It’s been a long time coming, but LizardCube and Dotemu are finally ready to bring back the Streets of Rage franchise. And in a big, big way. Streets of Rage 4 is set to debut on PC via Steam this summer, bringing with it all the beat-em-up fun of the original games. However, it’ll have a great new art style, along with an all-star soundtrack, various characters and more. Oh, and you can totally team up with a friend.
To give us an idea of what old-school goodness we’re in for, we sat down with creative director Ben Fiquet and Dotemu CEO Cyrille Imbert. They discuss a number of topics, including how the game came to be, as well as gameplay features…and who will soon join the party.
First off, at what point did you guys say, “Hey, we never really got a sequel to Streets of Rage!”, and how did that lead to getting things moving with development?
Cyrille: At Dotemu, that’s really what we do. So we kind of ask ourselves that question for A LOT of games. But basically, SoR has been one of my favorite childhood games as a Sega kid and Ben (Lizardcube Art Director and co-founder) loves the games as well. During the Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap release party at the office, we started to talk about what we should do next, and Ben had already worked on some beautiful designs. We were on the same page, I had to go and make it happen.
Was Sega on board with the idea of making a new Streets of Rage game? They must be aware of how much of a legacy the series has created.
Cyrille: Talking to Sega was one of the first things I did. I went to Tokyo with Ben’s first arts and the concept of the sequel. They loved the idea, and seeing what we had done with Wonder Boy, it didn’t take too much time to convince them.
Streets of Rage 4 utilizes beautiful hand-drawn style of visuals, but with an old-school touch. How did you guys come up with this style, and what do you think makes it work so well?
Ben: We spent a lot of time at Lizardcube to try to have a proper look fitting for Streets of Rage. I wanted to have beautiful handcrafted 2D, but at the same time giving it the “feel” of the original pixel art. So there’s different graphic tricks but mainly we need to stay close to the neon-filled streets, over-muscular punks and garbage filled with chicken. Also, the traditional animation gives a fresh and appealing look to the combats and characters.
Back to (old) school
There’s not much known about Streets of Rage 4’s story thus far, but I assume it takes place a few years after 3 concluded? Or are you waiting to reveal those details yet?
Ben: The story is set 10 years from the last episode. The city has once again fallen into the hands of an evil organization and once again, our favorite hero/vigilantes takes it upon themselves to clean up the mess.
It’s good to see Adam Hunter return to the mix after taking the last couple of games off. What was the reception like when you introduced him back into the fold, alongside Cherry and the others?
Cyrille: The reception has been amazing. It was frustrating for us as, on all previous announcements, people were constantly asking for him in the comments. We wanted to keep the surprise and were waiting to have final visuals in order to show him in all his glory. We wanted to tell them so bad, but the wait was worth it!
Tuned up with Yuzo Koshiro
You’ve got an all-star line-up of music contributors for Streets of Rage 4, including the maestro himself, Yuzo Koshiro. How were you able to put together such a cast of composers?
Cyrille: Right from the beginning, we wanted the music to be one of the pillars of SoR4. And in order to make it truly special, we needed an exceptional cast of artists, and Koshiro-san and [Motohiro] Kawashima-san (Streets of Rage, Shinobi) had to be part of this adventure. When I explained that to Alexander Aniel from Bravewave, a company who works with tons of great Japanese composers, he instantly started to submit famous names. We went back and forth with the dev team until we had our dreamteam. We still had to convince all these talented people to work with us, but with our passion and the concept we had in mind we managed to make it happen.
Was Yuzo excited when you pitched a new Streets of Rage game to him? That’s kind of something he’s become well known for.
Cyrille: Koshiro-san was surprised to see a French team coming and talking about a new Streets of Rage. I think it was a bit preoccupying for him at the beginning, which is completely understandable, as this series is surely something super important in his career. But, once we first met each other in Paris and showed him the first demo and concepts, he was very excited and, with patience and hard work, we managed to establish trust between each other. We are super honored to be working with Koshiro-san and Kawashima-san, it’s like a childhood dream come true!
Who else will join the party?
We know about four of the combatants featured in the game thus far. Can you give us any hints about the fifth, or are you waiting for the right time to reveal?
Ben: The last character is a big brawler guy. His set of moves makes him stand apart from the others.
The game is set to release sometime in the first half of the year. How’s the excitement building up for you guys? The fans must be thrilled.
Ben: The end of any project is exciting in its own way. But for SOR4, we also expect the fans to enjoy our work as a true follow up to an amazing series. I hope we don’t disappoint.
Dream Sega franchise?
Finally, if you guys had the chance to work on another Sega franchise, what would it be? OutRun, maybe? Vectorman? Alisia Dragoon?!
Cyrille: Oh my god! There are so many! If we had to choose, Shinobi, Outrun, and Golden Axe would be the ones we would absolutely LOVE to get the chance to work on.
Thanks to LizardCube and Dotemu for their time. Streets of Rage 4 releases this year, and is available for wishlist on Steam.