Streets of Rage 4 brings all the fun of the original trilogy back to life in a shiny new package, complete with enhanced graphics, online and offline co-op, and revamped gameplay. Beat ‘em up fans should feel right at home with Streets of Rage 4, and fans of the originals will find it even more familiar, but the game does have some new tricks up its sleeve. The controls for Streets of Rage 4 are simple, and the game has a handy move list cheat sheet built into the pause menu, but some advanced tricks take a little more practice.
The basic attack (X on the Xbox One controller) in Streets of Rage 4 is a quick jab that can be chained into a combo of four to five hits, depending on which character you’re playing. Landing the final hit in a combo will add a special knockdown effect to any enemies you hit, either sending them flying or knocking them straight to the floor. You can catch several enemies in the range of your basic attack, and additional enemies will be hit if they wander into your path after you’ve already started the combo. Most enemies will be stunned as soon as you start attacking, but watch out for combo-breakers coming from other foes.
Holding down the basic attack button will charge up your attack for a more powerful swing. It takes just a moment to charge, and you’ll know it’s done when you see your character flash briefly. The charge attack has its own unique animation and adds a little more range to your swing, plus it moves you forward a little bit with most characters.
Along with your basic attack, you get a back attack that’s more or less the same, but hits enemies behind you. You can execute it by pressing back and basic attack at the same time, but it’s generally more reliable to use R2 on PS4 or the equivalent right shoulder button on your console. This attack is quick, usually letting you interrupt an attack that you wouldn’t have had time to dodge, and some characters’ back attack even trips enemies.
You can jump (X) then attack to close the distance on enemies more safely, but the jump button has another use as well. When you’re hit with a particularly strong attack, your character will go flying into the air and land prone on the ground. If you hit jump the moment you hit the ground, you can quickly get back on your feet, which can help keep enemies from surrounding you and attacking as soon as you stand up.
Hitting the special attack button (Y) will unleash a different attack depending on whether you’re standing still, jumping, or moving forward. As a tutorial message explains, using a special attack will drain some of your health, but you’ll get a chance to earn it back. A portion of your health bar will turn green after you use a special attack, and you can regain that health by landing additional attacks before you’re hit. Once you get the hang of it, this lets you use special attacks a lot more often without suffering a lasting penalty.
It’s also important to keep in mind that special attacks can knock most enemies out of their attacks (excluding bosses and special enemy attacks). The “defense” special attack that you unleash from a standing position has the extra advantage of making you invulnerable during its animation. Since most characters don’t have a great way of dodging attacks, you can use your defense special attack to block most types of damage, then gain back the health it cost to use it by continuing to attack.
As mentioned above, most characters can’t dodge in Streets of Rage 4, but there is an exception. You’ll unlock Adam Hunter, one of the original game’s stars, after playing through the game’s first few levels. Double-tapping front or back will make Adam dodge a short distance in either direction. It doesn’t move very far, and you can still get caught by attacks while using it, but once you master the dodge, it will make surviving and launching surprise attacks much easier. Similarly, double-tapping a directional button as Cherry will let her run, a skill that no other character in the game has.
Double-tapping a direction, then the basic attack button with any character will unleash a blitz attack that’s halfway between a basic and special attack. It’s not quite as powerful as a special attack, but it does have great knockdown power and adds a bit of range to your attack. How much it adds depends on your character, with Cherry getting a huge mobility boost, Floyd getting just a little extra reach, and everyone else falling somewhere in between.
Speaking of Floyd, he gets a special effect to his grappling attacks that no one else does. Any character can grapple an enemy by simply walking into them, letting you throw them, or get a few free hits in. Playing as Floyd, though, you’ll get to move freely while holding an enemy, while everyone else gets pinned in place. It’s not always the most useful move, but it’s great if the stage you’re on has obstacles that you can throw enemies into or a ledge that you can heave them off.
You can pick up items (B) and either attack with them or throw them at enemies. Pay special attention to items that don’t break after they’re thrown, which includes most weapons, like bats and swords. Streets of Rage 4 explains that you can grab weapons out of the air, but you might not realize that this includes weapons that just bounced off an enemy. If you’re close enough, you can repeatedly throw weapons at enemies, catch them, and throw them again to keep the bad guys stuck in their falling animation.