Posted on 02 Aug 2021 by Jay Shaw

Streets of Rage 4: Mr X Nightmare DLC

The Defence

Developer: DotEmu, Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games
Publisher: DotEmu
Genre: Arcade, Fighting
Platform: Consoles, PC
Review copy: Yes
Release date: 30 Apr 2020

The Prosecution

OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
AMD Phenom II X4 965
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTS 250
AMD Radeon HD 6670
DirectX: 10
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+
OS: Windows
CPU: Intel Core i5
AMD equivalent
VGA: Nvidia GeForce GTX 960
AMD Radeon HD 5750
HDD: 10 GB
DirectX: 10
Controller: Full
Mod Support: No
VR: No
FOV Slider: No
FPS Lock: 120+

The Case

Eagle eyed readers might have noticed that we here at PixelJudge absolutely love Streets of Rage 4, it’s a near perfect sequel that captures what’s great about the series and builds on the classic gameplay in a way that respected but still advanced the formula. Well, it’s now been a year since the base game released and we’ve just received the first DLC titled Mr X Nightmare, that brings four new characters, a robust training mode, and a rogue-lite style survival mode. But is it any good? Keep reading and we’ll attempt to figure that out.

The Trial

Let’s kick things off by taking a look at the four new characters. Up first we have best girl Estel, a recurring boss in the original release, who is now playable with her boss move set intact. She’s an absolute beast of heavy hits, knocking enemies down, and tanking damage. She’s probably the easiest of the new characters to pick up but also has a high skill ceiling with her extended combos requiring you to switch between quick and heavy attacks, jumping, and blitz attacks. Or if you’re anything like us, you can just spam her heavy attack because it recharges in the time it takes her recovery animation to play and knocks enemies down. No one ever said you have to fight with skill.

Second up is Shiva, whose sheer speed and ability to perform an air combo that optionally ends in a ground slam makes him a formidable mobility based fighter. His offensive special is a multi-hit teleport that can lock down even large enemies for a second. By default his blitz move, Final Crash, launches enemies into the air with a huge kick. Shiva also has a back attack with impressive range, letting you fire off a defensive attack before most enemies get in range for their own attacks. Like Estel, Shiva has a high skill ceiling but focuses heavily on his ground and air combo to land a lot of hits which makes his simple combo-blitz-jump combo easily executable and reasonably effective. Just like the earlier games, Shiva can’t pick up weapons but he can perform a quick throw of weapons on the floor or in the air, making him particularly effective at countering thrown bottles and grenades.

Our third new character is another returning fighter that appeared as a boss in the base game; Max. Like Floyd he focuses on dealing massive damage and grapples. His basic combo lacks range but deals a solid amount of damage while his blitz attack is a sliding tackle that assists in giving him some much needed mobility. He enters his own once you get hold of an enemy, all his throws are powerful and he can even jump while holding an enemy for a useful air throw. Of all the new characters, Max is our least favourite, he has less range and area of effect attacks than Floyd and not being able to move while grappling is only partially mitigated by the jump throw. That’s not to say he’s an unworthy addition to the roster, we’re glad he’s included but the big slow characters just don’t suit faster play styles and can feel very clunky next to other characters. For bonus points he references Hulk Hogan’s famous line by saying “Whatcha gonna do, when Maxamania runs wild on you!” on the character select.

The new complete roster and move selection menu.

From least favourite to most favourite, this macropus mangler is hidden behind a title screen cheat code (up + X then press start, release all three and choose story mode) and packs more punch than everyone else combined. Old-school fans already know who we’re hyping up so without further ado we present Roo/Victy; using his Streets of Rage 3 sprite and move set (with some additions) he’s unique in that he can unlock a full 5 move set like Streets of Rage 4 characters. He’s also unique in being a kangaroo. Roo is incredibly fragile but makes up for it with a move set that delivers punishing amounts of hits and a vertical double-tap dodge which is something no other character can do. Standout basic moves include; a back-grapple combo that delivers multiple strikes while keeping you out of range of enemies stood in front of your victim, and a back attack that has no cooldown, huge range, and steps you back. In survival mode, with the fire effect on regular combos perk, he’s also capable of an infinite juggle by just mashing the attack button like it’s an out of date potato. Roo’s default star attack summons a copy of robo-clown Bruce, who is strong enough to stand a chance against a boss on his own, and there doesn’t seem to be a limit on how many you can have which results in some hilarious boss stompings if you dump all your star attacks at the end of a level.

You can learn how to put these new characters to best use in the new training mode too. A robust set of tools lets you place enemies, items, and arena effects to create whatever situation you can dream up. You can also give enemies instructions if you want to practice against a specific thing. Playing survival mode unlocks more stuff to place too, helping tie in the training and progression in a way that makes exploring both worthwhile, even if you’re a veteran. We’re not ones to enjoy a training mode in most circumstances but without this one we’d never have figured out some of the most broken strategies we ended up employing in survival.

We saved the best for last: Survival mode is the real meat of new gameplay and presents an infinite series of random arenas and introduces perks. After defeating every enemy in an arena a couple of perks will appear for you to choose between, these can be simple such as getting an extra ten-percent damage or damage reduction, or they can be more complicated such as providing bonuses while taking away your ability to jump. Elemental effects also show up in three varieties; electric which passes a small percentage of damage to nearby enemies and does a mild stun, poison which drains enemy health for a few seconds, and fire that creates a pool of fire when enemies hit the floor. Elements can be applied to either heavy attacks (and the last hit of a regular combo), blitz attacks, or special attacks. They can also be applied to your star moves with the appropriate perk.

Estel's star move can quickly become insane.

There’s enough variety in the perks that we could easily write two-thousand words about those alone so we’re going to move on before that particular rabbit hole swallows us whole. As survival mode continues enemies become more powerful and numerous, bosses become more aggressive, and your skill at managing situations to mitigate damage taken become more important. Our only real complaint about this mode is that “unfair” deaths can and do happen with some regularity. For example, one arena is a wrestling ring with electric ropes, wrecking balls, and a pit – it’s so easy to get bounced in a way that will send you flying into every hazard and an instant death. Some bosses are especially good at not giving you much of a fighting chance too; Cherry and Adam in particular can lay down staggering amounts of damage and juggles with little chance to counter.

Even with the occasional unfair death, survival mode has proven to be an insane amount of fun. Experimenting with different characters and perk combinations can result in some hilarious outcomes like Roo’s infinite juggle or Cherry’s rockstar slide/poison combo. Difficulty scales up quickly and perks are never a substitute for skill so your progress is entirely dependent on your personal ability. Cooperative play is also a possibility, with both players having to share the perks available but also effectively double your damage output and available health. Our one complaint is that there’s no difficulty selection and while you may be thinking “duh, of course there isn’t” it does mean that survival mode is a slog for less skilled players, or those with difficulties playing.

There’s one more major addition in this DLC: alternate moves for everyone. All the Streets of Rage 4 characters and Roo get a full alternate move set (blitz, all three specials, and star move), Streets of Rage 2 and 3 characters get four alternate moves, and Streets of Rage 1 characters just get a single alternate move. The utility of the alternate moves isn’t always great, most of Estel’s for example make her weaker, but some of them change up the way a character plays significantly by opening up new strategies or easier ways to build large combos. Even better, you can take these earned moves over into story mode which helps add replay value.

The Verdict

Normally a DLC that adds a survival mode and a few characters wouldn’t even be on our radar, let alone in the running for us to actually purchase it, but Mr X Nightmare is very reasonably priced for the amount of variety and enjoyment on offer. We’ve put more hours into survival mode in the last week than we have in the story mode over the whole of the year and we’re not going to stop playing now the review is done. If you own Streets of Rage 4, this DLC is a no-brainer. Just go buy it right now and we promise it’ll be worth the price of admission.

Case Review

  • Moves: Alternate move sets let you mix and match for new play styles.

  • Victy: The best character is back and awesome!

  • Estel: Best girl Estel finally being playable is a granted wish.

  • Shiva: Best boy Shiva getting the full Streets of Rage 4 treatment is also great.

  • Survival: Survival mode is a surprising standout with tons of fun.

  • Training: The new training mode is great for improving your skills or just smacking around a few enemies.

5 Score: 5/5
A cheap DLC packed with more fun than a Happy Meal.

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