In my younger years my brawler of choice was Double Dragon II, but that was mainly because I didn’t get a Mega Drive until much later on. That’s not to say I didn’t sample the delights of Streets of Rage, though. I remember playing it for the first time round a friend’s house, co-op’ing our way to victory by smashing thugs with our virtual fists of fury. However, as good as SoR I was, the defining entry was clearly Streets of Rage II thanks to its more varied enemies, brand new special moves, and differing boss fights. Years later, it’s still considered one of the best games the genre has produced.

With Sega having already given the first game a 3D makeover, along with other classics like Thunder Blade and Outrun, there have been many brawler fans waiting for 3D Streets of Rage II to make its glorious return. The good news is that the wait has been absolutely worth it, and the 3DS version not only adds depth in terms of its visuals, but in its accessibility and longevity too.

For those of you monstrous enough to have never played it before, Streets of Rage II is a side-scrolling beat-em-up released over 20 years ago on the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis. From a story perspective, it takes place a year after the original where our heroes had cleaned up the mean streets of the city. Unfortunately, bad guy Mr X has returned to power and brought the city to its knees yet again. Not content with that, he has even kidnapped original hero Adam, and so Axel and Blaze, along with newcomers Max and Skate (Adam’s little brother) team up to deliver some much-needed justice the only way they know how – punching and kicking anything that moves.

The charm from the original release is still there. From the fantastic midi-based soundtrack bringing unique flavours to each setting, to the pixelated graphics of the original models (all housed in the original 4:3 ratio) it all looks and sounds like the SoR II from yesteryear. The big visual addition is the inclusion of 3D, which I’m happy to say words really well with the retro art style in action. The additional depth on screen helps give iconic locations such as the bar and the elevator a new lease of life, and even helps with identifying how far up or down the screen enemies actually are. The end result looked incredibly crisp on my 3DS XL, all thanks to slight touch-up the 20-something-year-old graphics have had.

The gameplay remains mostly untouched as well, with the simple controls remaining just as responsive and visceral as ever. There is one big addition though with a rear attack shortcut mapped to the right shoulder button, although the button combos are still there for those who truly want to go old-school with their playthrough. With the challenging encounters and fiendish boss fights still capable of testing my skills, I found the shortcut button invaluable, especially as the special moves – unique to each character – cost a chunk of your life bar to execute.

While the original game and all its challenges are still there to be replayed once again, the developers have added in several different modes to cater to all tastes. The first is Rage Mode, which allows the player to choose the order of the characters they wish to play with, moving the next one when their current character’s health reaches zero. For those who need something a little easier, Casual Mode weakens all enemies to allow new players to play through the game with ease. Both modes, along with the standard game type, come with the leaderboards to measure your beat-em-up prowess, although a lack of online leaderboard is a little disappointing.

Additionally, players can alter the difficulty level manually, as well as a level select option, meaning they should be spoilt for choice.

One aspect I wasn’t able to test out was the co-op functionality, which allows two players to play through the game or duel against each other. The only downside to this is that both players must own the game (no Download Play, sadly) but that brings me nicely onto my next point – the price. At £4.49 it really is worth every penny, and so if you and a friend wish to battle through the streets of the city together – or even if you just want to relive a genuine classic – I honestly think you’ll find the price of entry fantastic value.


  • Original game still as fun & challenging as it was 20+ years ago
  • Visual touch-ups, along with 3D implementation, are superbly done.
  • Various modes allow newcomers and experts alike to play as they want to.


  • The lack of online leadersboards is a shame.
  • The guy with the jetpack is still an absolute swine.
  • It really makes other side-scrollers look sub-par, even to this day.

The Short Version:

With a host of options adding accessibility and longevity, 3DS Streets of Rage II turns the best game in the series into a definitive version. Crisp visuals and fun, responsive gameplay will remind fans of the original why it was so great, and educate newcomers as to why it was – and frankly still is – the crème de la crème of side-scrolling beat-em-ups.

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Platforms: Nintendo 3DS

Developer: M2

Publisher: Sega