TWENTY-FIFTH MEGA DRIVE CHAMPIONSHIP: CHALLENGE ANNOUNCEMENT
26th July 2013
Streets of Rage 2 is a popular Mega Drive title and is already used in the tournaments, however, with some alterations it has been decided that this will be the Challenge game for the Twenty-Fifth Mega Drive Championship.
THE CHALLENGE: To get as far as humanly possible on the mania mode of Streets of Rage 2 with one-life and no continues. Or, as translated by Earl Holbrook, 'get as far as you can against impossible odds'.
THE GAME: Streets of Rage 2 was released in 1992 as a sequel to the awesome Streets of Rage. One year after Adam, Axel and Blaze took down Mr X's evil corrupt syndicate, the machine gun wielding bastard has returned and has captured hero Adam Hunter. Fully aware that Mr X is attempting to lure them into a trap, Axel and Blaze set off to rescue their friend and with them comes Adam's kid brother Eddie "Skate" Hunter and Max Hatchett, a wrestling pal of Axels. The sequel possesses a number of improvements over the original; firstly the characters are more dynamic and there are noticeable differences between the selections, with each possessing their own unique special moves, strengths and weaknesses. The array of enemies you will face improves significantly over the original title, although the standard Galsia and Signal enemies present in the first game return. The weapons available have been tweaked, gone are the glass bottle and useless pepper and in their stead swords and shurikens are available. The graphics have been beefed up and the music remains as funky as ever, it is time to flex those fists on the streets of rage.
THE CHARACTERS: Streets of Rage 2 has four playable characters. Yet, because of the ramped up difficulty of the mania mode, a player may sabotage their chances of success as early as the character selection screen! We shall take a little look at the options facing the Twenty-Fifth Tournament challengers.
Max: Max is a new character to the Streets of Rage line-up and is well suited to the mania mode battle. Sure he is a cumbersome character, however, he is the strongest character in the game and his moves are extremely effective in despatching enemies. Max is extremely effective with poles, bats and swords; capable of hitting enemies in front and behind in one attack. His power slide is almost as good as his thunder charge and his back-breaker move is the most powerful in the game. His lack of speed becomes a handicap later on the game, but since survival in the early levels is the order of the day, he is well recommended for this challenge.
Blaze: A survivor from Streets of Rage. Although Blaze is an extremely effective and fun character in the lower difficulties, where a player may take advantage of her jump attacks and throws, her basic moves are weak and it is difficult to put together her stronger moves with the array of enemies; the uppercuts from the Donovan character neutralizing her useful jump and forward-forward-B attacks. Still her impressive array of special moves and good throwing attacks still make her a useful character, although she is unlikely to endure the mania battle in the same manner as Axel or Max. Select with caution!
Axel: Another survivor from the original game and likely to be the choice of most tournament members - not necessarily a bad one either. His crappy kicks are advantageous as they largely slip below the radar of Donovan's uppercuts, Axel’s grand upper and dragon wing attacks are very useful at dispatching groups of thugs. He is the second strongest character in the game and is useful with weapons. Axel, however, is not perfect: his dragon smash attack invites damage from the back and his throws can leave him vulnerable to enemies. That aside, he is probably the best choice for the mania challenge.
Skate: The younger brother of Adam from the original title, Skate is the only player to possess a sprint move and his advantage comes from his speed. This advantage is completely negated in Mania mode and his disadvantage of being the weakest character is highlighted significantly. His migraine attack leaves him too vulnerable and Skate is also worthless with any decent weapon. Merely surviving the first wave of enemies would be an achievement with Skate let alone being able to progress a decent distance in the game. Therefore we advise avoiding him like leprosy.
Welcome to the mean streets! The first section features a short horizontal walk and the chance to get familiar with the mania mode. Enemies feature Galsia, Donovan and a few Signals - nothing too challenging you would think, but with speed and strength which makes Marshall Bravestarr appear like a Care Bear, this minor stroll will see the health bar turning from yellow to red astonishingly quickly, luckily there is a hidden extra life in this section which might spare blushes of a very early elimination. Those fools who ignored our warning and selected Skate will probably be dead before the end of this section.
The appearance of the "Go" arrow indicates the completion of the first section and acts as the first checkpoint - hearty applause goes to those who have survived this long! The street dips diagonally down, as the game throws more of the same basic enemies at the player. There are two redeeming features of this part of the level. Firstly, smashing open a bin reveals an apple, which will restore some of the likely depleted health bar - yum bin apples! Secondly, the wall is an effective way of stopping foes creeping behind you and thus offers some protection. At the bottom of the diagonal the scrolling ends and you must fight against a few Donovan and Signal enemies in order to progress. Does that health bar look dangerously red by now?
For those who selected Max, this stretch of level will vindicate your choice, as the opportunity to pick up a pole arises. The "Go" arrow allows the player to move along another horizontal section, there is also an apple to boost your health down here so don't forget to grab it. The two Donovan type enemies who leap from the sewers are worth 10,000 points each and this should allow your feeble life counter to expanded from "1" to "2" - although be under no illusion; it will soon be falling back to "1", but this is a massive boost. Those who picked up the hidden extra life at the start of the level might also have the amazing fortune of seeing the life counter on "3". The street thugs that appeared in the previous section are present again, but in greater numbers and some are armed. Jump kick or use special moves to take out the knife wielding Galsias.
The "Go" arrow indicates the next checkpoint and, after a few of the weaker thugs, you are challenged by the first strong character of the game; a knife wielding maniac called Jack. This section also contains the advantage of a handy chicken hidden behind one of the A-boards, which will restore the player’s health to full. Normally it is advised that such bounty is used only when the players health bar is low; since on mania mode this is likely to be all the time, grab it fast! The sub-boss isn't as difficult as he appears, although players would be warned he is considerably more dangerous when armed and has the ability to toss his knifes across the screen.
Beating Jack allows access to the bar area, which is largely filled with a collection of low level enemies such as Signals and Donovans. Fortunately, the numerous Signals are more annoying than dangerous, with their long range slide attack the most infuriating. Focusing on the Donovans and occasional Galsia is the best tactic here, as well as avoiding being attacked from both sides. There is an apple and additional cash bags lurking here and, with any luck, your points tally should reach 50,000 and thus earn you an extra life - yay!
How are you still alive? Once again, the "Go" arrow indicates the checkpoint and you enter a shorter stretch of bar which features a fight with the sub-boss Electra, a woman wielding an electric whip and dangerous jump kick. Smash the table to grab the apple and then beat down Electra, with the exception of her jump kick attack, it is best to fight in her face which renders her whip moves fairly useless (something they rectified for Streets of Rage 3). If you've gotten this far then wipe those sweaty palms - it's boss time!
The barman who ran out before you took on Electra is now waiting for you in the courtyard. Barbon is his name and he should be treated with a mixture of caution and respect. Whilst he is not the quickest boss, or indeed the most offensive of bosses, his strengths are in his counter attacks, although his throws can be rendered useless through the up+C landing control, his kicks can cause quite a lot of damage. Dispatch the weaker enemies and their roaming fists then go man-o-mano with the boss. The chicken in the bin at the top of the level restores your health to full, so wait until you're on the brink of death (probably upon starting the level) to collect it. Congratulations you have completed Stage 1 (and probably won the Challenge), only seven more levels to go!
So you have beaten Barbon and collected an extra life via the end of level points tally. The funky beats of Stage 2 introduces the player to the bridge level; there are a couple of barrels ahead which can be smashed for two cash bags, bars of gold and a knife and a Galsia and Donovan to ease you in. This is a short stretch which features a couple of bikes zoom past; if they hit you they cause damage, but the riders can be knocked off, before facing two Galsias and two stronger Donovan clones called "Z".
The "Go" arrow appears and two bikes zoom overhead, if you're in the centre of the screen they should cause you no problems. More bikes whizz by, a few Galsias and Donovans try to halt your advice, before the end of the section sees a fight with one of the bikers (called Storm). Luckily the Gods are smiling upon you and two barrels containing an apple and a pole are a welcome treat.
This section of the level is similar to the last one, albeit slightly trickier. Even more bikes zoom by, this time they will litter the playing field with grenades, some bikers won't give it up until you've dispatched them from their bikes with a satisfying jump kick to the face. An apple and a bar of gold await you at the end of this section where you are confronted with a pole wielding bastard biker called Tempest and a bike continuously zooming by until the rider is killed. Beware, Tempest is prone to picking up a discarded pole and using it to batter your brains in.
What do you mean you are still alive? Fret not, death is looming large. Numerous grenade throwing bikers cause chaos as you move towards the end of the bridge, where you are greeted by two Signals and a pole touting biker called "Blade". Of the three barrels, one contains a chicken and another cash bag. Ensure you don't make the mistake of leaving the chicken too long so that you exit this section of the level without a valuable health restore, upon the death of the final enemy you will be unable to collect it. The biker and Signal combination is a tricky one, however, if you've gotten this far then you should progress with ease.
The next section of the level is inside a truck. Try not to make yourself appear foolish by attacking the bikers at the back; they cannot be hit yet and attempts to do so will invite scorn from your fellow Mega Drive athletes. Here you are introduced to the Samurai enemies, with your first encounter being against a chap called Hakuyo. Backing him against the back wall is a good way to dispatch him. The bikers on the back wall come to life and another Samurai drops into the action, beat them to advance to the penultimate part of the level. Oh, and don't forget to collect the apple and cash bag that this section provides.
A return to the bridge holds no respite and is littered with Surgers (Galsia clones), Donovans and Signals. Fortunately those biker gits are absent (although fret not they return later in the game). Smash the roadblocks for goodies. There is another hidden extra life at the start of this section, finding it will increase your chances of defeating the looming boss, although such odds remain ridiculously close to zero.
Ok, if you've made it this far you seriously have to be some sort of Streets of Rage expert, however, be prepared to watch any remaining lives whittle away and death to embrace you. The boss is called Jet; an utter git who flys around the screen with a jetpack. The mania mode also gives Jet a friend called Tomcat who flighs and fights in the same manner, obviously, jumping attack are the best way to dispose of this boss, however, the battle is made more problematic by the array of "Donovan" type enemies mooching around. Jet and Tomcat also possess highly damaging grab moves, lifting the player into the air before crashing them back to earth; best to avoid this attack! Focusing your efforts on Jet is the best tactic, as once the boss is dead, his minions will die instantly. Although, since this is the mania mode, tactics are likely to go out the window as you attempt to land punches on anything in range.
Right, if any player has gotten remotely close to Stage 3 then it is doubtful that they require any tips or advice. The third level in the game is considerably longer than the previous two levels and although it starts off facing off against the numerous weak enemies which have been encountered before, the ante is upped throughout this stage as enemies get progressively tougher. The first section takes place on the streets, before entering an arcade in which an array of Signals are looking to rob you of your life. You ascend the arcade, with the challenge getting harder on each floor, until you reach the pirate ship summit and are introduced to the horrible ninja enemies. The next section features some weak enemies before a Jack and two Electra clones block your path. Finally, you move through an alien cave, having to battle stronger clones of the weak enemies, a strange sub-boss before facing the clawed boss Zamza. While not as difficult as he first appears, Zamza is made considerably tougher if you haven't dispatched the two chuffing ninjas who appear shortly after the sub-boss.
The rest of the game on mania mode is mainly a lesson in death. If you are taking part in the Twenty-Fifth Mega Drive Championship and are reading this section, then I truly commend your unfounded optimism. Stage 4 takes place around a baseball park (reminiscent of Disney Land) and features a tougher selection of the enemies found in previous levels, as well as introducing Big Ben and Big Go who, in spite of their considerable girth, can be effectively thrown. Following a tight fight in a lift, you go man-o-mano with the boss. This is a fight to the death (yours) against an almost impregnable wrestler opponent. His attacks are brutal, any sustained move results in him providing a health sapping counter attack, he is nigh impossible to grab and lives will fall away like a dandelion head in a gale. Nobody will get beyond this boss, but, then again, nobody will have reached this boss so the comment is entirely irrelevant. Stage 5 takes place on a ship and in the depths of it an array of kickboxing thugs will beat the life out of you. Surviving to the deck means a fight with a Jet clone, bomb hurling "Tornados" and finally a fight with R.Bear. Stage 6 takes the fight onto a beach and jungle before the factory level in Stage 7 and a duel against robots Molecule and Particle, plus the mania additions of Isotope and Uranium. The game concludes on Stage 8 with the necessity of fighting an array of bosses from earlier in the game, before taking on Mr X's bodyguard Shiva, before one final fight with Mr X himself.
STREETS OF RAGE 2 SURVIVAL TIPS
• Using the A-button special moves costs health and health is a premium on mania, use it sparingly.
• Grab the apples and chickens quickly; you may not get a second chance to restore your health.
• For the love of Christ don't chose Skate.
• The biggest threat to your health is getting "juggled" by enemies in front and behind, pressing the A button takes a far smaller toll.
• You can land after a throw by pressing Up and C together. Enemies that can throw are signals, ninjas and numerous bosses.
• Forward, forward, B attacks are your friends, especially if you've chosen Axel.
• There is a hidden 1-Up at the very beginning of Stage 1 we advise collecting it.