Streets of Rage 4 is the long-awaited follow-up to the legendary Sega Genesis/Master Drive brawler series of the same name. The beat-em-up is a fairly straightforward affair, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t a bunch of neat little tricks that’ll help you and your crew stay alive. Here are 14 things Streets of Rage 4 doesn’t tell you.
Launch Recovery with the Jump Button
You will get thrashed around in this game unless you’re a total ninja. Getting overwhelmed with enemies or just being out of position when an enemy uses their strongest attack will send you flying and vulnerable. If you’re patient, you can hit the jump button (A on Xbox Controllers) just as you hit the ground to recover immediately from a blow that sends you flying. Don’t spam it, however, as it appears it only counts if you hit it once upon landing. This recovery can save you precious time as you move in position for your next attack.
Not Hungry? Eat Anyway.
Let’s say you clear a room and you’re staring down a couple apples (partial health recovery) and a turkey (full health recovery) but your health bar is full. Your instinct might be to just leave since you don’t need the health. Au contraire! Those health recovery items also provide points that add to your score and will lead to new lives and other bonuses once you complete a level. There’s really no downside to chowing down before you leave a screen even if you don’t need it.
Work On Your Turkey Strategy
That said, leaving a turkey on screen for just the right time is a really nice way to gain an extra life of sorts without racking up major points. My tip would be to destroy all pickup locations (boxes, drums, statues) as soon as you can per screen. If there’s a turkey, chances are you’re about to get dropped in on by some tough enemies or you already did. If you move within a fairly short radius of the turkey while you fight, you can pick it up right before death to get a major boost during a tough brawl.
Backgrounds Can Be Deceiving
The hand drawn backgrounds in this game are gorgeous, but they do cause one little problem from time to time: they can obscure what’s interactable and what’s not. For the most part, it’s pretty clear when an object can be hit for money or health recovery, but it doesn’t hurt to just swing at other things in the background art, too. In the first level, for example, the car that crashes into a group on enemies can be destroyed Street Fighter 2 style for extra special moves.
You Can Take Weapons With You
A pretty major departure from previous Streets of Rage games is the fact that you can now take weapons with you between screens. Weapons are pretty useful whether you’re swinging for the fences with a pipe or throwing a cleaver straight through a line of fools. If there’s a fresh weapon dropped before a screen change, just grab that thing and move on. You can even take weapons into boss fights for a nice advantage right off the bat. More like right on the bat, amirite. Like you hitting a dude with a bat. You know? Where are you going?
You can throw weapons with B (on an Xbox One controller), but certain weapons won’t disappear after you connect with a throw like pipes, bats, and swords. You can catch them on the rebound, creating some really amazing kinetic action sequences if you get your timing right. At its best, it reminds me of Breath of the Wild fights with a boomerang. You can really stack up damage quick on a screen full on enemies with throwing and catching and can create some distance between you and groups pretty quickly this way!
Combos Are Jazz
You’re given standard combos that you can execute all the time, but one of the joys of Streets of Rage is using timing to maximize your combo damage. Hit two quick jabs, then pause for a second, hit another quick few jabs, pause, move in for a grapple, strike twice, throw. That’s an example of a nice improvised combo you can master pretty easily, but Streets of Rage 4 can take these off-the-books combos to the next level…
Learn How To Juggle
Juggling is nothing new for fighting game fans, but it is relatively new for the Streets of Rage series. Hitting enemies in mid air for extra damage before they get some invincibility frames while they recover is the key to mastering some boss fights and groups of tougher enemies (especially on harder difficulties). Though the developers have patched out a couple infinite combos folks found during the review period, you can still do very significant amounts of damage in a short time (even on bosses) if you can corner them.
Blinking Means Back Off
Some enemies, but mostly bosses, will blink before they unleash a powerful, non-interruptible attack. More times than not, this means you should back off. Jump right before they attack to give you a few frames of extra security as you retreat. If an enemy blinks red, it means they’re about to try to aggressively grab you. Usually their range of grab is only a person width away, so as long as you keep some distance you should be safe. As they approach for a grab, it’s good to get a few jabs in to interrupt them and cancel the grab. Note that regular blinking attacks typically can’t be interrupted and it’s best to just get away and close in again when the attack is over.
The Environment Is Your Friend
Is there a puddle of acid on screen? Gaping hole in the ground? You should definitely avoid these traps yourself, but it also totally means you can get enemies in a heap of trouble. Throw enemies into a hole and they’re gone forever. Get in front of an acid puddle while an enemy is approaching and they’ll probably move through it, poisoning them and setting you up to get a quick kill. Almost everything that’s a hazard for you is also a hazard for everyone on screen.
Use Vertical Space
You need to be directly in front of someone to land a blow, but using the vertical space can help you defensively (see Blinking Means Back Off) and offensively. On the aggressive side, initiating a grapple is as easy as moving directly into an enemy’s hit box. Horizontally, this is a dangerous proposition, as they’ll likely be able to get off an attack or two before you close in. However, you can approach enemies from below or above to collide with their hit box before they’re even able to jab. Some enemies, like the gi-clad tough guys you start to see in the Chinatown level, are best beaten with this technique. Some enemies will be able to jump attack vertically into your lane, but they also telegraph those moves by crouching menacingly, giving you a cue to move around before attempting to grapple them from a vertical position.
Don’t Get Greedy
When bosses lose half their health, they typically enter into a new phase where they’re able to use their special attacks in more dangerous ways. If someone’s ranged defensive move is slow and doesn’t take up a lot of space normally, in Danger Mode this attack is quicker and larger in range. If a boss can attack you once with a quick powerful blinking move, they’ll be able to do it three times in quick succession in Danger Mode. You’ll be tempted at times to want to get in a few strikes during boss attack wind-ups, which might be okay before they lose half their health but extremely dangerous when they’re near death. Stay disciplined and don’t get too greedy in those moments.
Take Advantage of Natural Teams
At various points in the game, you’ll be squaring off against The Y Kids’ gang of miscreants as well as corrupt cops, but those two factions also hate each other. Use this to your advantage. Whenever cops and gang members are in close quarters, they’ll fight each other, creating a distraction or even a major damage dealing opportunity if you play your cards right. Throw a gang member across the screen into some cops, the cops might finish the job for you and vice versa.
Use Your Regular Specials Liberally (If You’re Good)
Your Y (on Xbox controllers) special attacks take some of your health bar away, but allow you to earn it back if you deal damage after the attack without being hit. This creates a cycle where you can, in theory, unleash consistent high-damage attacks that help with crowd control or finishing off a particularly nasty group of enemies if you can manage to consistently stay unscathed in the immediate aftermath. This way, you can use high-damage attacks without using your extremely powerful Star Attacks, which should be saved for emergencies and finishing off bosses.