goes up, must come down’ became the path Nintendo gladly rode up until the unveiling of their latest console, the Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo has an unconscious habit of following the success of one console with a sleepwalk across a sink hole. Needless to say, Nintendo’s journey through the Hranice Abyss often leaves it with surprising ingenuity when it rises back to the surface. The yo-yo business style has often kept fans on the edge of their seats, and Nintendo hasn’t softened the chair with their painful unveiling of the Nintendo Switch. History, however, could prove to be Nintendo’s savior.

After the flourish of the 80s, ending with the release of the Game Boy which still remains their second highest selling console of all time, the 90s began with the respectable release of the SNES. While it sold 49.1 million units, it also started to lose its stranglehold on the market. The rise of Sega proved to be a worthy competitor and certainly offered a unique experience. Whilst Nintendo reaffirmed its position as family friendly, Sega released the Mega Drive which had a little more blood and guts with games such as Mortal Kombat.

Virtual Boy was an utter disaster.

With the new competition, Nintendo did what it does today, it innovated. However, just like today, sometimes these innovations went horribly wrong, and none more so than its attempt at virtual reality gaming, with the haply named Virtual Boy. It shifted under 800,000 units and was nothing short of a disaster. Its many failures included a high price, a monochrome display, a terrible 3D effect, and major health concerns. Physiological symptoms were common, including; dizziness, nausea, motion sickness and headaches. This pioneering tragedy hasn’t stopped Nintendo’s dream of a virtual reality console, with Miyamoto in 2014 stating they were working on a new virtual reality console based on the 3DS technology. Maybe the Nintendo 3DS will have a new virtual reality successor; let’s hope not.

A year later, Nintendo found some of its energy again and released the Nintendo 64. It sold 32.9 million units but faced new competition in Sony which released the PlayStation two years earlier. The PlayStation would thrive and sold over 100 million units, and would go onto to be the major success it is today. Ultimately Sony would be to Nintendo, what the Achaeans were to Troy, and lure much of the life that Nintendo breathed into Sony. However, the Nintendo 64 was still a huge hit, even with the hotly debated cartridges. The image of Nintendo only appealing to a young audience had certainly continued, and it would ultimately be the downfall of its next release, the Gamecube.

Selling only 22 million units to PlayStation 2’s 155 million, the Gamecube is considered a flop. Strangely, all things considered, the Gamecube was a fun console, offering new Nintendo classics such as Luigi’s Mansion and Pikmin. It missed the market, though, and by an unforgivable margin. The PlayStation 2 had become the first home entertainment system, it offered more than just gaming with the addition of playing movies. The Gamecube, with its mini-discs, missed the trend completely, and its odyssey to return would never materialize.

Fortunately, the Dark Ages would eventually end, and a new Enlightenment would uncover a new strategy. In 2004, Nintendo released their best selling console of all time, the Nintendo DS. It would sell 155 million units, and a large part of that was contributed to its appeal to untraditional gamers. At the time, smartphones weren’t around and there was only the Nintendo DS to play on the go. Suddenly, Nintendo found a place it could be called number one again, and it certainly started to become a little braver in its innovative spirit. In 2011 it was upgraded with 3D technology, becoming the Nintendo 3DS, selling a further 61 million units.

The Nintendo DS remains Nintendo’s best selling console.

In between the DS and the 3DS was another success story. the Wii. Recognizing it couldn’t compete with Sony, and now Microsoft, Nintendo developed a new idea for a home console entirely. Over 100 million units sold and suddenly Nintendo had found a new niche. The Wii used motion controls to follow the movement of the user which put the player in the heart of the game. This new approach to gaming opened up the industry to people that would have never considered gaming in their life. This was the first time in history it became safe to say ‘everybody is a gamer’. There wasn’t a person out there that didn’t have a system for their needs, and the industry has remained very saturated ever since.

But just as quickly as Nintendo rose, it fell. The release of the Wii U was a complete disaster, and the less said about it the better. Whilst by no means a bad console, it offered very little in the way of innovation and certainly lacked the vicissitude of the Wii. The Wii U, however, will help to define the success of the Nintendo Switch, and its failure could be a blessing in disguise.

Much like the waistline of someone on a fad diet, the accomplishments of Nintendo go up and down with each new console. The Nintendo 64 was up, the Gamecube was down. The Wii went up, the Wii U went down. So in theory, the Nintendo Switch should go up. This is a pattern that started in the early 90s and has continued until present day.

There are reasons why this pattern might end with the Nintendo Switch, however. With each ascension came a new wave of new users. Where Sony and Microsoft had taken fans, Nintendo had found new ones. The questions to ask is whether the Nintendo Switch is appealing to new users, and can it retain its core fan base? The latter is an obvious answer, with titles such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey easily going to have already persuaded them to preorder. Would anybody else have preordered, though?

Nintendo Switch

Will history repeat itself?

In many ways, the Nintendo Switch is a console for the Nintendo fanatics, and maybe that’s its purpose. It’s certainly been designed that way, a hybridization of many unique strengths from each of the previous Nintendo consoles. It even initially seemed it was trying to appeal to an adult population that had grown up with Nintendo, that would now want to play Nintendo on the go. The recent presentation seemed to distance itself from that marketing strategy. They appear to want to style the Nintendo Switch as a home console that can become a handheld console, rather than a handheld console that can become a home console. This is a Carthaginian mistake. Styling it as such puts it into much greater competition with the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, both of which offer more as a home console.

For history to repeat itself, Nintendo needs to muster all its strength and creativity, and focus much more on the handheld side of the Nintendo Switch. Its two biggest selling consoles of all time have both been handheld, and it’s no coincidence that Nintendo dominates that market. Any attempts to rejoin the home console market would be futile, it’s so heavily saturated that only perfection would do. It is therefore in Nintendo’s interest to follow the success of its handheld consoles, and allow history to repeat itself again.

Lost his ticket on the 'Number 9' Luxury Express Train to the Ninth Underworld. Has been left to write articles and reviews about games to write off his debt until the 'powers that be' feel it is sufficiently paid.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. John Cal McCormick

    January 24, 2017 at 9:33 am

    Nintendo’s hardware sales, almost uniformly, trend downward generation on generation. Every one of their home consoles has sold less units than the one before it with the sole exception of the Wii. It’s not like the Wii U was a surprise. The Wii was the surprise. That was the anomaly. Everything else sits on the line of best fit. Handheld wise, it’s a little all over the shop, and it depends on what you count as a new console given how many iterations of their various systems there are, but it pretty much goes up from Game Boy to DS, down to 3DS significantly.

    You can’t really equate the quality of the system to the sales it musters up. That would be no more valid a statement than standing by the artistic merits of the Spice Girls because they sold records in the millions. It’s two separate arguments – the objective commercial successes of a console, and the subjective entertainment value attached to it.

    The GameCube, for example, I thought was a great system, with a lovely controller, and it had some top quality games for it. That’s what I think. But the market spoke, and it was a commercial failure.

    Personally, I’d argue that every Nintendo console with the possible exception of the Wii U has had more than enough in terms of quality content to justify a purchase – dependant on how much disposable income you have. Objectively, each console sold less than the last because Nintendo are struggling to make products that appeal to a mass audience.

    When it comes to the Switch, the smart money, based on the evidence we have, is that it doesn’t sell big. Something always bucks the trend, though.

    • James Baker

      January 24, 2017 at 10:08 am

      I agree with most of this. I’d argue the DS and the 3DS were the same system, just with the addition of a 3D gimmick that no one uses.

      My concern for the Switch is its replacing the Wii U, rather than the 3DS. The Switch being marketed as a home console concerns me because it doesn’t stand a chance competing with the PS4 and Xbox One on their turf. I get the joy-con is a clever trick, but the Switch as a handheld is where the market is. Mobile gaming is just an occasional fad (Pokémon Go for instance) whilst Nintendo has a solid core of fans to work with.

      I was full of hype on the first trailer, with 20 to 30 year olds playing on it in various ways. It’s well known that adults play Pokémon and children play Call of Duty these days. The idea of the Switch being adaptable to the busy life styles of today made it a fantastic concept. Their focus seems to have disengaged from that focus in the recent presentation, and only a few of their releases this year seem to focus on that demographic – Zelda and Mario for example.

      Nintendo isn’t going to outsell Sony and Microsoft anymore, so a more acute focus on their demographic would be a good economic model.

      • John Cal McCormick

        January 24, 2017 at 10:51 am

        I don’t think you can really combine the DS and 3DS under one banner, since the 3DS has noticeably different innards to the DS, and features games exclusive to the system that can’t be played on a DS. The 3D thing was a gimmick that nobody cared about, sure, but even if you ignore that the inner workings of the system are a different beast.

        How you perceive the DS and 3DS in regard to each other also has consequences as to your next point.

        If you consider the 3DS to be a separate console to the DS, then it’s fair to say that you can also make the argument that handheld gaming, generally, is on the wane. The 3DS has struggled, and will never catch up to the stellar sales of the DS. The PlayStation Vita has struggled, and will never catch up to the stellar sales of the PSP.

        What happened between those two generations of consoles? Mobile phone gaming took off. It could all be a big coincidence, but I suspect it isn’t. People don’t like carrying things around that we don’t need. That’s why iPods don’t exist in 2017. Our phones hook up to Spotify. We don’t need this extraneous device that just plays music.

        Similarly, we don’t really need dedicated handheld gaming devices. Sure, some people do. I buy them. Many gamers do. But to a lot of people – even people who ten years ago would have bought a DS for their daily commutes – the purchase of a dedicated handheld console seems unnecessary today thanks to the rise of smart phones.

        Conversely, home console gaming has never been more popular. Both the PS4 and Xbox One are two of the fastest selling consoles of all time. They’re killing it. It’s just Nintendo that can’t sell home consoles.

        So what does that tell us? That tells us that the market is ready, but that fundamentally, there’s something about Nintendo’s products that doesn’t appeal to it. It’s THAT that needs to change. And I don’t think it has, enough, with the Switch.

        In regards to how they’re marketing it, it’s a tough call. I get why you’d call it a handheld and a replacement for the 3DS – it’s better to the most powerful handheld than to be the least powerful, most expensive home console. But then I also get why they want to go the home console route – perhaps their data shows them too that handheld gaming is on a downward trend while home console gaming is up, and the Wii U is dead while the 3DS continues to sell so it makes more sense to axe the former.

        It’s hard to know which direction to go in with it.

        As I’ve been saying for years, Nintendo needs to get out of this weird middle ground they’re in if they want commercial success. They either need to be a cheap Nintendo machine, or a premium, everything machine. Currently, they’re the worst of both of those options. That’s why they’re not selling. And that’s what needs to change.

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PAX South 2020 Hands-On: ‘Ghostrunner,’ ‘Everspace 2,’ and ‘Wrath: Aeon of Ruin’

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‘Ghostrunner,’ ‘Everspace 2,’ and ‘Wrath: Aeon of Ruin’

We’ve already covered a wide variety of the games on display at PAX South this year, from retro revivals to unorthodox romances to everything in between – and we’re not done yet! In this next roundup article, we cover three more ambitious, action-packed games: Ghostrunner, Everspace 2, and Wrath: Aeon of Ruin.

Ghostrunner

Ghostrunner

Ghostrunner was one of the most in-demand games at PAX, and after playing it, it’s easy to see why. This first-person action slasher, developed by One More Level and produced by 3D Realms, lets players dash through the air, run across walls, and slash through enemies at blistering speed all while exploring a dystopian cyberpunk world. It’s gorgeous, lightning fast, and feels amazing to play.

Ghostrunner begins in a broken future, where the remnants of humanity have hidden away in a single condensed tower. Naturally enough, you’re put in the role of the one rebel who dares to rise up against the forces oppressing humanity. As you begin your uprising, you’ll also encounter a grand mystery – why is humanity the way it is now? Just what happened to the rest of the world? And what’s that voice you hear in your head?

Ghostrunner

My demo didn’t offer much illumination to these mysteries, but the 3D Realms team assured me that the story plays a significant role in the main campaign. What my demo did offer, however, was a look into the fast-paced, brutal gameplay that defines the game. Combat is so dynamic in Ghostrunner. Your arsenal of moves is massive and varied – of course you can run, jump, and slash with your katana, but you can also run along walls, dash over chasms, slow down time to dodge bullets, and more.

When all the moving pieces flow together, Ghostrunner achieves a visceral, almost hypnotic flow of battle. There are a few obstacles to this feeling. The controls took a bit of getting used to on my end, but that would be because, console peasant that I am, I’m not used to playing 3D games on a keyboard instead of a controller. Also, this may be an action game, but at many times it feels more like a puzzle game. With bloodthirsty enemies scattered around each environment, you’ll often need to take a step back and methodically evaluate which abilities to use in each situation. This can take some trial and error – it might have taken me more than a few tries to clear out the final wave of enemies. But when the solution works out, it’s a beautifully exhilarating feeling, and that’s what sets Ghostrunner apart.

Wrath: Aeon of Ruin

PAX featured plenty of retro-styled games, but not many quite like Wrath: Aeon of Ruin. This retro-style FPS is a throwback to the simpler, faster days of shooters, built entirely in the same engine as the original Quake. It was even based off the work of Quake community modders. If you’ve played any classic FPS like the original DOOM or Wolfenstein, then you should have a good idea of how Wrath plays: it’s brutal, lightning fast, and action packed.

My demo got straight to the point. After teleporting me to a distant hellscape, I was faced with a horde of demons, ranging from simple skeletons to more aggressive ogre-like enemies and flying laser monsters. Thankfully, I was also given an assortment of weapons to take these creatures down with, including a simple handgun, a powerful blade arm, and my personal favorite, a shotgun. Each one of these felt good to control, and like any good old-fashioned shooter, they gave me a great feeling of power.

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Like any good, brutal FPS in the vein of Quake, Wrath features an insane amount of mobility. Movement is extremely fast and fluid, allowing you to zip across and above stages with reckless abandon. This extra speed will be necessary, especially considering that enemies can slaughter on with reckless, overwhelming abandon.

Of course, being built in the original Quake engine, Wrath is a delightfully retro treat to behold. It features all the signature hard polygonal edges of PC shooters from that bygone era, but with the added smoothness and fluidity of modern hardware. The game feels great to play and is a unique treat to behold. Wrath is currently available on Steam Early Access, and there’s plenty of new content that can be expected throughout the year, including new levels, enemies, and even a full online multiplayer mode. Stuffed with violent retro action, Wrath: Aeon of Ruin is absolutely worth watching out for.

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Everspace 2

Space is the final frontier, offering limitless exploration This’s the exact feeling that Everspace 2 captures. This sandbox open world space shooter dumps you in outer space and leaves you to figure out the rest, allowing you to fight, scavenge, and explore as you will, all with an incredible amount of freedom.

It’s a remarkably beautiful game too, boasting of extremely detailed 3D graphics that wouldn’t look out of place in a full 3D AAA experience. It’s extremely ambitious, offering a wealth of customization options through parts that can be scavenged from fallen space craft or space debris. There’s alien life to discover and a wealth of locations to explore, with the full game apparently featuring more than 80 unique environments.

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These environments will always be interesting to explore thanks to a mix between handcrafted worlds and randomization. The original Everspace was a pure roguelike, and as developer Rockfish Games told me, this constantly changing design has often been fundamental to previous great space shooters. Although Rockfish opted for an intentionally designed open world for the sequel, they want to maintain some of those same roguelike elements. That’s why whenever you venture through the many galaxies of Everspace 2, the galaxies and planets will be the same, but the items you find or enemies you encounter within them may change each time.

It took me some time to get used to Everspace. It immediately offers a great amount of freedom, with the demo simply dumping me in space and only requiring that I take down some enemy units and pick up some loot. Yet once I got the hang of the controls and the environment, it became extremely fluid and natural to zip through space, upgrade different components, and experience all the free-flowing action that it has to offer. Space is the ultimate freedom, and Everspace 2 is set to represent that.

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PAX South 2020 Hands-On: ‘Windjammers 2,’ ‘KUNAI,’ and ‘Young Souls’

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PAX South

PAX South 2020 attracted tons of exciting publishers to San Antonio, and even with such a crowded lineup, the DotEmu and Arcade Crew booth easily stood out as some of the show’s very best exhibitors. Streets of Rage 4 might have been their standout demo, but the French boutique publisher and developers brought a fantastic selection of games to the show, including their signature retro revivals and some promising original indie games of their own.

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Windjammers 2

Sequel to the much-beloved arcade classic, Windjammers 2 takes all the hectic frisbee-throwing action of the original and updates it for the modern generation. For those unfamiliar with the art of windjamming, it’s effectively pong, but instead of balls, you toss discs back and forth across the court. It pits two players against each other on opposite sides of the court, tasking you with mercilessly hurling your disc back and forth until it gets into your opponent’s goal.

You can just throw the disc directly at your opponent, but Windjammers 2 gives you many more options besides that. To really excel at the game, you’ll have to make use of the most extravagant moves you can, dashing across the court, leaping into the air, tossing the disc above you before slamming it down into your opponent, to list only a few of the uber-athletic abilities at your disposal. The game can move extremely quickly when both players take advantage of these capabilities, yet things never feel overwhelming. I always felt in control of the action, even when my quickest reflexes were put to the test. It’s fast-paced disc throwing insanity, and I couldn’t get enough of it.

Animated GIF

Just like the rest of DotEmu’s catalogue, Windjammers 2 combines classic gameplay with gorgeous modern aesthetics. It has the same hand-drawn style that makes other DotEmu titles stand out, like Wonderboy: The Dragon’s Trap. The original Windjammers was a time capsule of garish 90s style, and that design is retained for the new release, with characters looking even more colorful and absurd than ever thanks to the revitalized art and animations. Hectic to play and beautiful to behold, Windjammers 2 is already set to be a multiplayer hit.

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Young Souls

Streets of Rage 4 was certainly the premier beat ‘em up on display at DotEmu’s booth, but it wasn’t the only one. Alongside this retro revival was an all-new take on the genre: Young Souls, an extremely stylish action game that blends fast-paced fighting with deep RPG customization and a charming, emotional narrative.

Beat ‘em ups might not be known for deep storylines, but Young Souls aspires to something more. Along with its satisfying combat mechanics and plentiful flexibility for character builds, it also boasts of having “a profound story with unforgettable characters.” While my demo didn’t give me much of a look at this deep narrative, it’s reasonable to assume that the story will at least be quality, since it’s penned by none other than the author of the Walking Dead games, Matthew Ritter.

Animated GIF

However, I did get a substantial feel for combat. Young Souls features more than 70 monster-filled dungeons, and I got to venture into two of them in my demo. The action feels weighty and solid when going up against enemies, yet precise at the same time. Like any classic beat ‘em up, there’s a mixture of light and heavy attacks, along with blocks and powerful special moves, along with items and spells to exploit during combat as well. In between battles, you’re able to deck your character out in equipment and items, allowing for an element of roleplaying depth that isn’t typically associated with action games like this. In my short time with the game, it was fun to experiment with different character builds, which could determine the speed and abilities of my fighter, promising combat for the final game.

I played the demo both solo and co-op; in single-player, you’re able to switch between the two twins at will, while two players can each take control of a sibling. In both playstyles, the gameplay was just as visceral and satisfying as one would expect from a classic-style beat ‘em up like this, but the addition of a deep story and RPG mechanics put a unique spin on this entry. That’s not to mention that, like every other game at the DotEmu and Arcade Crew booth, it’s visually beautiful, featuring stylish 2D characters in 3D environments that are all rendered in gentle, washed-out colors. Young Souls might not have a release date or even any confirmed platforms as of now, but it’s absolutely worth keeping an eye on in the meantime.

KUNAI

KUNAI takes the typical metroidvania formula and boosts it to hyperspeed. It has all the hidden secrets and massively interconnected world exploration that you’d expect from the genre, and it gives you the ability to speed through that faster and more dynamically than ever. Its main gimmick is right in the name – by giving you two kunai hookshots, you’re able to traverse up and down your environments with speed and freedom, making for a uniquely vertical method to explore.

KUNAI starts out with the end of the world. In a dystopian future where technology has taken over, you control Tabby, a sentient and heroic tablet that’s dead set on liberating the planet. This serious plot is filled with plenty of personality, however, from the silly faces that Tabby makes in action to the charming dialogue and quirky character designs. This personality is rendered in appealing detail thanks to the game’s simple yet effective pixel art.

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It’s in the gameplay where KUNAI truly shines. With the eponymous kunai, you’re able to latch onto vertical surfaces. Combine this with the additional abilities to dash, bounce off enemies, or wall jump, and it provides for a uniquely dynamic method of exploring the world. Using the kunai feels easy and intuitive, fast enough to gain speed but never too floaty. It’s a balanced approach to speed and movement that never gets out of control, resulting in what it is perhaps the best-feeling movement of any metroidvania I’ve played recently. My demo was brief, and ended very soon after first getting the kunai, but the gameplay felt so smooth and natural that I can’t wait to experience more of it. Thankfully, it’s not long to wait, since KUNAI hits Switch and PC on February 6.

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PAX South Hands-On: ‘Streets of Rage 4’ Balances Legacy and Innovation

Streets of Rage 4 embodies the original series’ elegant, action-packed design and revives it for a new generation.

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Streets of Rage 4

From the moment I began my demo with Streets of Rage 4 at PAX South, it felt like coming home. It might have been more than two decades since the first three games in the Streets of Rage series perfected the beat ‘em up formula on the Sega Genesis, but courtesy of developers Lizardcube, DotEmu, and Guard Crush, this legendary series is back and in good hands. This brand new entry aims to recapture all the style and balance of the originals, while introducing innovations of its own. If my demo is any indication, the game is set to achieve that.

Streets of Rage 4 uses the same elegant level design that set the original trilogy apart back on the Genesis. The gameplay is simple: keep walking to the right, taking out every enemy in front of you with all the jabs, kicks, jumps, and special moves at your disposal. If anything, the controls feel better than ever before, with an added level of precision and fluidity that simply wasn’t possible on older hardware.

Streets of Rage 4

That’s not to mention the new move sets. Beat ’em ups might not be the most complex genre around, but Streets of Rage 4 adds the perfect level of depth to the combat. It has the same simple jabs and kicks found in the original games, but spiced up with the potential for new combos and even a handful of extravagant new special moves. With new and old fighting mechanics, this new entry features plenty of room to experiment with combat but never loses the simple, arcade-like charm of the originals.

Streets of Rage 4 revives the series’ rage-filled and action-packed style for the twenty-first century

The demo included series staple characters like Axel and Blaze, yet I opted to play as an all-new character: Cherry Hunter, a guitar-wielding fighter whose move set felt very distinct from classic characters. Her movement is speedy, certainly faster than Axel but slower than Blaze, and her guitar provided for some unique melee moves. Like the new mechanics, her addition to the character roster helps shake up the Streets of Rage formula just enough, while maintaining the core beat ’em up simplicity that made the series special in the first place.

Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4 might innovate in a few areas, but one thing that’s clearly remained true to form is the difficulty. It boasts of the same old school difficulty that characterized the original games. The classic and brand new enemies are just as ruthless as ever, mercilessly crowding in around you and can easily overwhelm you if you’re not careful. However, just like the originals, the fighting feels so satisfying that it’s easy to keep coming back for more action.

Amid all these changes and additions, perhaps the most obvious (and controversial) change is the visual style. While the original series used detailed pixel art, Streets of Rage 4 instead boasts of an extremely detailed handcrafted art style, in which every frame of character animation is painstakingly drawn by hand and environments are colorful and painterly. Thousands of frames of animation go into each character, and the effort certainly shows, making every punch, kick, and other acts of violence a breathtaking sight to behold.

Streets of Rage 4 reimagines this classic series for a new generation, reintroducing the best of the beat ’em up genre for players of all backgrounds and experiences.

Some fans have complained that the game loses the series’ spirit without pixel art, but DotEmu marketing director Arnaud De Sousa insisted to me that this simply isn’t the case. Pixel art wasn’t an artistic choice back then – it was a matter of necessity. If the developers could have designed the game to look exactly as they wanted, regardless of technical limitations, then it likely would have looked just like the luscious hand-drawn visuals of the current Streets of Rage 4.

That’s not to mention that, as De Sousa emphasized, the Streets of Rage games are defined by looking different from one another. The third game looks different from the second, which looked different from the first – and now this new entry has twenty years of change to catch up on. Thus, it only makes sense for this new entry to adopt a radically new graphical style after all this time.

Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4 reimagines this classic series for a new generation, reintroducing the best of the beat ’em up genre for players of all backgrounds and experiences. The difference between De Sousa and myself is perfect evidence of that. He grew up playing the games in the 90s, whereas I wasn’t even born when the original trilogy became such a phenomenon and only played them years later in subsequent re-releases. Yet here we were, standing in the middle of a crowded convention and gushing about decades-old games. We might have had extremely different experiences with the series, but that didn’t stop us from appreciating the joys of stylish beat ’em up action.

“A good game is a good game,” De Sousa told me, “no matter how old.” That’s the attitude that Streets of Rage 4 exemplifies. It revives the series’ rage-filled and action-packed design for the twenty-first century. And with a release on all modern platforms, more players than ever will be able to rediscover the simple pleasure of wielding your bare knuckles against thugs of all types. Between the new art style and the solid gameplay, Streets of Rage 4 is looking like an incredibly welcome return for this iconic franchise.

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