The more I see of Streets of Rage 4, the more it looks like a fan-made project that actually received funding, and I mean that in the very best way. A new trailer hit today, and it focuses on the art in the upcoming game. The original design was limited by the technology of the era, and the pixel-based characters had a black outline. Pulling from that inspiration, the team at Lizardcube is trying to recapture the look they love by incorporating that same design in the new hand-drawn characters, albeit with some extra clarity.
The level design is heavily inspired by the previous games, especially Streets of Rage 2. In the original design documents for that game, they had a car crash as you rounded a corner. That’s significant for two reasons. First, corners were hard to do at the time. Second, the car crash didn’t happen, but it will be added to Streets of Rage 4. The trailer shows a comparison of a level in the old and the first level in the new game, and fans are going to recognize some of the elements immediately.
Without destroying the 2D feel, the team also wanted to show some depth. As you walk through the level, they added a lot of parallax scrolling for the backgrounds. It looks good. They admit that believable 2D adds that depth, and it took some technical solutions from the team to make it look right.
On a well-known franchise like Streets of Rage, all of this work means nothing if the fans aren’t with you. The developers mention that they have really appreciated your comments online and at conferences. They have been very grateful for the community’s warm reception, and they are working hard to not disappoint them. Everyone on the team seems to share a deep appreciation for the franchise, and that passion shines through when they talk about their process.
Streets of Rage 4 is coming sometime later this year. The game’s story will be set ten years after Streets of Rage 3, and it will feature music from the original composers. It really does seem like a project made by fans, instead of committees, and I’m looking forward to future updates. Until then, check out the trailer to see more.