Nostalgia Part I: Streets of Rage

I grew up in the 1990s. I was a child of the 1980s, but I can’t remember anything really before 1989, as such kinda that doesn’t make my an 80s child. I grew up on the MegaDrive, not the Master System, I became a teenager whilst playing computer games on Windows 95 and Playstations in other peoples houses, after the morbid (an ever unforgivable) reluctance of my parents to buy me a Playstation console at any point during it’s reign. It’s testament to the strong willed nature of my parents to not give into my demands of each Christmas and Birthday to the grand grey sony machine. The console still has an air of mystery around it, having never owned a Playstation.

So when they got me my Dreamcast, 10 years ago next month, I could scarcely belive it. It was almost exactly 10 years ago when they said they would get it for me, at a dinner at the Crooked Lum Beefeater (my restaurant of choice) for my birthday. It was a momentous occasion. It will forver be a golden memory.

The one game from my childhood that I remember the most fondly, Sonic the Hedgehog games excepted, is the arcade classic Streets of Rage. It featured a trio of rebels who, in light of a massive crime wave headed by the Syndicate and the uber boss Mr. X, took the law into their own hands and set about going through 8 loosely linked areas in the city to beat the crap out of the hoodlums.

The cast was refreshing: Axel, the white body builder, Adam, the black boxer, and Axel the sexy ninja lady. The fun in the game didn’t come from palying it on your own, no – it was a co-op game before co-op was a major deal. You, as a team, worked thorugh the levels and bosses (twice of everything, to make it harder of course) and to the end, where you are asked to Join or Fight. If you say fight, he fights and you probably die. If you choose to join, he sends you back three levels to see if you can do it again, and then you fight. I’ve completed the game several times, mostly on hard, but only once with a friend.

Anyway, this bought of Nostalgia has been amplified for two reasons. Firstly, Youtube has all the theme music, which is as important to a game from the 1990s as the graphics were. The disco tunes are totally lost in the cinematic scores that are found the current generation games. Secondly, I recently picked up a game that reminds more and more as a play it of Streets of Rage: Left 4 Dead.

Left 4 Dead is a computer game for my Xbox where in a post apocalyptic world the Zombies are trying to munch your head off. So far so Romero, but the difference is that there are four survivors. This game cannot be played as a single player, there are always 4 players. Even if the computer has to play as them, they will still be there. The four of them are needed as the game chucks shitloads of zombies, bosses and events your way in varying waves meaning that no single game is the same as the last one – this is a brilliant feature. Also, the bosses, like the bosses in Streets of Rage, are testing – especially the terrifying Witch, who greets like a little girl, and moans, but if you wake her, in one swipe you are ruined.

The gameplay is brilliant, over Xbox Live, or just with Steve or Shayan. Better when it’s Steve and me on our tod, with Shayan and Kenny playing from their own houses. The team aspect of the game is perfectly balanced, as is the level of peril. It’s the best next generation co-op game I have ever played, and has actually stopped me from buying Beatles: Rock Band till I am sick of Left 4 Dead… which might take some time.