The gameplay teaser that followed half a year later showed a 2D game that seemed to play like the originals, but the art style still did not seem to be "right". Why is art such a massive departure? Would the game feel so direct and satisfying? These were the questions that I silently asked myself (as opposed to many fans in social media).
Then came the musicians. Last month, game publisher Dotemu announced that Motohiro Kawashima and Yuzo Koshiro, whose contributions to the original soundtracks are legendary, were on board along with Hedeki Naganuma (1
So, with some discomfort, I came to my 30-minute demo at Gamescom. To be honest, I expected great music to be an insurmountable tribute to a long-dead series of games. I was wrong. Streets of Rage 4 plays and looks like a dream.
The game is being developed by three studios: Lizardcube, the Wonder Boy 2017 with The Dragon's Trap [RaisingtoLife makes the artwork; Guard Crush Games, responsible for the incredibly good XBLA beat – "em-up Streets of Fury lends its engine and takes over the programming. Publisher Dotemu helps with game design and, of course, with publishing.
It only took a few seconds for me to play Streets of Rage 4 to understand how much love flowed into this game. The characters are hand drawn but precise and reflect the feel of the original pixel art. Everything is richly animated. It still feels like a Saturday morning cartoon, but with a 12x higher frame rate. This is a style that publisher Dotemu seems to like: The Wonder Boy remake that Lizardcube worked on is understandably comparable, and Windjammers 2 similarly replaces decades-old pixel art with sharp hand-drawn lines.
DJ K-washi's (Streets of Rage 4 OST) by Motohiro Kawashima
So Streets of Rage 4 convinced me in spite of all adversities in record time. Although the developers have not yet announced when the game will be released, we know that it will be available on all expected platforms: PlayStation, Xbox, Switch and PC. I assume that in the coming weeks and months, Dotemu will continue to leak information about characters, enemies, music and the like before announcing the release date and prices.