I know SEGA probably only see Streets of Kamurocho as a bit of fun and a nice marketing tool to promote Yakuza: Like A Dragon but this could be the start of something special.
It’s a natural marriage, bringing the RPG brawler, Yakuza, together with the legendary side-scrolling smasher, Streets of Rage. And while it’s true this free mini game is nothing more than a reskin of the Genesis classic, Streets of Rage 2, I’ve been blown away by how well both IPs complement one another.
This is a relatively basic prototype, right? One stage, on repeat, changing up the aesthetic but keeping the move sets and animations mostly the same. But it works really, really well.
In SoK, you get the choice of three characters. Series legends, Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima. You can also unlock new Yakuza protagonist, Ichiban Kasuga, and even play with a mate in local co-op.
To be honest, all three characters play mostly the same – with Kasuga seemingly using Blaze’s moveset, and both Kiryu and Majima playing simarily to Axel. The stage is also a whistle-stop tour of Kamurocho, told using the same structure and style of Streets of Rage 2’s opening level.
While it’s not really relevant in this case, narratively the game is based around the first Yakuza title, with a limited tie-in story to set up the chaos on the street. Narrative isn’t the key focus here as this has been created exclusively for Steam to celebrate SEGA’s 60th Anniversary. Which is pretty cool.
It feels immediately like home as you walk past arcades, see cycles chained to guard rails, and smack people upside the head with traffic cones. The beautiful aesthetic of the Yakuza games has translated wonderfully into a pixelated style.
It just works so, so well, and I hope this isn’t’ the last we see of this concept because SEGA have not just scratched an itch I now can’t stop thinking about, but they really have only scratched the surface of what’s possible here.
We all know how good Streets of Rage 4 turned out this year. It exceeded expectations and really rejuvenated an IP that hasn’t had a lot of love in a lot of years. The game deserves another follow-up and I cannot think of a more perfect way to bring it back than making a fun Yakuza crossover.
Yakuza games are no strangers to fun spin-offs and there’s certainly ways to link the narrative up. As long as the absolutely brilliant Lizardcube and Guard Crush Games get to be involved, this project could be something really special.
There’s a real game in this prototype and I hope SEGA give it the chance it deserves. For now, though, make sure to go download SoK before it disappears. You’ve only got until tomorrow!
Streets of Kamurocho is available on Steam until October 19th 2020