A funny thing happened on my way to Chinatown — that is, stage six of Streets of Rage 4. While pummeling faces in stage five (Underground) I stumbled into a portal through time. Streets of Rage 4 is, naturally, a throwback to the classic series of the ’90s. And yet, the developers managed to put a throwback in this throwback. The game contains secret retro levels, playable Easter eggs hidden in plain sight. I tried recreating the steps I took in order to access this concealed, pixelated realm, but alas. However, with the assistance of PC Invasion’s Tim McDonald, we found out how. And then we discovered more.
We have located four retro levels hiding in Streets of Rage 4. To be clear, these aren’t full-fledged stages, but short boss fights starring big bads from Streets of Rage 2 in their respective arenas. Once you finish the boss, you must exit and go back to the game proper. The only reward given in finding them (other than the nostalgia bait) is a star for an extra super move.
What you need to access them
Stages in Streets of Rage 4 that contain hidden retro levels need two items: a key and a door. Or, more specifically, a taser weapon (the key) and a Bare Knuckle arcade cabinet (the door). The latter is a nod to the same machines found in Streets of Rage 2, and they’re scattered about this latest iteration. However, the taser is uncommonly found weapon, seen in only so many stages. But both of them together in the same stage is even more rare. We believe the taser is required, as other weapons don’t seem to work. But there is a good chance there are other retro levels with different requirements.
I won’t spoil who you fight, as that would rob the excitement of which low-res ghost of Sega past you face. Bearing that in mind, here are the retro levels we found at current:
Retro level 1: Police Precinct
The Police Precinct is the second stage of Streets of Rage 4. After getting rounded up for delivering vigilante street justice, you find yourself locked in a holding cell. After you make your way out from the cell, defeat all oncoming enemies until the snaking hallway banks right. There, you’ll fight a taser-wielding cop. Knock the taser to the ground and continue taking out enemies until the game let’s you proceed. Grab the taser, and enter the door up top leading to a Bare Knuckle arcade machine. Use the taser on the machine, and get ready to enter the Matrix.
Additionally, while trying to avoid spoilers, you can take the boss’ pixelated knife out of the arena with you. Take the fight to the modern era, old-school style.
Retro level 2: Old Pier
Old Pier is the fourth stage in Streets of Rage 4. After crashing into the pier, make your way past swarms of Galsias, Donovan, and Garnets. There’s a small arcade at the end of the pier, complete with a neon sign. You’ll know you’re at the end when you face off against four cops, two with tasers and the others with the futuristic riot shields that can’t stand up to a few punches.
Knock out the cops with the tasers, but be careful — the pier is riddled with large holes, and you could lose the weapon to one. You don’t have to defeat all the enemies here. Just grab a taser and head into the door to the right of the arcade. Walk in and slap that coin box with the zap stick.
Retro level 3: Underground
This is the aforementioned retro level I first stumbled upon. Underground is the fifth stage in Streets of Rage 4, and presents a long trek to find the hidden retro level. You start off in a sewer before making your way up to the Bar of the Rising Sun — headquarters of the Red Demon gang. About two-thirds of the way into bar, you’ll see the Bare Knuckle arcade machine against a wall covered in licence plates. There’s a Galsia holding a taser nearby — that’s your ticket in.
Be careful, however. The bar is a wretched hive of scum and villainy, swarming with enemies. The arcade machine could get destroyed during the fray, so try and lure foes to the left while keeping an eye on that taser.
Retro level 4: Art Gallery
This is the last retro level we found (so far). Art Gallery is the eighth stage of the game, and contains the longest — and possibly best — fight in the retro levels. Right before the boss battle, you’ll enter a room with crates and a pile of golden chickens. Oh, and a giant, purple butt plug, but let’s not dwell on that weird, little fact. The arcade machine is on the far left of the room, impossible to miss. What is possible to miss, however, is the key to get inside.
In the picture below, you can just barely see it. Zoom in to Adam’s right foot. That’s right! Hidden just behind the crate lid is … a taser. Pick it up, smack the machine, and try to survive the tough battle ahead.
Wait, there’s more?
Finding a retro level in the game awards you with the achievement “Discover a retro level.” While we can confirm the aforementioned three, there’s a chance there are more hidden away in Streets of Rage 4. We’ll keep an eye out and update this article as necessary.