Streets of Rage 2
From Sega Retro
Streets of Rage 2, known as Bare Knuckle II: Shitou e no Requiem (ベア・ナックルII 死闘への鎮魂歌 lit. Bare Knuckle II: Requiem to the Deadly Struggle) in Japan, is a side-scrolling beat-'em-up game for the Sega Mega Drive, released in early 1993 as a sequel to Streets of Rage. It also received 8-bit ports for the Sega Master System and Sega Game Gear around the same period.
One year after the events of Streets of Rage, the game's former protagonists Adam Hunter, Axel Stone, and Blaze Fielding go to a nightspot and reminisce over their defeat of Mr. X. The following day Axel gets a call from Eddie "Skate" Hunter, Adam's younger brother, telling him that he returned to the brothers' house to find it in shambles, with a picture of Adam chained to a wall next to Mr. X left behind. Axel, Blaze, Skate and their friend Max embark on a mission to rescue their friend, traversing through the city once again overrun by Mr. X's criminal gang.
For the most part, Streets of Rage 2 remains largely unchanged from its predecessor in terms of gameplay, however makes several important additions which would become staples in the series.
Rather than all characters sharind the same special move to defeat all on-screen enemies, each character is given their own unique blitz attack, which allows the player to deal great damage with a single hit. Also included are 'breakout' moves that allow them to break out of holds, which can in turn damage enemies both in front of and behind them. The amount of times that blitz and breakout attacks can be used is limited, as each decreases the player's life gauge (the latter only if the move connects, the former always).In addition, each character has a unique move (e.g. Axel's Grand Upper, noted above) that causes substantial damage without depleting their energy.
The most notable change between Streets of Rage and Streets of Rage 2 are the aesthetics - Streets of Rage 2 uses bigger sprites and backgrounds, which in turn leads to greater combat accuracy (at the expense of screen estate). Characters are all individually named and there are more special effects.
Axel Stone is the most popular character, and the best choice for beginners due to his all-round stats. His blitz attack is the Grand Upper, which is arguably the most useful and effective move of the game due to its high damage but relatively fast execution, which make it effective against bosses and enemies with a "breakout" special move. He has average movement speed and agility.
Blaze Fielding is another well rounded and popular character. Her speed rating on the character select screen matches that of Axel, although she appears to be faster (this is because the Star system isn't tied to the actual programmed stats, therefore, she actually is faster, her skill stars just don't show it), She also deals less damage with some of her moves.
Eddie "Skate" Hunter (Sammy Hunter in Japan - reference to the Sega-published DJ Boy, by Sammy) is the lightest and most agile character, the weakest in terms of combo damage, but the second strongest in terms of grappling. Skate is the only character capable of sprinting, thanks to the rollerskates after which he is named, which can allow him to escape many attacks which the other characters would not be able to avoid.
Max Thunder is the 'powerhouse' of the game, possessing great strength. This is offset by his very slow speed, which puts him at a disadvantage with speedier enemies.
Varying levels of censorship were included for western releases of the game. In the North American version, the cigar smoked by Mr. X in round 8 is removed, as is the ability to see up Blaze's skirt when she performs certain moves. The European version has the upskirt animations, but no cigar. There are minor name changes across characters also.
Streets of Rage 2 was one of the first Mega Drive titles to be region locked, however data is largely consistent between the two versions (i.e. there are two title screens, just one is disabled). If one changes the region in an emulator, elements of the game may change, and if physical cartridge sizes were not an issue, the European and Japanese versions of the game would be interchangeable (although at the correct speed, as the PAL version runs in unoptimised 50Hz) and vice versa.
Streets of Rage 2's soundtrack was composed by Yuzo Koshiro (known for his work on the first Streets of Rage and The Revenge of Shinobi) and Motohiro Kawashima. This soundtrack is considered by some to be the best of the series, and the printed album is by far the easiest of the series' printed releases to find since there was a US release as well as a Japanese one.
A prototype of Bare Knuckle II is was leaked onto the internet, with the dump being very different from the final, and only Round 1 being playable. The prototype lacks sound effects, and the scrapped music track "Walking Bottom" is played throughout. The player cannot pick up weapons, even if they are within range. Max has a different sprite set, and can vault enemies, which means he cannot perform his Atomic power throw.
Sequels and Re-releases
The direct sequel, Streets of Rage 3, borrows heavily from Streets of Rage 2.
Streets of Rage 2 has been included on numerous compilations of Mega Drive games and was brought to the Mega Play arcade system. It is also available via a number of download services.
Mega Drive Version
Main Program: Akitoshi Kawano (Shout! Ow)
Project Management: Wanta
Obj Design: Ayano Koshiro (Ancient), Hitoshi Ariga, Tomoharu Saitoh, Anything, Pochi
Team Streets of Rage, Zozo, Todo, Y.K.K, Hassy, Kyoten
Game Gear Version
Planning: Monty, Show, Mud
Main Programming: Mud
Obj Design: Python
Ancient, Team S.O.R., B.T.R., C.O.M., Abadede Jr.
Mega Drive version
Master System version
Game Gear version