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‘Streets of Rage 4’ iOS Review – The Best Mobile Beat Em Up Ever?

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When I played Streets of Rage 4 ($7.99) on Nintendo Switch at launch, I was blown away by how it looked, played, and sounded. I’ve since replayed it multiple times across basically every platform and it has moved into the list of games I install on all platforms for easy access when I want to relax alongside games like Dead Cells, No Man’s Sky, and whatever rhythm game I’m currently playing. Playdigious announcing Streets of Rage 4 for mobile was awesome, because I had another platform I can play this masterpiece on, and get to see how this version of the game compares to consoles and the PC version including how it runs on Steam Deck. As with my other reviews of ports on mobile, I’ll also be comparing the different versions.

If you’ve never heard of Streets of Rage, it is SEGA’s classic side-scrolling beat-em up series that hadn’t seen a new entry until Dotemu, Guard Crush, and Lizard Cube came together to give us the awesome Streets of Rage 4 on PC and consoles back in 2020. The Xbox version was handled by BlitWorks while Seaven Studio did the PS4 and Nintendo Switch versions of the game for launch day alongside the PC version. Streets of Rage 4 in its entirety (minus online multiplayer that is coming in an update) and the Mr. X Nightmare DLC have both now arrived on iOS and Android through Playdigious in a brilliant conversion that only has a few minor issues right now.

Streets of Rage 4 has you initially selecting one of four playable characters and taking on the game’s story mode. This story mode has some gorgeous visuals across its cut-scenes and animations. Once you complete the story mode, you unlock stage select that lets you revisit any stage. Expect to take about four hours at most to finish a single run of the story on normal. Streets of Rage 4 doesn’t end there though. It includes an arcade mode where you get only one credit to complete it like in the arcades, a boss rush mode, and more. If you buy the Mr X. Nightmare DLC, there’s more here as well. I’ll get to that in a bit.

The stages have enemies, healing items, items to boost your score, weapons, and bosses. The healing items or food you can collect is customizable which is a nice touch. What makes Streets of Rage 4 so good compared to other games in the genre, is in how each character is worth experiencing the story mode with thanks to unique abilities, unlockables, and more. While some enemies are harder depending on what character you’ve selected, the team has done a great job in making the stages all feel fresh with different characters. I love the interactions between weapons and your playable character and enemies. You also have a lot of retro throwback characters to unlock through milestones in your lifetime score. I’m surprised at how much fun they have been to use.

On iOS, ​​Streets of Rage 4 lets you adjust quite a few visual options. These include screen shake (which I disabled), luminosity, button prompts (PS4, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch), a filter to pixelate or replicate a CRT display, and more. While you can toggle dynamic resolution which was likely there for lower-end devices, the advanced options really let you play around with the graphics. You can use presets here or change the settings individually. On my iPad Pro (2020 model) and iPhone 11, I played with everything to ultra and had no issues hitting 60fps. The oldest device I have with me at home is an iPhone SE (first generation) with its small screen. I had to drop things down to medium or a bit lower to maintain 60fps in some stages in the testing I did. Ultra and High are not feasible for it. There was a bug with training mode in an earlier build I had, but the current build I have has that issue sorted.

I wasn’t too worried about the visuals and performance in Streets of Rage 4 on newer devices given Playdigious’ history, but I was a bit concerned about the controls. If you play with touch controls, Streets of Rage 4 has a big on-screen analog stick on the left and action buttons on the right. You can adjust the position and size of the virtual joystick and the action buttons. You can even adjust the spacing for the action buttons and re-order them. The controls work well on my phone, but I didn’t enjoy myself much on the iPad with virtual controls after a few stages. I prefer playing these games on the iPad with a physical controller. I used my PS5 DualSense controller which worked flawlessly for everything but pausing didn’t work for some reason. Hopefully this small issue can be addressed in a future update so that both touch and controller can be used on their own completely.

If you were wondering whether the Mr. X Nightmare DLC for Streets of Rage 4 is worth getting, it absolutely is. Streets of Rage 4 is a steal at the asking price on mobile compared to other platforms, and that applies to the DLC as well. This DLC adds new playable characters including Estel who has a fantastic design, a new survival mode, character customization options, new weapons, and more. It expands a superb game into an essential. I assume the reasoning for selling it separately is to keep the price of the base game below $9.99, but would’ve personally preferred having the game cost $11 or $12 with the DLC included from the start.

If you haven’t bought Streets of Rage 4 on any platform and are wondering where to get it, this is one of the few games that is awesome on everything. The advantage to the mobile version is the low asking price compared to console and PC, but the online multiplayer isn’t available right now. Performance on modern iOS devices is better than Switch, but the game is mostly perfect on Switch as well. It looks really good across the board as well. I’ve had no issues playing on Steam Deck as well. The screenshot below has the unlockable characters blurred to avoid potential spoilers for newcomers.

Playdigious is great with updating and fixing its mobile releases, so I hope the few menu interactions outside gameplay get addressed to be more intuitive with touch controls. There’s no reason I should have to use on-screen arrows to scroll when I can just tap on the menu item. Barring that, I hope the controller support is improved a bit so the game can be fully controlled with the PS5 DualSense controller rather than only the gameplay and some menus.

Not only is Streets of Rage 4 on iOS an amazing conversion, but it also costs a fraction of what it does on other platforms. I was surprised at how good it felt to play with touch controls and how well it runs on my iPhone and iPad Pro. While I can’t comment on the online multiplayer yet (I will be covering that in a separate feature when it goes live), Streets of Rage 4 on iOS is the real deal and an absolute must-play if you enjoy side-scrolling beat-em-ups.

If you haven’t sampled the genre yet, there’s no better way to get into it right now than Streets of Rage 4. Streets of Rage 4 is by far my favorite beat-em-up, and I’m glad to see it in such an amazing conversion on mobile. Hopefully it does well like Dead Cells did on mobile and leads to a whole new audience discovering this amazing game. It feels surreal going from the announcement trailer from Dotemu a few years ago to the game delivering in spades on all platforms, through its DLC, and now with an excellent mobile conversion. I look forward to playing it online as well once the multiplayer update hits in the future.

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