Format: Sega Mega Drive
Another rare game in my long list of memories that include my brother, Sam, is Streets of Rage 2. It was the best in a trilogy of side scrolling beat-em-ups on the Sega Mega Drive. (Genesis in America). We would always play as the same 2 characters: I was Axel, and my brother would be Skate. He loved the agility and bombastic acrobatics that the tiny skater dude could pull off. Many of the boss fights would end with Sam leaping onto their necks and pummelling them in the back of the head. I liked Axel’s swinging flaming punch, and his multi-hit special combo. It’s a simple but satisfying game built around stylised hand to hand violence.
We played it to death and memorised each and every level. There’s a hidden 1up tucked inside the mist at the bottom of the screen just after you kill the floating chain monster head in the haunted house level… The huge wrestler bosses are pretty much immune to grab moves – if you touch them for much longer than a second, they will break out of it with devastating force. And pipes are just badass. They’re the best weapon in the game and must never be missed. If you’re already holding one, make sure you don’t accidentally juggle it with another weapon on the ground and use up all of its uses. Brotherly arguments would ensue if you wasted both weapons…
I remember thinking nothing of the absurdity that eating apples out of bins boosted your health, and a garbage roast turkey was a special treat that would completely refill one’s HP meter. Every smashable object in the game yielded either edible treats or sacks of money and even gold bars, so my brother and I would just punch everything in sight and then occasionally get angry at each other for stealing the extra turkey during a tough boss fight…ah, brothers, eh?
But in the end, we triumphed. Streets of Rage 2 might actually be the first game I ever completed. I remember it feeling like such a momentous achievement when we finally defeated Mr X or whatever his name is, the big bad boss at the end of the final level. Back then, it felt like a really long game, but when I replayed it with my friend Robbie on the 360 a few years ago, I was surprised to find it only takes about 30 minutes to play through, assuming you both know what you’re doing. It may be shorter than I remember, but it’s still totally satisfying to play. Beating up hordes of thugs, punks and giant fat fire-breathing baby men doesn’t get old, apparently.