Video Game / Streets of Rage

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They're gonna @#$^ you up...
This city was once a happy, peaceful place... until one day, a powerful secret criminal organization took over. This vicious syndicate soon had control of the government and even the police force. The city has become the center of violence and crime where no one is safe.

Amid this turmoil, a group of determined young police officers has sworn to clean up the city. Among them are Adam Hunter, Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding. They are willing to risk anything... even their lives... on the...

Streets of Rage

Known as Bare Knuckle in Japan, Streets of Rage is a series of scrolling beat 'em ups made by Sega for the Sega Genesis. The games tell the story of three ex-cops and their friends teaming up to take down the crime boss Mr. X and free their city from the massive amount of gang violence. The series includes the following:

  • Streets of Rage, released in 1991. Allows you to play as Adam, a boxer, Axel, a martial artist, and Blaze, a judo expert. There was very little difference between the three characters beyond aesthetics, with special attacks being player specific rather than character specific. Also, Adam is only playable in this game.
  • Streets of Rage 2, released in 1992. Two new characters were added: Skate, Adam's younger brother, and Max, a wrestler who was friends with Axel. The game had bigger sprites, and the characters' movesets and differences were expanded.
  • Streets of Rage 3, which was released in 1994, is the final game in the series. Axel, Blaze, and Skate are joined by Dr. Zan, a cyborg with electrical powers. Two boss characters are also secret playable characters.

Since the original Streets of Rage was released shortly after the Super NES port of Final Fight, the two titles were seen as dueling games during the 16-bit era, as Capcom would later produce two straight-to-SNES sequels to Final Fight around the same time Sega released their own Streets of Rage sequels for the Genesis (although the Sega CD eventually got its own port of Final Fight as well).

There have been rumors of a fourth installment for years, with Sega of Japan creating a demo of a Streets of Rage 4 running on Dreamcast hardware. But since Sega of America was not aware of the series and its past success, the project was not followed up on. The Eidos brawler Fighting Force was also pitched to Sega execs as Streets of Rage 4, but because of the aforementioned lack of faith in the brand it was passed up, becoming the later independent title. A reboot by Ruffian Games was also cancelled in 2012. It's not completely forgotten, however, as Axel eventually makes appearance in Project X Zone 2 representing the series.

If you want to try out the series for yourself, these options are available: for home consoles, the entire series can be downloaded individually to the Nintendo Wii via the Wii's Virtual Console; for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, you can purchase Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection containing all three games in the series. The second game is also available on PlayStation Network while Xbox Live Arcade have Sega Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage, which is also bundled with all three games plus some added features such the ability to play the Japanese and European versions of these games. For Windows PC users, the entire series can be purchased on Steam individually or the SEGA Genesis Classics Packs (Pack 4 has Streets of Rage and Streets of Rage 2 while Pack 5 has Streets of Rage 3). The first Streets of Rage is also available on the iOS App Store for those with an Apple mobile device. Finally, stereoscopic 3D versions of Streets of Rage and Streets of Rage 2 are available for the Nintendo 3DS from the Nintendo eShop.

In 2011, Spanish fan developer group Bomber Games released a fan remake called Streets of Rage Remake.


The series exhibits the following tropes:

  • 1-Up: Rarely found in some stages, with a different appearance across the series. The first game's 1-up is an icon of the heroes grouped together, a simple 1-up icon in the second game, and icon of Adam in the third game.
  • Action Girl: Blaze Fielding.
  • Actually a Doombot: The "Mr. X" you fight in stage 5 of the third game. In a way, the "Axel" you fight in stage 3 as well, though he's more like a Robot Me Evil Twin.
  • A.I. Breaker: In the original game when fighting Mona and Lisa, they may seem very difficult at first unless you know their one weakness: back attacks. By having your back towards them and remaining still, the sisters would approach you and you could do a back attack to knock them down and repeat until both are defeated. They will hardly deviate from this approach if both sisters are alive, but if one is left standing, she will always walk to you as long as you don't move. This makes fighting the twins incredibly easy in both of their appearances.
    • Unfortunately not practical on Hardest because it is all too easy to run out of time.
  • Axel Stone Is About To Punch You: The opening sequence of Bare Knuckle III.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Blaze, at least in her depiction on the Japanese cover art of 2 and the American cover art of 3. Stage 2 of the first game also features several posters showing what appears to be a female bodybuilder, although it's unclear if she plays the trope straight or is instead a Brawn Hilda.
  • American Kirby Is Hardcore:
    • While the Japanese covers are no less hardcore, though in more "Heroes about to punch you" style, the Western covers are more action packed.
    • The time-out ending in Streets of Rage 3. In the Japanese version, even though an entire city gets nuked, the citizens forgive the heroes (after all, the heroes tried) and feel that this incident will be forgotten with time. Contrast with the American version, where despite the lower death toll, the citizens' trust in the heroes is heavily damaged.
  • Amusement Park: Stage 3 in the second game.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Shiva and the martial artist enemies.
  • Athletic Arena Level: Stage 4 in the second game goes into a baseball stadium. Which has a secret lift that goes underground!
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: In the first two games, Mr. X, the president of the underground crime syndicate, is also the Final Boss.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Axel Stone, Adam Hunter, Blaze Fielding, Sammy "Skate" Hunter, Max Thunder/Hatchett and Dr. Zan.
  • Badass Driver: Your back up in the original game, who is skilled enough to follow you into a factory and onto a boat. That he and his improbably skilled bazooka wielding wingman can't help you in the final stage is a good sign of how difficult it is.
  • Badass in Distress: Adam in Streets of Rage 2. To explain this, aside of delivering two Big Damn Heroes in 3, in the Good Ending path, it is implied that Adam went through the bad end route while you deal with the main threat, and single-handedly take down the syndicate covering the City Hall/White House and the 'phony General/Police Chief' (which, by the way, is Shiva). This is more shown in the Japanese version where he explicitly said about the fake general/chief already being apprehended.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Mr. X (all games) and his Men in Black in SOR3.
  • Badass Mustache: Dr. Zan.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: You trash the clientelle in one during the second game's first stage.
  • Balance, Power, Skill, Gimmick: In Streets of Rage 2, Axel is the regular street brawler, Max the hulking wrestler, Skate the fast kid using spinning techniques, while Blaze has catfighty moves with high range and a better knife swing. In Streets of Rage 3, Max is replaced with Zan, a cyborg with electrical powers who's playstyle revolves mainly around crowd control, essentially taking the "gimmick" role.
  • Balance, Speed, Strength Trio: In the series, Axel and Blaze stay in all games as the balance and speed respectively, having the character of strength variable between games (Adam in 1, Max in 2 and Dr. Zan in 3), with the addition of Eddie in the last 2 games as a middle point between balance and speed.
  • Bald of Awesome: Zan again.
  • Bar Brawl: Barbon's bar in Stage 1 of the second game.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Blaze in the second and third installments.
  • Batter Up!: The baseball bats can be used as weapons.
  • Battle Boomerang: SOR1 Stage 1 Boss Antonio's Weapon of Choice.
  • Battle in the Rain:
    • Stage 3 in Streets of Rage, it occasionally rains on the beach.
    • Against the bartender in Streets of Rage 2's first level.
  • Battle Strip: Barton (first boss of the second game) starts the fight by ripping out of his shirt.
  • Beach Level: Stage 3 in 1, Stage 6 in 2. The second example becomes Jungle Japes pretty quickly though.
  • The Beastmaster: Danch/Bruce in Streets of Rage 3, albeit of the abusive ring leader variety. Defeating him before defeating his Boxing Kangaroo Victy/Roo causes the grateful animal to flee immediately and unlocks it as a playable character.
  • Beauty Mark: Blaze's character select portrait in all three games depict her sporting one on the lower left side of her face.
  • Big Bad: Mr. X, a syndicate crime boss who's responsible for corrupting the city by controlling the police force and the government, followed by the rampant crime and gang violence.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Adam does this twice in the third game. He first does it in Stage 6 by finishing off the remainder of Jet's goons after he is defeated and then getting the Chief of Police/General Ivan Petrov to his speech to clear Axel's name. He does it again in the seventh and final stage after Mr. X's robot body is defeated by rescuing the heroes before the villain's lair explodes.
  • Black Best Friend: Adam to Axel and Blaze.
  • Black and White Morality: The series is pretty clear-cut with regard to the morality of the heroes and villains.
  • Blackout Basement: The Disco in 3.
  • Boss Remix: The boss theme in the first game ("Attack of The Barbarian") is remixed for Mr. X ("Return of Mr. X").
  • Boss Rush: Stage 8 of 1 and 2.
  • Bottomless Magazines: The Men in Black enemies and Mr. X never run out of ammunition.
  • Bottomless Pits: Appearing in the first game for levels 4 (holes in the bridge) and 7 (getting thrown off a moving freight elevator). Falling into one would cost you a life. Oddly, the bottomless pits never appeared in game 2, but return in game 3 for the construction levels where falling into one had your character jump back up at the expense of losing at least 1/4 of your health bar.
  • Bowdlerise: The storyline of Bare Knuckle 3 involved a convoluted plot of a powerful thermonuclear material called "Raksin/Laxine," fear of nuclear war between America and the fictional country of Lima, and the disappearance of a respected General Ivan Petrov, who has been replaced by a robot duplicate designed by Mr. X to instigate said war. Streets of Rage 3's storyline changes the game slightly to remove the intro featuring Wood Oak City being nuked by a Raksin/Laxine bomb, changed the General to the Chief of Police, and removed the fear of war storyline in favor of more general lawlessness and disorder in the city, as well as many dialogue changes, resulting in some dialogue making little to no sense. In addition, the dominatrices wore jackets, Blaze, Axel, and Skate swapped colors so Blaze wouldn't wear red, and Macho Camp Ash was Dummied Out (he still existed in the game's code, but you had to use a game enhancer to use him). Oh, and they did a pretty piss-poor job of disguising the White House as a generic City Hall. Also, the Bad Ending to stage 6 isn't as subtle in the Japanese version.
    • Strangely inverted for the bad ending caused by timing out the Final Boss: In the Japanese version, even though the bombs were set off and caused catastrophic damage, the citizens at least are glad the conflict are over and forgive the heroes, and it is noted that in time, the damage can simply be repaired and the failure forgotten. In the overseas versions, the damage is on a smaller scale, but the citizens are extremely angry at the heroes for failing and it's noted that it will take a long time for the citizens' trust in the police to be restored.
  • Boxing Kangaroo: Victy/Roo in Streets of Rage 3.
  • Brain in a Jar: How Mr. X made it to the ending of the third game.
  • Breakable Weapons: In 3. The first use of the Bottle in 1 shatters it, as well, but it remains useable.
  • Bullfight Boss: The Stage 3 boss in the first game, whom you have to re-fight twice over the course of the game. On later games, the Jets.
  • Camp Gay: Ash, a hairy guy with a Porn Stache wearing part of a cop outfit and stockings.
  • Cast from Hit Points:
    • Starting with the second game, a special attack replaces your police backup. Using it drains your health, but gives you invincibility during its duration and either is typically stronger than most attacks on the character's moveset, or has increased range. Streets of Rage 3 also features a special bar that charged slowly between special attacks and depleted with its use. How full the bar is determines how much health the special attack drains; if the bar is full, no health is drained.
    • Averted in the Game Gear version of Streets of Rage 2, where the attacks don't drain health, making Axel's blitz attack even more of a game breaker.
  • Character Roster Global Warming: The series has had only one slow guy, Max, who was promptly replaced in the third game.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: See the trope above.
  • Combat Stilettos: A must for the attire of most female enemies.
  • Combination Attack: The bodyblow vault technique in 1. Mona and Lisa in 3 have a ground wave ki attack that is more powerful when they use it together.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: In Sonic the Comic. Very dark in tone for a children's comic and written by a certain Mark Millar.
  • Compilation Re-release: The series has been included in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 along with tons of other Sega Genesis titles, and Sega Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage on Xbox LIVE Arcade.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Openly demonstrated in 3. Of course, they still can kill you (considering they are more maneuverable than the other mooks around here), but not only they can be easily turned off by the players themselves, they sometimes don't dodge the wagon that passes by and by every 13 seconds, which makes them an even easier target.
  • Corridor Cubbyhole Run: The mine-train sequence in 3.
  • Cyborg: Dr. Zan is the most obvious example, but a close look at SOR2 "Electra" type enemies reveals that they have prosthetic whip-hands.
  • Covers Always Lie: Most of the stuff pictured on the overseas packaging illustration of the first game doesn't appear in the game, not to mention Axel's yellow shirt and Blaze's white gym clothes note . The Streets of Rage 2 cover art westernizes the characters, most notably turning Max into a clone of The Rock.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: The Syndicate own several commercial fronts, including a waterfront storage, a bar, a nightclub and a construction site.
  • Cue the Sun: Subverted in the first game; night falls as you attack Mr. X's stronghold and the sun is rising as you challenge the man himself. The final shot (after the credits roll) is that of the heroes watching the sunset and then a starry sky beneath a bridge by their city's bay.
    • Played straight in the second game. The last shot of the ending shows the heroes waving to a rescue chopper as the sun rises.
  • Cute Kitten: One pops out of the trash cans in the last section of SOR3's first stage.
  • Damage Discrimination: With the exception of Antonio's boomerang, any kind of thrown weapons usually deals damage to both sides. And then Mr. X with his Tommy Gun, moving down everything that moves, including his own minions.
  • Darker and Edgier: Aside of having heavier soundtrack and grittier graphics, SOR3 is also more serious story-wise. It is also the only game in the series with a secondary character (Police Chief) dying on-screen (as opposed to disappearing bodies), and one of the darkest of possible endings in the series.
  • Dead All Along: In a way. See Brain in a Jar above.
  • Degraded Boss: A few bosses throughout the first two games appear in the middle of later levels in their respective games, and almost all of them (or all, in the case of the first game) return during the final stage.
  • Demoted to Extra: Adam in the sequels. He still appears in the games, but he's been demoted to a non-player role, although he does become a considerable Deus ex Machina in 3.
  • Descending Ceiling: The machine presses in the industry levels.
  • Developers' Foresight: Reached the final level in SOR1 in single player mode? Player 2 can't join you! The developers knew some people would try to cheat by using player 2 as a backup character if they used all their continues as player 1, therefore they disabled player 2 from joining in.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Mr. X, of course.
  • Die, Chair! Die!: When the fight goes into bars and dance clubs, the lifespan of the furniture tends to be low.
    • The outside sections tend to have the same thing all over the place: tires, trashcans, and road blocks.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Max in the second game has some very awkward grapples (he cannot vault over his opponents, unlike the others). But then again, they deal about an entire bar of damage when done right (one of them is 1.5 bars). A Good Bad Bug allows him to jump on a pile of enemies and break their backs simultaneously.
    • Later games allow you to input specific button combinations to throw 3-star attacks even without said stars. These attacks are vastly powerful, and accessing them requires either accumulating 120,000 points without dying, or using these combinations, which are rather hard to execute quickly.
  • Difficulty by Region: In Streets of Rage 3, the Japanese version's Normal is the North American version's Easy, Japanese Hard is North American Normal, and Japanese Very Hard is North American Hard. Also, in the NA version, enemies inflict more damage on higher difficulties, which does not happen in the Japanese version. On the flip side, performing special attacks in Streets of Rage 3 costs much less energy than in Bare Knuckle, and the sidestep actually works properly. Astute players eventually start thinking of their lifebar as offensive power.
  • Distressed Dude: Adam gets kidnapped in Streets of Rage 2.
    • General Ivan Petrov (or the chief of police) in 3.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: All three original characters in 1 had the same movepool with some minor differences. In the sequels, every character plays differently.
  • Dominatrix: Each game has a female Mook like this, the only common female enemy. The one in the first game is named Nora, and the one in the second and third game and third game is named Elektra.
  • Doppelgänger Attack: Yamato from Streets of Rage 3.
  • The Dragon: Shiva in the second game, and Dr. Dahm (Dr. Zero) in the last one. Shiva returns as the boss of the first level in Streets of Rage 3, is an unlockable playable character via a secret code and if you go for the bad ending in the Town Hall, he re-appears as the final boss.
  • Drought Level of Doom: Each of the Streets of Rage series traditionally has a section - usually during the last level - where the players are trapped in an elevator with a small selection of weapons and power ups and are forced to refight all of the Bosses that they have already fought. They have to do this in quick succession, and at higher difficulty levels the enemies have much more health than the first time you met them and usually turn up with a crowd of mooks too.
  • Dual Boss: Onihime/Mona and Yasha/Lisa in 1 and 3. Not to mention that in the first game, playing with two players would spawn two bosses instead of one.
    • Also present with Stage 6 of the first game, where you face Souther (whom you fought in the second stage). Two of him.
  • Dub Name Change: The enemies in the original Streets of Rage are not named in-game. The Japanese manual has all the mooks and bosses identified, but since the English manual has no such enemy list, the Syndicate goons were essentially left nameless outside Japan. 2 added life gauges for the enemies and the names were kept the same in all versions. However, 3 changed the name of nearly every single enemy and item between regions (i.e. Galsia became Garcia).
  • Dynamic Entry: The enemies that spawn above you and have a jumping attack; one of several reasons why elevator sequences aren't particularly popular.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first Streets of Rage, which was developed in-house by Sega, differs greatly from the sequels (which were outsourced to Ancient). Whereas 2 and 3 play like typical post-Final Fight beat-'em-ups, the combat system in the original Streets of Rage feels much closer to the original Golden Axe. The first game is also the only installment where you can summon a cop for an on-screen nuke attack. This was replaced with a personalized special attack in the later installments. The pepper spray and broken bottle weapons also appeared in the first game only. VS mode, which became the norm in the 2nd and 3rd games, didn't exist in the first game. note 
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: Although this is averted on the harder difficulty settings.
  • Easy-Mode Mockery: In the American version of Streets of Rage 3, playing on Easy mode will only allow you to play the first 5 stages. Oh, and the American version's Easy mode is equivalent to the Japanese version's Normal. Take your pick of suck: everything is too easy and deals next to no damage on the hardest setting of the Japanese version, and unlike the 2nd entry, there is no Mania mode. The adjustments to the American version were to compensate for the improved sidestep and added flexibility for special attacks (insomuch that spamming them becomes a valid tactic).
  • Easier Than Easy: Very Easy in SoR2.
  • Elevator Action Sequence: All games have at least one. Certain elevators in 1 and 3 allow you to throw the enemies out of them.
  • Elite Mook: The further you progress, you start running into palette swaps of the basic mooks you've been busting up. They're stronger, more durable, and tend to show more cleverness in battle.
  • Eternal Engine: Stage 6 in the first game, Stage 7 in the second, and Stage 7A in the third. All feature conveyor belts.
  • Evil Counterpart: Shiva to the main characters in general and Axel in particular. Onihime/Mona and Yasha/Lisa to Blaze. Abadede to Max.
  • Evil Laugh: Some enemies (like Big Ben) laugh at you evilly when they score a hit. This also applies to Adam, Axel and Blaze if they Face–Heel Turn and take Mr X's place.
  • Excuse Plot: The plots for the first two games. 1 boils down to "save the city", whereas 2 is "save the city and Adam".
  • Executive Suite Fight: In the first two games during the final battle against Mr. X. The third game subverts this when the Mr. X you face is a robot.
  • Expy: The final boss uses a projectile weapon like Machine Gun Willy and Belger, Abadede is The Ultimate Warrior, and Zamza is a clone of Blanka (he even has the same spinning attack). Not to forget that Axel is an expy of Cody, or that the Muay Thai-using enemies in SOR2 (the ones with bird names) look exactly like Joe Higashi.
  • Face–Heel Turn: In SoR1's 2-player mode, you can do this, if one player chooses to join Mr. X and the other doesn't. This leads to an "evil" ending. Unless you both do it, in which case you just get boned and have to play through some levels again.
  • Fair Cop: The ¡Three Amigos! in the original game, as well as the squad car carrying your backup enforcer.
  • Fastball Special: Big Bens in SOR3 can pick up Galsias and throw them at you, and Galsias have learned to do elbowdrops in this game. You can do this using your own allies, and can be useful with the throw recovery move.
  • Fat Bastard: Bongo (stage 4 boss) in the first game. Big Ben and his clones in SOR2 and 3. R.Bear and Bear Jr. in 2 also.
  • Fight Clubbing: SOR2. Stage 4. Abadede.
  • Fighting Clown: R.Bear and his palate swaps in 2. He's a bulbously-fat bald guy in an old-fashioned swimsuit, no shoes and a gigantic mustache wearing boxing gloves who appears to be moonwalking, and when the fight starts he launches himself at you with a flying butt-drop. Then he beats the absolute crap out of you because he's got anti-air attacks, insane reach and quickness, an overpowered grapple, and is generally considered the toughest opponent in the game bar Shiva.
  • Fingerless Gloves: All of the heroes except Max, and many of the enemies.
  • Fishing for Mooks: You want to hang back and deal with enemies in small groups if possible. Wading into large melees is a good way to kill off your character.
  • Flunky Boss: Danch/Bruce and the kangaroos. Mr. X, except he keeps mowing them down with his gun when he tries to kill you. Most of the other bosses have mook enforcements too, minus the third game, which only has Jet and his flying crew.
  • Friend on the Force: Since the main trio officially parted ways with the precinct after the syndicate's takeover, the backup enforcer used for Special Attacks becomes this.
  • Gainax Ending: The easy and bad endings of 3, which show Mr. X in his human form breaking a glass of wine, make sense at first (well, you didn't managed to catch up Mr. X in private after all!), but when you get to the end of stage 7 on a harder difficulty setting and when you fail to save the hostage at level six... Fridge Logic ensues.
  • Game Mod: Through emulation and ROM editing.
  • Giant Mook: Bosses tend to be much taller than normal mooks, especially in 1.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Vehelits. While in the middle of an amusement park in Streets of Rage 2 battling thugs, you suddenly fight an attraction that resembles an undead alien dragon. The Syndicate doesn't seem to have any involvement with it at all.
  • Girly Run: Ash has one while sprinting.
  • A Glass of Chianti: The final scene of 3's bad ending is Mr X watching the world's cities blow up with a wine glass in hand.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Max sports a vertical one across his left eye.
  • Graffiti Town: Stage 2 in the first game.
  • Gratuitous English: "Do! Base ball" and "It's like Boo!" on some flyers and banners in the stadium level. Allegedly the latter refers to a miniboss you're about to fight.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: The bottles from 1. The first connected attack is smashing the bottle over something, and all subsequent attacks are stabbing ones with the sharp bits of the now-broken bottle.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Thrown enemies will bowl over anyone in their path. Becomes a good way of using a boss's flunkies against him.
  • Hair Color Dissonance: According the character select screen in the original game, Blaze is raven-haired, although sprites and artwork elsewhere would instead suggest that she's a brunette.
  • Harder Than Hard:
    • "Hardest" mode on the 1st game. What made it really tough was that enemies could take more hits, bosses have more life, and that most of their attacks could kill you in 2-3 hits on a full life bar. The enemies' AI doesn't change much, but they move MUCH faster, so they can sweep in suddenly for those extremely damaging attacks and knock you out, possibly setting off even more enemies...
    • invokedMania in the 2nd game. Normal mooks will keep their distance, hit you as soon as they can, and will always try to flank you (probably successfully), fast enemies will become even faster, and Goddamned Bats will become Demonic Spiders. The number of enemies will increase ridiculously, as will their health, and trying to hit any enemy who happens to have anti-air attacks with a jump attack will get you grounded in no time. Bosses like Abadede and R.Bear will make you cry in anger... if you play as Axel, that is.
    • Hard in Streets of Rage 3, due to Difficulty by Region. Weep as you meet packs of fast enemies with at least two health gauges each and who can block.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: In SOR2 and 3, the ninjas don't do much to conceal themselves. Their colors range from sky-blue to purple. They also seem to have perpetual grins on their faces in SOR3.
  • Hitbox Dissonance: Suffers a bit from this. The most frequent example would be attacks that miss initially, but hit a target who happens to wander in right before the end of the animation when the attack shouldn't have power anyway.
  • Hyperactive Metabolism: Apples, beef, and roast chicken immediately heal you.
  • Hurricane Kick: Skate has an upside-down, full-split, handstand variant as his stationary special move. Roo has a more traditional one.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels:
    • Very Easy (2nd game only)
    • Easy
    • Normal
    • Hard
    • Hardest/Very Hard (Not in the Western version of 3)
    • Mania (2nd game only)
  • Idle Animation: In the first game, Axel brushes his hand against his chin, Adam wriggles his arms and hands to loosen up his limbs, and Blaze flips her hair back (a quirk that remains with her character for the rest of the series).
    • In the third, Axel thumbs his nose, Dr. Zan crackles with electricity, Skate beckons to the enemy, and Ash giggles.
  • Improvised Weapon: Bottles, knives, lead pipes, baseball bats, planks, and pepper shakers.
    • Lethal Joke Item: The pepper shaker stuns all enemies. You can dispatch a large group of enemies by stunning them and then Cherry Tapping with the jab. If you do it slowly enough, so that the main character doesn't launch into a full combo, but so the enemies don't recover from the stun, you can send entire groups keeling backwards.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Your backup in the original game is skilled enough to:
    • Fire at your position without harming you in the slightest.
    • Hit every on screen enemy surrounding you, regardless of how close or far away they are to/from you.
    • Do all of the above even if you are hundreds of feet in the air above the police car's position, or underneath a roof on a moving ferry ship.
  • Inconveniently Placed Conveyor Belt: The Industry/Lab levels have these.
  • Inexplicably Preserved Dungeon Meat: In Streets of Rage 2, you can find whole roasted chicken by smashing arcade cabinets, wooden crates, and trashcans. It may not be sanitary, or make any sense, but you take what you can get when you're being ganged up on.
  • Irony: The ending theme of Streets of Rage 2 is named "Good Ending", even though this installment is the only one without Multiple Endings.
  • I Shall Taunt You: Some enemies laugh when you are down. Mr. X will even take a look at the camera.
  • I Surrender, Suckers/Wounded Gazelle Gambit: The stronger variants of Nora/Electra have a tactic they like to use on you: kneel down as if they're feigning injury/surrender and then attack you while your back's turned.
  • Japanese Ranguage: Galsia instead of García (common Hispanic surname). SOR3 fixed this, minus the accent.
  • Joke Character: Ash and Victy/Roo. They're both quite capable of kicking ass, regardless.
  • Kangaroos Represent Australia: Roo/Victy.
  • Ki Attacks: A few of the characters' specials get a little glowy.
  • Kick Chick: Though not as prevalent as in other games, Blaze and the female enemies have powerful kick moves.
  • Launcher Move: Adam's normal combo consists of two jabs, an uppercut that launches the enemy high into the air, and then roundhousing said enemy before/just as he/she lands.
  • Lennon Specs: Hard to see in-game due to low resolution, but Antonio wears these.
  • The Lethal Connotation of Guns and Others: All the bosses are various types of badass with various methods of using their fists and feet. Mr. X, being an expy of the final boss from Final Fight, just packs a cool suit, infinite mooks, and a Tommygun. The front end hurts like hell, and the back end halves your health. This is because unlike that crossbow-wielding loser, Mr. X is made of hair gel, capitalism, and badassery.
  • Let X Be the Unknown: Mr. X, obviously.
  • Life Meter: A standard in the series with some changes in between games. Only bosses had health bars in the first game and they changed colors first before properly draining once their health got low. The second game has mooks and bosses with multiple life bars colored in blue and drained to red while a single star represented a full life bar. The third game keeps the same life bar system for enemies, but made the multiple life bars be signified with a number of "lives" and the bar drains from yellow to blue until they're on their last bar. Weapons also have life meters in the third game to represent their durability.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: "Up and Up" from the first game, a slower mix of "In the Bar," another variant of "Go Straight" and "Little Money Avenue" in the 2nd, and, for the US version of the 3rd game, "Kama de Coco," all found in the sound test but never heard in the games proper.
  • Man on Fire: Anyone hit with a fire attack.
  • Market-Based Title: The series is known as Bare Knuckle in Japan, but Streets of Rage everywhere else.
  • Martial Arts Headband: Axel. Blaze, too, but only in the first game. And on the bad guys' side, Shiva.
  • Martial Arts Uniform: The Martial Artist enemies. Axel and Adam in 3's good ending.
  • Megaton Punch: Axel's standing/Blaze's moving Special Attack in Streets of Rage 2 and 3; in practice, anyway (technically, Blaze's is more like a Megaton Palm)...
  • Mercy Invincibility: When you lose a life, your character comes back by falling from the sky and all enemies on screen are knocked down to prevent them from ganging up on the player who just respawned.
    • Also, most bosses (and some Mooks) either have an invincible move they use while they get up, or this, preventing you from trapping them with a punch or grab.
  • The Men in Black: The hitmen wearing suits and sunglasses and wielding guns in SOR3.
  • Mini-Boss: The stronger mooks that don't become regular until one or two stages later.
  • Mirror Boss: Onihime and Yasha in the first game, also serving as Dual Bosses. They are just green clothed (and then purple in the final level) versions of Blaze and use the same moves as her.
  • Mondegreen: Blaze's special move voice samples are clearly "You don't do that" / "But I do."
  • Mooks: The Syndicate goons.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • SOR1 had two. One where you beat Mr. X and save the city, and one which could only be reached in co-op mode, by having one player refuse Mr. X's offer to join him, and have another accept. After a fight to the death, the winner fought Mr. X and became the crime boss in his place.
    • While SOR2 lacked multiple endings, SOR3 had no less than four of them.
      • One was reached by beating Stage 5 on Easy, where the robot Mr. X insults you and Zan declares that they must try harder.
      • One had you going to the White House/City Hall to destroy the impostor General/Chief. A final battle with Shiva ensues, and a bad end is shown where Zan attempts to interrogate Shiva as to Mr. X's whereabouts. Shiva doesn't spill the beans, leaving the gang at a dead end.
      • One where you destroy the final boss and save the city from the bombs/prevent general death and destruction around the world.
      • And a bad ending where the final boss is beaten but time runs out. The bombs explode, people die, the city gets ruined and the trust the people of the city placed in Axel and the gang is damaged. BK3 attempts to soften the blow by stating that either way, nuclear war between America and Lima has been prevented. That the bombs wrecked the city is incidental, in time this tragedy will be forgotten.
      • Even the bad ending in Stage 6 got censored, but only for the image that displays behind the text. In the Japanese version, a picture of the bombed city appears. In the U.S. version, it's just a black screen.
  • Multiple Life Bars: Boss characters have this and mooks will have them as well late in the game or if the difficulty is set high. Certain weapons in the 3rd game will also have this.
  • Nerf: Axel's default blitz attack in the 3rd game was toned down due to being a Game-Breaker from the 2nd game. Weapons also received a nerf by having limited durability via life bar.
  • Nintendo Hard: The harder difficulties are damn hard. The American release of the third game is pretty tough, but on Hard mode, it is insane, with enemies doing massive damage to you and bosses having at least four health bars (sometimes seven). The Japanese version's enemies do much less damage and it is the same on all difficulties, and there is a Very Hard mode as well (missing from the American release — Easy is Japanese's Normal, and so Hard on US version is Japanese's Very Hard). Pick your poison — either Japanese Very Hard is way too easy, or US version even on Normal is tough.
  • No Name Given: The names of the enemies in the first game were only given in the Japanese version's manual, although almost all of them actually returned in the sequels. Notably, the two green-clad Blaze palette swaps are actually Mona and Lisa from Streets of Rage 3 (or Onihime and Yasha as they're called in Japan). There's also the nameless police officer that drops your smart bombs.
  • Non-Lethal Bottomless Pits: In stage 3 of SOR3, there are several pits that you and enemies can fall into. If you fall in, you simply respawn with a lot of health lost, unless the damage was enough to outright kill you. Averted with enemies; if one falls in, they die instantly, even if they have multiple life bars!
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Ash in the Japanese version of SOR3 is sent reeling and crying when all of his energy is gone instead of dying.
  • Nostalgia Level: Many areas in the second game are reminiscent of areas from the first game. The lift in 3's fifth stage is also nearly identical visually to the one in the last level of 2.
  • Nuke 'em: In the first game, you were able to call upon another squad car for support. An allied officer then (via either a rocket launcher or heavy-duty machine gun) then provides cover fire, clearing the area with the same basic effect as napalm would.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Barkeeping: In SOR2's second stage. Once your fight with Electra starts, though, the man takes off running.
  • Obstructive Foreground: In addition of obstructing your view, they also hide secret items.
  • Offhand Backhand: Some of the playable characters' back attacks consist of this.
  • One-Hit KO: In 3, while falling into a Bottomless Pit will take off a large amount of your Life Meter, knocking or throwing an enemy into one kills them outright. Even if they have more than one bar of health left! There's also a feature in the 3D version of the first game that lets you beat anyone with a single punch, regardless of difficulty or enemy health.
  • Orchestra Hit Techno Battle: Some of the series' boss battle music are very energetic techno tracks that gets you pumped during a fight.
  • Palette Swap: Loads of the enemies exploit these, considering it's a beat 'em up game, after all...
  • Panty Shot: Streets of Rage 2 has Blaze do this in her jump kick sprite. Some versions censored it.
  • Pepper Sneeze: Throwing a pepper shaker at baddies in the first game leaves them vulnerable amidst sneezeing fits.
  • Pipe Pain: The heroes can use a lead pipe laying around stages to inflict some pain on the Syndicate goons.
  • Pistol-Whipping: Mr. X with his Tommy Gun.
  • Police Are Useless: Subverted. Not only are the main characters cops, but in the original game, one special attack (usable once per life per level, with the player able to gain additional uses with Power Ups shaped like small cars) involves a police car driving up from the left side of the screen fire explosives, taking health from all enemies.
  • Power Trio: First game only. It becomes a Four-Temperament Ensemble in the sequels.
  • Precision-Guided Boomerang: Antonio, an early-level boss from the first game.
  • Promoted to Playable: Shiva.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Streets of Rage 3 has this type of ending occur if you fail to stop Neo X/Robot Y within the time limit. Sure, you defeated Mr. X for good, but his bombs leveled the entire city and the civilians' trust in the police force has been broken.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Most characters have some version as a moving Special Attack. Axel even ends his with a Shoryuken for good measure.
  • Recurring Boss: Both in the same game and across the series in some cases, with those that become degraded bosses italicized in the game the degradation occurs:
    • Abadede: 1, 2: Was the third boss in SOR1, and was quite pitiful due to his simple pattern in battle. In SOR2, he was the fourth boss, and became one of the toughest bosses to fight because of his high health, strong attacks, and his ability to counter damage easily with an attack of his own.
    • Bongo: 1, 2, 3: First considered a boss in the original, became a sub-boss in the original as well, and then he had his appearance greatly changed, appearing as Big Ben.
    • Jet: 2, 3: First appeared on the second stage of the bridge in SOR2, where he had low health. He returned in SOR3, but the last battle took a heavy toll on him; he was bald, lethargic, and needed an oxygen mask, possibly being revived as a cyborg. He was much more difficult, however, as he had more attacks and mooks with jetpacks themselves.
    • Shiva: 2, 3: Appeared as the penultimate boss in SOR2, where he was notable for his speed. In the third game, he is the first stage boss, but this battle is only a warm-up for the real boss battle in Stage 7 (if you fail to complete the previous mission in time).
    • Onihime/Mona and Yasha/Lisa: 1, 3: Both incredibly hard bosses due to their fondness for highly damaging moves and the fact there's two of them against you.
    • Mr. X: All games.
  • Rewarding Vandalism: Objects in the background can be smashed for items, weapons, or points.
  • Robot Me: Axel and Mr. X get one in 3.
  • Rollerblade Good: Skate.
  • Say My Name: In Bare Knuckle 3, if the player fails to save General Ivan Petrov in Stage 6 (or the Chief of Police, though this is averted in the U.S. version): "IVAAAAAAAAANNNNNNN!"
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Necessitated because The Syndicate rendered the police useless at best and corrupt at worst; the original protagonists resign from the police to shut down the syndicate.
  • Self-Deprecation: 2 allows you to crush its' own arcade machines in Stage 3 (which did exist, but not as a dedicated cabinet like in the game, but rather as part of Sega's Mega Play multi-game cabinets). Like any other breakable scenery, in just ONE punch, with additional health given as a reward. Counts as Biting-the-Hand Humor performed on itself as well.
  • Scenery Gorn: in the Japanese version of Streets of Rage 3, all the more reason for trying not to screw up.
  • Scoring Points: Cash bags and gold bars exist to grant bonus points, and a high enough score earns you an extra life. In Streets of Rage 3, earning 40,000 points on a single life grants you a star, which upgrades your blitz attack. The harder the difficulty, more points you get at the end of each round. This applies to all of the games.
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: Streets of Rage 3. Not only is this installment much harder, the game won't let you continue to Stage 6 and beyond on the easiest difficulty.
  • She-Fu: To an extent, Blaze and some of the female enemies (particularly Blaze's "clones," Onihime and Yasha).
  • She's Got Legs: Blaze and the female enemies.
  • Shock and Awe: Dr. Zan, the Electra-type enemies, and most of the robots across the series.
  • Shout-Out: Right off the bat, the title "Streets of Rage" may well reference the movie Streets of Fire (which served as inspiration for Final Fight, which, in turn, inspired SOR). Adam Hunter and Axel Stone may be named after City Hunter and Axel Foley, respectively. Also, see Theme Naming below. Looks like someone was a Berserk and Fist of the North Star fan...
  • Smart Bomb: In the first game, the player can summon a police car, and its driver will fire a missile or Gatling gun that damages onscreen enemies, but leaves the players unharmed.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Mr. X likes to do this. Especially in the second game, he slouches in his chair while you fight a wave of mooks and then Shiva. In the first game, should you achieve the ending where your character replaces Mr. X, both Axel and Blaze will do this.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": A lot of Mook names are obviously misspelled. Galsia should be García, among other names. See also Theme Naming. The third game fixes this (but only in the English release).
  • Stripperific:
    • Blaze's outfit in games 2 and 3.
    • The boss Electra, who looks like a dominatrix, complete with whip. There are multiple versions of her sprite.
    • Electra, Blaze, and mook Soozie wear markedly more clothing in the American release.
  • Strong Flesh, Weak Steel: How do you break through concrete barriers and keep that bulldozer from squashing you? Simple. By punching them. You also routinely punch robots to death, while taking a whirling spiked ball on the chin.
    • An special attack or even a well timed jab can deflect thrown knives, kunai, axes, lit torches... Pretty much everything except bullets.
  • Suplex Finisher: A lot of characters use the German suplex.
  • Surprise Creepy: The last section of Stage 3 in 2.
  • The Syndicate: Lead by Mr. X, who's responsible for the city's downfall in the series.
  • Team Shot: The intro to the first game (see above).
  • Theme Naming: Lots of the enemies have themed names.
    • The masked biker punks from SOR2 are all named for weather conditions (Fog, Mist, Storm, Calm, etc.)
    • The Signal Gang Members in SOR2 are named after the colour of their jacket (Y. Signal for yellow jacket, B. Signal for blue jacket, etc). In SOR3 they are named after other things (Ice, Scarab).
    • The guys with jetpacks have aircraft names (Jet, Comet, etc.)
    • The Fat Bastards in SOR2 have names reflecting their girth: Big Ben, Big Go, Buffet, etc.
    • The ninja mooks are named after Japanese action stars: (Sonny) Chiba, (Toshiro) Mifune, and (Sho) Kosugi to name a few.
    • The kickboxers are named after birds (Ibis, Phoenix, Eagle).
    • Some of the Shaolin monks are named after mythical Asian creatures (Suzaku, Seiryu, Byatcko), while others are named after Buddhist terms (Ashura, Rakan, Kongoh). There are even monks named after the birds represented by the Nanto Seiken branches from Fist of the North Star (Ko-Shu, Suicho, Ko-Kaku, Hakuro and Ho-Oh).
    • The robots, in SOR2, after chemistry-related terms (molecule, particle, isotope, uranium, hydrogen, etc).
    • In BK3, The Men in Black are named either after various types of metal or as McNames.
    • Several Mooks in SOR2 seem to be named after manga/anime Characters. For example: Veherit, Caska, Griphis, Souther, and Heart.
    • The shirtless martial artists in SOR3 are named mostly after animals connected to martial arts styles, e.g. Tiger, Snake, Dragon.
  • Third-Person Seductress: Blaze. She even winks at you on the character select screen in 1.
  • Timed Mission: While the clocks in the first two games tick rather slowly, you will lose a life if the clock runs out. The third game gets rid of the clock altogether, except for Stage 6 when attempting to save the Chief of Police (General Petrov in Bare Knuckle 3); if the timer runs out, gas floods the building, and you later fight an alternate Final Boss and receive the game's Bad Ending.
    • The Final Boss battle in Streets of Rage 3 is against the super-powered Robot-Y (or Neo X in Bare Knuckle 3). You have to defeat it within three minutes to get the good ending.
  • Token Trio: Adam (black dude), Axel (white guy), and Blaze (token woman).
  • True Companions: The cast of the first two games are this. 2 was them raising hell for the Syndicate to save Adam. Later in 3, Dr. Zan adds himself to the list.
  • Turn in Your Badge: What Adam, Axel, and Blaze did prior to the events of the first game.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Axel, Adam, and Blaze.
  • Unique Enemy: In most stages of SOR2 there are unique variants of punks which will give you 10000 points if defeated, such as Mc. K and Altet (Donovans) in stage 1, and Axi and Mavin (Signals) in stage 3.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: The star system in 3. Survive well and you'll rack up the points needed to get stars. Die frequently, and you'll never see them, or lose them all and never get them back if you had them. In fact, especially on the Nintendo Hard North American verison of 3, it is entirely possible to have a lot of experience with the game, but never even hear of the star system.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • The Sega Vintage Collection: Streets of Rage features various graphical and audio options, 1080p support, fully re-mappable controls, the ability to save anywhere during local modes, online multiplayer, leaderboards, new game trials, sharable replays. It also gives players the ability to play each of the games' different regional versions, allowing players to play the original Japanese version of Bare Knuckle III.
    • 3D Streets of Rage features a CRT-like filter, new sound options, a stage select function, and a new one-hit deathblow mode where enemies are killed in a single hit for beginners.
  • Urban Hellscape: Yet another example, and is almost completely a clone of Final Fight.
  • Variable Length Whip: SOR2 Electras and their cyber whip-hands. Elle's profile outright states this to be a feature of the weapon.
  • Vice City: And it's your job to clean it up.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left!: Shiva does this in the third game. However, Shiva is fought as the final boss if you fail to save the Chief of Police/Ivan Petrov in Stage 6. Mr. X himself does this in most of the bad endings of Streets of Rage 3.
  • Villains Out Shopping: Some enemies are just doing their thing (resting, playing arcade, partying in the disco etc.) before you drop in.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Max. Also some Mooks and bosses like Donovan and Abadede.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: While Shiva escapes after being defeated in the third game, there are no signs of him returning or even being mentioned after the plot is resolved. (Although you can have a rematch with Shiva, if you fail to save the Chief of Police/General Petrov in stage 6.)
    • The Japanese version clears this up in the good ending: While Axel & co. was trashing Mr. X's base, Adam went to the 'phony General Petrov' and arrested him. The implication is that Adam beats the crap out of Shiva, who was impersonating Petrov, and hauls him back to jail.
  • Whip It Good: Electra and other dominatrix ladies.
  • With This Herring: One of SoR2's weapons is probably supposed to be a kunai, but it's much more fun to think of it as "the fish."
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Axel, Blaze, and Adam list their fighting styles as kickboxing, martial arts, and judo, yet their rear throws consist of German suplexes and overhead belly-to-belly suplexes. Skate features some flying grapples ala Rey Mysterio, and Max is, well... a wrestler.
  • X-Ray Sparks: Anyone hit with an electric attack. Electra will demonstrate this repeatedly with her electric whip.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: All the games have at least seven levels. So, when you confront Mr. X in Level 5 during the third game, don't be surprised if it's not over (and try not to snap your controller if you're playing Easy Mode...).


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