STREETS OF RAGE 2 / Sega / Genesis (1993)
Streets of Rage 2 was where the series started to establish its own identity, rather than being just a poor man's Final Fight. Everything about this game is a step up from the original. The graphics are better, the levels are much more inventive and paced a lot better, the gameplay's smoother with a few new moves, and there's four playable characters now (Adam, who was sort of just a black clone of Alex, has been dropped for giant wrestler Max and quick rollerblader kid Skate). Yuzo Koshiro's back with another nice pumpin' industrial soundtrack that manages to use the Genesis sound chip as well as it can be used. The first five levels are great, but unfortunately that's about where new enemy designs stop appearing and the final five levels turn into this tedious festival of the most annoying enemies in the game being palette-swapped and tossed out at you over and over and over again in endless waves. The great music and colorful backgrounds help to buoy it somewhat, but eventually you'll get fed up of fighting the same boss enemy for the fifth time with the same old cheap moves. Still, this one is an OK choice for two players, and since you can listen to all the music from the options screen it might be worth a download just to pump the soundtrack and have some crazy Yuzo Koshiro dance party.
Streets of Rage PC Remake (unfinished, work in progress, features new and unlockable content)