Before we get to the problems, let me tell you why you should care. Streets of Rage 3 may be the collectors' favourite due to its limited print run (in the UK at least), but Streets of Rage II is definitely the best game in the series. It's a side-scrolling beat-em-up where you make your way from left to right, KO-ing thugs, eating roast chickens in one bite and generally being badass. You can even play it in co-op with a mate. The sprites arebig and detailed, clearlybetter-drawn than those in the original Streets of Rage (already available on iPhone) and the music is superb. But that's where the problem comes in.
Above: Streets of Rage II, running on my phone. Not running perfectly, but still a wonderful moment
While it looks the same on iPhone, that unforgettableaudio track isn't quite right. It's all there, but there's horrible distortion on the music. That may not sound like it matters too much, but Yuzo Koshiro's masterful example of 16-bit MIDI composition is one of the reasons people hold the game in such high esteem, but here it sounds like it's had its volume boosted too loud.Those unforgettable melodies are horribly fuzzy andthe bass drum could easily have been put through ZZ Top's favourite fuzz box. Through headphones or speakers, it's the same story. There is a volume slider in the options which isn't just the iPhone's own volume level... but this doesn't affect the distortion even slightly. Boo!
On a lesser note, my 3GS also seems to be slowing down somewhat as the game plays, even when there are only a couple of characters on the screen. It isn't game-breaking, but not quite what I'd hoped for - especially when other Mega Drive emulations run just fine on the same handset. It's bound to run differently on the various iDevices, like the Sonic games, for instance, but a little more optimisation would be appreciated.
Above: TalkRadar UK listeners will know Skate is definitely Nathan's all-time favourite games character
Fortunately, iPhone games can be patched relatively easily and I'm sure Sega will be quick to rectify theseproblems, which shouldn't be too hard to do. In the mean-time, it's still worth playing at this price... even if you do have to turn the music off to stop the screen getting obscured by tears. Hey, at least it's out at last - it can only get better from here.
14 April, 2011