One year after the battle, which involved the defeat of the evil Me. X in the original Street of Rage, the city that had been plagued with crime and violence was safe and peaceful. However, the Syndicate destroyed by the brave vigilantes resurrects its evil power! Mr. X with revenge in his heart, kidnaps Adam, their best friend, to lure them into his trap. Knowing it's a trap, Axel and Blaze, along with Adam's younger brother Skate, make a stand to save Adam and put evil Mr. X this time and for all out of action!
Initially, you must choose one of the Axel, Balze or Skate, all of which are masters on martial art techniques which they can perform by clicking button 1 for punches/kicks and button 2 for jumping. Use a combination of these two buttons along with the preferred direction in order to perform jumping punch/kick (when in mid-air), grabbing an enemy or even make a combo attack (i.e. multiple punches ending with an uppercut). Grabbing enemies and throwing them in the opposite direction is quite useful too, as it takes them out instantly. All of these moves can be performed by the nasties though, so keep the distance when possible. Of course you may grab and use several weapons found, such as knives, pipes and swords (some of them taken from the beaten enemies). You drop your current weapon if you grab someone, pick up another weapon, get knocked down or thrown. Nasties vary from ninjas, thugs to several big bosses at the end of each stage.
Ok, as you might already think, the gameplay is great and enriching although VERY similar to the (old) well known Double Dragon series. Stages vary from outdoor scenes of dark city streets to indoor places like sewers and skyscrapers. But if you are not patient, you get easily frustrated due to its extreme difficulty as each enemy needs a different tactical combat to attack and defeat even in easy mode. It's hard to play in single-player mode, as nasties will always get to hit you...from behind! What also makes this title special is the feature of a two-player game, as well. So if you was lucky enough to know someone else with a Game Gear and a link cable, it was great fun back then!
Street of Rage 2 was a great side-scrolling beat-em-up, although its similarities (except for the combos) with the Double Dragon series. Note that, the original (Megadrive/Genesis) version offered 8 stages of gameplay, but the Game Gear and Master System ports lacks stages 2, 3 and 7 probably due to memory limitations, but I can't think of any reason why those specific stages are missing! Probably the best beat-em-up title for the 8bit Game Gear portable and Master System console.
The graphics are excellent, like most of the beat-em-ups released or ported to the Game Gear (and SMS). All outdoor (i.e. city landscapes, aboard ship) and indoor (i.e. factory, Syndicate headquarters) scenes are well drawn with many details, whilst sprites move fast and smooth. When performing combos, sprite animation is great too although the fairly small size of the sprites. Note that, the Game Gear port uses a different background color palette in some stages (especially when indoor) when compared to its big brother Master System. But both use the same amount of details.
Soundtracks, although short and repetitive, are greatly composed and written by the famous at the time Yuzo Koshiro (responsible for many 8 - 16bit game tunes).