In a world that is mostly bullshit, it's nice to have a game with zero bullshit. All you're here to do is wail on people. You walk to the right and you wail. That is it. Is there a story? Sure. But you're too busy hammering on buttons to start the game to notice. If you die, you get to continue and if you run out of continues it's game over. If you keep moving to the right and you beat up everybody (without dying) then you win. You don't save your game, you just keep playing until you die or you come out victorious. The agony of defeat and the glory of victory are lessons that are swiftly imparted on anybody who plays. If only all things in life were so simple.
Lead Pipes Upside Your Head
In all of video games, the most satisfying feeling to date for me has been cracking someone upside their head (can you go upside any human body part other than head?) with a lead pipe in Streets of Rage 2. The sound effect is perfect and the amount of damage these things do on a life bar can be best described as appropriate. Also, this weapon really reflects the "streets" part of the game. In fact, let's broad number 2 to just weapons in general. Daggers! Switchblades! Samurai swords! These are some mean streets! Once you grow weary of wielding these weapons you can throw them at enemies. Just when you think hitting five guys in the face with a pipe can't get any better, you nail the sixth while he's riding a motorcycle across the room. It might be the closest any of us ever get to feeling truly alive.
Skate Was The Coolest
You guys remember the 90's? In case you don't, here's a quick summary: Everybody was on rollerblades all the time. It was the most effective way to get around. The brakes on the back were for idiots and real G's just turned really fast to slow their roll. Oh yeah, and Jurassic Park. That about sums up the decade. Skate is a character that could've only existed in the 90's: roaming the streets beating people up people while wearing his rollerblades. He wasn't the strongest by any stretch (an important trait in a game where your only goal is to smash faces in) but he more than made up for that with his ability to look cool. With a name like Skate, it's a good thing he was into rollerblades. He really lucked out with his hobby choice.
Turkeys Give You All The Health
Who decided that eating a giant turkey while fighting in a video game = health? Anybody who has tried to eat even a quarter of a turkey in a non-combat/real life situation can attest that it slows you down more than speeds you up. Also, if you've just been stabbed in the shoulder with a dagger I'm not sure 50 cc's of dark meat is what the doctor ordered. Still, there's something remarkably simple about the idea of eating a turkey to regenerate your health, and that goes back to reason number 1 this game is so great: no bullshit. There's no going to find some store where you buy health. There's no hiding in a corner like a baby to wait for your health to regenerate like modern games. Nope. You either found an apple on the ground to get a little health or you ate a giant turkey LIKE AN ADULT all by yourself to get all of the health. No sharing this with your teammate. You are a hungry fighter, and you need your turkey. Turkeys mean life or death on these streets.
Complex Button Combinations
This one is only for the hardcore SOR2 fans, so bare with me. Or feel free to skip to the next one. Or just throw your computer in a trash can. Nobody is making you read this, ya know. On first glance it would appear the game has three buttons. Two of them attack your opponent and one of them jumps. Pretty straightforward, right? WRONG. Each character has three different jump attacks! Pressing forward + forward + attack gives you a special attack! Holding down the attack button for a few seconds gives you another special attack! IT TOOK ME UNTIL I WAS 20 YEARS OLD TO FIGURE ALL OF THIS OUT AND I STARTED PLAYING THIS GAME WHEN I WAS FIVE. Either I am dumb (an option that's always on the table) or this is the best game ever with deep levels of complexity underneath its wonderfully simple control scheme. This means anybody can pick it up, but it takes you damn near two decades to perfect your fighting style. All this information is in the manual, but real winners don't have time for that garbage.
Hard Mode is Hard and Hardest is a Fucking Joke
This game was for kids (I think? I don't know, actually. It was violent as all hell but every kid I knew loved it.) but hard mode was for the grown ups. Hard mode was an exercise in...well, it was exercise. You sweat. Your heart rate accelerates. You might even bleed. Expect to throw your controller. If hard mode is for the adults, hardest mode is for the aliens. I don't know a being on earth that can casually play this game on hardest and win. Just to see the final stage, you need to make zero mistakes and even then you need a whole lot of luck. Some people might say this is a bad thing, but they are dumb. They are dumb people. Why do you even talk to those people, anyway? Hardest mode SHOULD BE THE HARDEST! That's why it is called hardest. Again, no bullshit with this game. The icing on the cake? If you do beat the game on the hardest difficulty setting, you unlock a mode called mania where the programmers basically show up to your house to gang rape you and your family with lead pipes. Sure, the premise and gameplay is simple but it's a game that will challenge you for the rest of your life. And it's fun, too! Hey, video games that are made nearly 20 years later...WHY ARE YOU NOT AS GOOD AS THIS?