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3D Streets of Rage 2 is a return to classic brawler action

Jul 22 // Alessandro Fillari
Released back in 1992, Streets of Rage 2, called Bare Knuckle II in Japan, was an immediate hit with Genesis owners and still stands as a favorite among beat-'em-up fans to this day. Set a year after the events of the first game, our street-fighting brawlers have to take back control after the sprawling criminal empire the Syndicate kidnapps one of their allies and plunges the city into chaos. Teaming up with pro-wrestler Max, and a young rollerblading brawler names Skate (the brother of SoR1's Adam), Axel and Blaze have to scour the city while scrapping with vicious thugs that work for the ever-elusive Mr. X. I spent many hours with Streets of Rage 2 when I was a kid, and the flashy neon lights and bombastic atmosphere -- along with Yuzo Koshiro's bumping synth score -- are imprinted in my memories of those glorious Genesis days. Surprisingly, there's a strong focus on plot in these titles. While most beat-'em-ups settle for the save X from Y plot and call it a day, SoR goes a bit beyond that by wrangling in government conspiracy and even throwing in some crazy sci-fi angles. Though the narrative is pretty much on par with B-level action movies, it still goes a long way with setting the tone and atmosphere. While there was another follow up with SoR3, the second game is my favorite and holds up remarkably well. Fortunately for us fans, Sega agrees and it's since been ported over to many different platforms, including Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, and even iOS. However, with its upcoming release on the 3DS, this marks the first time you'll be able to play the game in 3D. "Streets of Rage 2 was the most popular of the three games in the series, so we actually had 2 slated as a conversion candidate from the very beginning," stated producer Yosuke Okunari. "However, when we first starting the development on these games, there were technical issues around getting this game into 3D, and it was deemed an impossible task so we gave up on it. If you've spent time playing the game, you've probably noticed that these sorts of side-scrolling beat-'em-ups are extremely well-suited for stereoscopic 3D (we actually call them 'belt action' games in Japanese because it's like being on a conveyor belt). The benefit of being able to visually confirm that you are lined up with your enemy and thus avoiding whiffing is huge." Coming off the original, the sequel featured a number of innovations and upgrades that made it stand apart from its predecessor. Aside from the obvious visual upgrade, which features sharper graphics and more detailed environments and character designs, the combat mechanics were greatly expanded to include new character-specific moves and super attacks. While I'm sure there were many who missed the police backup from the original, the focus on character diversity and growth was what made Streets of Rage 2 a true upgrade. During their work on the original's 3D remaster, the developers overcame the challenges of translating the unique visual style to bring over its sequel. "The graphics in these games were not like modern 3D, so there's a lot of pseudo-3D going on [referring to the diagonal side-scrolling stages], and when you take that and apply real stereoscopic 3D to it, you get conflicting visuals. So at the time, we thought we wouldn't be able to get the game into 3D," explained Okunari. "That said, because we were able to get the first game in the series into 3D, the staff's ability and know-how around 3D conversions saw huge improvements, and we found ways to work around these sorts of conflicting situations, and thus making the project a reality." After several playthroughs with the 3D remaster, I was impressed with the quality of the port. I can assure you that the pictures do not do the game justice. The side-scrolling visuals really pop with the 3D enabled, and many of the animations and action sequences feel more pronounced. The visuals on the 3DS feel sharp and with no slowdown or loss performance, which is great for when things get really hectic. While the game is largely as it was, gameplay feels just as precise as it was back in its heyday on the Genesis. It's a true testament to the design of the game, and it feels right at home on the handheld. As with the other 3D Classic releases, Sega has decided to do fans one better with the addition of new gameplay modes. In 3D SoR2, players can now experience the new mode called Rage Relay, which gets people playing as other characters during their run. Upon death, your starting character will switch over to the next one from the roster. For instance, if you start out playing with Axel and you get taken during a tough encounter, then you'll switch over to Max upon respawn. Initially, I found it to be a pretty odd gimmick, but I'll admit it came in handy during tough bosses or enemies which called for a bit more brute force. The developers included this optional mode as a way to encourage trying out the other characters after noticing how often players would stick with their favorites. "The original development team that worked on SoR2 was heavily influenced by Street Fighter II when making this game, so rather than a normal beat-'em-up, they really wanted each character to have their own feel, so each character has a very unique play style associated with them," said the producer. "However, unlike competitive fighting games, people tend to only play with the character the choose first for beat-'em-ups, and we didn't think most people strayed from that initial choice. There's four characters here, each with their own play style, so we wanted to make sure every character got a shot and make it interesting by giving players a chance to try characters they didn't really used back in the Genesis era. Our answer to this was Rage Relay." To say I had a great time with 3D SoR2 would be an understatement. I was pretty damn happy with how this remaster turned out. Not only do the new features help liven up the experience, the core gameplay still shows that simple beat-stuff-up action can be a ton of fun. And with local play available, you'll be able to team up with friends to take down Mr. X. With its release approaching, I can tell that many fans of Streets of Rage 2 will feel right at home with the 3D remaster. Not only has this title held up well, but it makes some impeccable use of the 3DS hardware. Once you fire up the game, and Koshiro's synth score reverberates through the opening title crawl, you'll be hooked. It's a total blast from the past, and it'll get your adrenaline pumping in no time.
Sega 3D Classics photo
Taking back the streets on July 23
Growing up, one of my favorite genres was the side-scrolling beat-'em-up. From Final Fight to Double Dragon, I was quite fond of the action found in traveling through different stages and kicking the asses of gang members and...

Sega  photo
Sega

Sega knows it 'betrayed' fans, admits Atlus taught it how to be better


'We'd like to win back trust'
Jul 22
// Chris Carter
[Update: Sega provided the following statement to Destructoid today, July 22: "Seeing our fans across the world respond to our recent interview with Famitsu, lets us know we've made the right first step in acknowledging...
Fan remake photo
Fan remake

Could Shenmue 3 end up looking something like this?


Fan remake: Original Shenmue in Unreal 4
Jul 21
// Steven Hansen
Korean modder Kid Nocon began his unofficial HD remake of the original Shenmue last year, before any of us knew that Shenmue 3 would burst onto the scene and become the most funded video game Kickstarter yet.  Nocon's o...
Sega's boner photo
Sega's boner

Pricing error PSA: Don't buy Tembo on PS4 yet


Sega's boner in North America
Jul 21
// Steven Hansen
Sega -- or someone -- made a boner (that is, a mistake) with the listed price for Tembo the Badass Elephant on PlayStation Network. The $15 game is currently listed at $40. This will differ with your territory, mind. When I l...

Review: Tembo the Badass Elephant

Jul 20 // Chris Carter
Tembo the Badass Elephant (PC, PS4 [reviewed], Xbox One)Developer: Game FreakPublisher: SegaReleased: July 21, 2015MSRP: $14.99 Tembo has a rather short little setup, and from there, doesn't really give you any further exposition until the very end. What you see is what you get in essence, which is a Rambo-inspired elephant laying waste to an enemy dictator, who controls the Phantom Force army. It sports a charming little visual style that reminds me of Regular Show and a few other Cartoon Network properties. It even has effects like a literal "BADA BADA" phrase appearing while dashing about, and despite the low key setup it's a very bright and loud game, mostly in an endearing way. The basic gist is that you'll be able to jump, dash, and float in the air momentarily like Yoshi, with the added ability to shoot water from your trunk. More advanced moves involve uppercuts, slides, butt stomps, and a cannonball dive spin with a bounce. As you progress you'll start to learn more nuances, almost like you're fitting Tembo through various keyholes with your moveset. There are no real explicit puzzles, but it sure feels puzzle-esque if you're going for flawless runs. For instance, select levels can be completed without losing any momentum whatsoever, and it's a blast to dash, dive-kick, and slide your way through the entire thing. There's even a modified charge that you can utilize by holding down the water button, which can put out flames while running. It's pretty much the perfect amount of depth, allowing newcomers to pick up and play Tembo while giving hardcore platforming fans room to experiment a bit. [embed]296063:59600:0[/embed] The level design is fairly open-ended, tasking you with finding hidden civilizations scattered across the map, and killing as many enemies as possible -- both of which have separate goals that are tracked. Mini-bosses and a few full-on Big Bads are peppered into progression, but I would consider it more of a traditional platformer than a real action game -- especially with how muted and easy these encounters are. There's many more instances of timing and running than fighting, which is something you mostly happen to do while jumping around. Game Freak keeps things exciting with hazards, well-placed enemies, and lots of explosions, which will keep you on your toes constantly. Tembo has 17 stages, which last a few hours -- if you play very well, that is. Now, here's where my big holdup is with Tembo -- gating. In order to progress past certain stages, you need to kill a certain amount of enemies. Each stage has a death counter of sorts, which requires you to rescue most of the civilians trapped within a level, as well as actually seek out and defeat most of the enemy forces. It incentivizes actually killing foes, which is neat, but it ultimately ends up causing frustration and forcing players to replay levels over and over. While it is cool that levels do split off into branching paths, several of them have points of no return. If you happen to just choose a particular path, you may be locked out of say, 50 kill points or so -- which can easily be the difference between unlocking new levels and being forced to replay. It's maddening in some cases, and at one point I was held back by six points. Now, I did like returning to some levels to try to "master" them per se, but that should be a player choice -- not something that gates main story progression. Tembo the Badass Elephant is a really enjoyable game at its core, but it can get tiring to replay the same stage five times over just to grind out a few kills to see the next set of levels. It's an odd design choice for sure, but most of you will probably enjoy dashing through unsuspecting Phantom Soldiers and butt stomping them into oblivion regardless. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Badass Elephant review photo
They drew first blood
When someone told me that the developer of Pokemon was creating an action platformer called Tembo the Badass Elephant, I knew I had to give it a shot. While a few of the design choices are a bit odd, they don't overshadow the sum of its parts.

Shenmue 3 Kickstarter photo
Most funded video game in site's history
The crowdfunding campaign for Shenmue 3 has drawn to a close, raising a total of $6,333,295. That sum makes the project the most funded video game campaign in the history of Kickstarter, beating out the previous record holder...

Total Warhammer photo
Total Warhammer

Creative Assembly has a good video-labeling policy for Total War: Warhammer


Or just watch this grand battle
Jul 17
// Jordan Devore
Alongside this non-gameplay video for Total War: Warhammer, Creative Assembly has explained how it's going to label promotional materials for the strategy game going forward. I was happy to see the studio talk about this stuf...
Shenmue 3 photo
Shenmue 3

Shenmue 3 just surpassed the all-time video game Kickstarter record


Both voice actors confirmed
Jul 17
// Chris Carter
In case you hadn't heard, Corey Marshall, the English voice actor for Shenmue's Ryo Hazuki, is returning to voice the character in Shenmue 3. As of this week, Masaya Matsukaze has been confirmed as well, meaning both the orig...
Fun with engines photo
Fun with engines

Sonic looks angry to be in Unreal 4


Fun with engines
Jul 16
// Steven Hansen
Mario, icon that he is, was a brief stand out in various Unreal 4 tech demos. The baser instincts turn inward still: now it is Sonic's turn at an ill-fitting appearance among high fidelity grass blades and grazing herds.  He runs fast, jumps listlessly, and has a permanent scowl. For the record, Sega, since you are rudderless: no, don't do this.
3DS photo
3DS

3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2's trailer confirms Tails co-op support


Two copies of the game
Jul 15
// Chris Carter
Sega has released a trailer for 3D Sonic the Hedgehog 2 on the Japanese eShop (which is posted above, courtesy of NintenDaan), and it evidently confirms two-player co-op in the shop listing and at the end of the video itself...
Seaman 3DS photo
Seaman 3DS

Yoot Saito on Iwata, canned Seaman 3DS game


Canned fish
Jul 15
// Steven Hansen
We've covered Seaman frequently throughout the years on Destructoid with overflowing hearts. And it's under tragic circumstances that we get confirmation: Seaman 3DS was a planned project that fell through. Original Seaman developer Yoot Saito wrote a blog post, translated over at Neogaf, reflecting on his relationship with the late Satoru Iwata.
Sonic photo
Sonic

Official Sonic the Hedgehog YouTube videos get weird


Sonic has some strange new PR
Jul 15
// Laura Kate Dale
I really can't decide if the person running all of the social media accounts for Sonic the Hedgehog is a calculated PR mastermind using bizarre and weird internet culture to perfection, an out of touch business man who thinks...
Phantasy Star Online photo
Phantasy Star Online

You got BlazBlue in my Phantasy Star Online


The newest crossover
Jul 14
// Chris Carter
Every time I write about Phantasy Star Online 2, my heart aches a little. It's nice that there's an english language patch out there, but so many fans don't want to play the game without a proper localization, so I'm stuck w...
Phantasy Star Online photo
Phantasy Star Online

Phantasy Star Online is getting an anime series


Based off the second core game
Jul 13
// Chris Carter
Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation is now in production. It will feature an all-new original story on Earth, and it will be a part of an eight-point initiative to celebrate Phantasy Star Online's 15-year anniversary. Hey you know what would be really cool, Sega? A real Phantasy Star Online 2 localization. Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation [Sega via idigitaltimes]
Tembo the Badass Elephant photo
Tembo the Badass Elephant

Game Freak's Tembo the Badass Elephant drops on July 21


Draws first blood on PC, PS4, Xbox One
Jul 10
// Jordan Devore
I've covered Tembo the Badass Elephant only once -- back when it was unveiled in March -- and the side-scrolling action game is nearly ready for us with a July 21 launch on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. Nice to not drown in promotio...
Streets of Rage photo
Streets of Rage

3D Streets of Rage hits the...3DS in two weeks


I'm in
Jul 10
// Chris Carter
Streets of Rage is one of those games that doesn't get old for me, and I sure as hell wouldn't mind buying it again in 3D for $5.99. While it was originally slated for a July 16 release, Sega has announced that it will be pus...
Stella Glow photo
Stella Glow

Stella Glow coming to Europe spring 2016


Better late than never
Jul 10
// Kyle MacGregor
Stella Glow is coming to Europe next spring, NIS America has announced. The strategy role-playing game is the last effort from Japanese studio Imageepoch, which closed its doors back in May after filing for bankruptcy. Sega r...
Pitchford interview photo
Pitchford interview

Pitchford: Fans wrong to sue Gearbox over Aliens: Colonial Marines


Also talks why the game failed
Jul 10
// Brett Makedonski
Gearbox Software's 2013 Aliens: Colonial Marines is possibly the best recent example of a game gone completely awry. The reception was almost universally negative from fans and critics alike. The pre-release footage was ...
Company of Heroes 2 photo
Company of Heroes 2

Company of Heroes 2 is getting a 'British Forces' pack


$12.99
Jul 09
// Chris Carter
Company of Heroes 2 is a quasi-old game at this point, but Sega isn't done with it quite yet. On September 3, it will be getting a "British Forces pack," which will be sold for $12.99. It includes 15 new units, six comma...
Shenmue 3 photo
Shenmue 3

Uncharted 4 concept artist creates Shenmue print


Buy a print before July 17 to support the Kickstarter appeal
Jul 09
// Vikki Blake
Uncharted 4 and The Last of Us concept artist, John Sweeney, has produced an exclusive print to support the Shenmue 3 Kickstarter.  There are eight large prints (24H x 47W) and 100 smaller prints (16H x 31...
Sega not dead photo
Sega not dead

Sega pledges 'quality,' console game announcement at TGS


Not just mobile and browser games!
Jul 07
// Steven Hansen
Sega bowed out of E3 completely this year as the company continued to wind down relevancy as a developer and publisher of moderate to big budget video games. But wait! Earlier this morning, we reported on Sega boss Hajime Sat...
Dawn of War 3 photo
Dawn of War 3

Sega registers DawnOfWar3.com


Surely it'd be Mid-morning of War by now
Jul 06
// Joe Parlock
It’s funny how many little ways a publisher can screw up and leak (or “leak” if you're a cynic) its upcoming games in 2015. A misworded interview here, a guy walking in and stealing your lunch there, and of ...
Project X Zone 2 photo
Project X Zone 2

Bandai Namco delays Project X Zone 2 until 2016


Have a new trailer to pass the time
Jul 02
// Kyle MacGregor
Project X Zone 2 has been pushed back to early 2016. The upcoming tactical role-playing game, which features a myriad of iconic characters from Bandai Namco, Capcom, and Sega, was previously announced for an autumn release i...
Sonic Boom photo
Sonic Boom

Fire & Ice isn't the only Sonic Boom game on the horizon


Sonic Dash 2 is already on Google Play
Jul 01
// Chris Carter
You want more Sonic Boom? No? Well too bad! It looks like you're getting a new 3DS game sometime in the near future, and Sonic Dash 2: Sonic Boom has just been released on Google Play. It features the newly-wrapped cast ...
Free Steam weekend photo
Free Steam weekend

A bunch of Total War games are free to play this weekend


Have a favorite?
Jun 25
// Jordan Devore
My goodness, Creative Assembly's tactical Total War series has been around for 15 years now. There's a sale for the occasion, naturally, but it goes further than that: Shogun: Total War and Medieval: Total War have landed on ...
Sega PS3/Vita sale photo
Sega PS3/Vita sale

Celebrate Sonic's birthday with cheap Sega games on PSN


Look away, Knuckles!
Jun 23
// Jordan Devore
Oh shoot, it's Sonic's birthday today! He's 24 years old. I find that unsettling for some reason. Anyway, Sega is holding a celebratory sale on PlayStation Network. Besides Sonic games, this is an inexpensive way to score Yak...

Total War: Warhammer changes the game of war

Jun 18 // Alessandro Fillari
Moving away from the historical settings of Rome and Attila, the Warhammer lore opens things up considerably for some intense and incredibly over the top action. Set in the high-fantasy universe, players will be able to choose one of four factions (Empire, Greenskins, Dwarves, and Vampyre) and build their nations, either through diplomacy, economics, or the raw might of their military forces. When things come to blows, each faction possesses its own unique style of combat and tactics that the opposing armies will have to deal with.The combat mechanics during battles have been greatly expanded. Units can utilize more moves and abilities from close range attacks to long-range tactics through magic or muskets. Along with the Hero characters, which can be leveled up and imbued with new skills to boost their units, players will be able to summon monsters and other creations to help their armies in a pinch. During one battle between the Empire and Greenskins, one of summoned a massive spider known as Arcanarok, which spawned mini-spiders that mowed down enemy units. I was very impressed with the sense of scale and the pace. I'm interested in seeing more of what the units can do once developed further.Rest assured, the nation-building gameplay from past titles is still present in Warhammer. But naturally, how each of the factions will go about expanding its civilization will vary. As each faction possesses its own unique culture, traditional diplomacy and negotiation may not be as effective as the swing of an ax, and some factions will be more focused on engagements than others. For the Empire, it'll have the traditional and more civilized routes for expansion with politics, trade, and economics as its biggest tools. But when it comes to showing off military might, the Empire will utilize its siege cannons and Demi-grifs to lay waste to invaders.For the Greenskins (Orcs), players will have to use brute force and cunning to expand their own empire. As Orcs don't really have much interest for diplomacy and the political aspects of nation-building, they choose the more direct approach to get what they want. While they possess the standard warrior and shaman classes, the latter who can utilize spells to summon giant constructs to stomp their foes, they also make use of kamikaze goblins that use leather wings to fly into enemy units. Launching catapults, they can be manually aimed while in flight for precision targeting.While the title is in pre-alpha, and the build we saw was hands-off, I was incredibly impressed with what I saw. The new visual aesthetic and a rich setting offers so much potential for what the Total War series can do within the fantasy genre. As you can spend countless hours with just one faction, building them up and taking down opposing forces, I'm very interested in seeing how much lore they can fit into this title. Though Creative Assembly was very hesitant to share any details about the Dwarf and Vampyre factions, it was very clear in stating that all of the factions will be very developed and possess their own unique cultures that will alter how they function on the world stage.It's still a ways off, but the folks at Creative Assembly are on track with developing something unique. Obviously, it's quite a departure for what the series has done before, but it's still very much a Total War title through and through.
Total War: Warhammer photo
Creative Assembly changes the scenery
The Total War series is known for its focus on intense real-time combat and simulation-based nation-building gameplay. As one of the more historical games, the series has garnered a lot of respect from fans and many critics a...

ATLUS photo
ATLUS

Stella Glow launches on 3DS this holiday season


Complete with that $49.99 'Atlus tax'
Jun 15
// Kyle MacGregor
Stella Glow is coming to North America this holiday season, Atlus USA just announced. The upcoming RPG is likely to be the swan song project for Luminous Arc developer Imageepoch, whose recent bankruptcy filing isn't expected to impact the title's release. Atlus is exhibiting Stella Glow at E3 this week, so expect some impressions out of us soon.
Yu Suzuki photo
Yu Suzuki

Is Yu Suzuki teasing something Shenmue related at E3?


Don't play games with my heart
Jun 14
// Chris Carter
As I've told people many times before, Shenmue II was a near-religious experience for me. I remember nearly every minute I spent with it at launch on the original Xbox, and it came at a perfect time in my life when I rea...
Sega photo
Sega

Sega: 'We weren't too happy' about the Wii U version of Sonic Boom


3DS is the flagship now
Jun 11
// Chris Carter
Collectively, the Sonic Boom series was the worst selling Sonic subfranchise in history. It only managed to scrape together under 500,000 copies for both the Wii U and 3DS platforms. Big Red Button, who handled the ...

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