I am very happy to let you guys and girls know that I/we got a chance to do an interview with Lizardcube, Dotemu and Guard Crush Games about their upcoming beat-em-up game “Streets of Rage 4“. Especially so since I’ve been a fan of “Streets of Rage” since the very first game launched to the Mega Drive back in 1991. Furthermore, I (like many others) have waited a very long time for a “Streets of Rage 4” game to happen.

Well, as you might remember, Dotemu dropped the reveal trailer for SOR 4 back in August of this year (2018). So I think it’s safe to say that the excitement, hype and happiness among SOR fans have been very high since then. That’s also why I hope that SOR fans all over the world will enjoy our SOR 4 interview =)

So with that said, please enjoy!

streets of rage 4 the logo

SOR fans all over the world has waited many, MANY years for “Streets of Rage 4” to happen. Well, the wait will soon be over (thanks to Lizardcube, Dotemu and Guard Crush Games).

Robin TGG
This is a very big and exciting moment for me, because I’ve grown up playing the SOR series. Furthermore, I have been waiting for a sequel to SOR 3 for many, many years now. So with that said, please go ahead and introduce yourself to our readers =)

Ben:
Hello Robin, my name is Ben Fiquet. I’m Art/Creative Director at Lizardcube. I’ve been working in animation, comics and video games for 13 years. I’m a Sega kid all the way, especially attached to the Megadrive/Genesis which is very dear to my heart, and obviously the Streets of Rage series.

Jordi:
Hi, I’m Jordi Asensio, Game designer at Dotemu. I’m a big fan of the Streets of Rage series and beat ‘em ups. I’ve been working in the game industry for more than 10 years. Like so many others, I’ve been waiting for a sequel to SOR3 for many years, and I’m really proud and excited about being a part of the team that will finally bring it.

Cyrille:
Hi, I’m Cyrille Lagarigue, president and main programmer at Guard Crush Games. I have been a programmer and game designer in the industry for more than 10 years. I love action games, and I love making games with tight controls. So right now, “Streets of Rage 4” is the most important project of my life. So I really hope that you will like it!

streets of rage 4 axel stone is ready to drop some bombs

“Streets of Rage 4” is like a mix of the old and new, as SOR4 has taken the spirit of the old SOR games and mixed it up with the graphics from “Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap” (I find SOR4 to look really good so far).

Robin TGG
I’m not quite sure about what you’re allowed to say about the SOR 4 project, but could you perhaps us a short breakdown what the SOR 4 project is all about? (there’s so many rumors going around right now, so I hope that we can set the record straight with this interview).

Ben:
Well, it’s pretty simple: Streets of Rage 4 is the new episode of the Streets of Rage series. It is currently being published by Dotemu and is developed by three studios: Lizardcube for the art direction, Guard Crush Games for the programming, and Dotemu for the game design.

It’s a brand new and official game in the series which has been dormant for way too many years.

Cyrille:
As Ben said it, we are making a new episode in the series! We try to be faithful to the legacy of this amazing franchise, while pushing the envelope on the technical, graphical and gameplay sides.

streets of rage 4 blaze fielding kicks tons of ass once again

Yep, Blaze Fielding is back and ready to kick all sorts of serious ass in “Streets of Rage 4” (in SOR 4 she’s in her 30s).

Robin TGG
How did the SOR4 project come to be exactly? (how, when, where and why) I mean, how did Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games, Dotemu and SEGA partner up for SOR 4?

Ben:
After finishing up Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap, I started drawing sketches of licenses that we could do next, and obviously, as a Sega fan, Streets of Rage was on top of my list. As it happens, Dotemu was definitely thinking about it as well, and we talked about it over a beer.

Jordi who’s working as game designer at Dotemu got together with Cyrille Lagarigue from Guard Crush Games. As they have been developing a beat them up and a dedicated engine for almost 10 years, and they have a great knowledge of the genre.

So, we started working on the idea with Dotemu and Guard Crush Games and prepared a presentation with design ideas, artworks, animations, and so on. We finally went to SEGA and showed them what we wanted to do. SEGA really liked the idea and long story short, they said yes!

It’s still amazing in itself, but we built a great relationship with SEGA since Wonder Boy, and naturally they were more inclined to listen to us.

streets of rage 3

It’s pretty unreal that “Streets of Rage 3” launched back in 1994 for the Mega Drive (that was over 24 years ago!), because for me, it feels like SOR 3 was released just yesterday.

Robin TGG
Do you have any idea why it’s taken SEGA such a long time to get the ball rolling with SOR 4? Because the SOR fans have been asking for SOR 4 for a very long time (that’s also why the SOR Remake project was born). So my question is very simple, why now?

Ben:
We can’t answer on behalf of SEGA, but I think that the project that we presented them was good and made sense, and so does the team behind it. With Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s, Lizardcube proved how much care and craft we could put in reviving old games. On the other hand, Dotemu has a great track record when it comes to work on old licences, and we showed that directly to SEGA with that game as well.

Finally, Guard Crush Games are experts in the beat them up genre, and that is important when you’re making a new Streets of Rage game.

Jordi:
I can only guess but you can find several SOR4 prototype videos, and they are often very far away from what we think a SOR game must feel like. So when we made a proposition to SEGA, we were really focused on making a game that you can see and say: “oh yeah that’s Streets of Rage!”

Cyrille:
I also think that the timing is just right. The success of Sonic Mania showed that SEGA could trust a passionate team of external developers that already proved that they were capable with the genre, and give them one of their main license.

streets of rage 4 axel stone vs some punks

SOR 4 takes place ten years after the events that went down in SOR 3. So that means that both Axel and Blaze are in their thirties.

Robin TGG
How’s the vibes within the SOR 4 development team right now? (are you excited, thrilled and so on) And how has the feedback been from fans, the game community and games media been since the release of the first SOR 4 trailer? (bad, good, mixed?).

Jordi:
Obviously, we’re very excited and as we’re all big SOR fans. We’re on the same page when it comes to make the right decision for the game. Feedbacks from people and journalists who have played the PAX demo are great. As they are loving the gameplay changes and the overall feeling of the game. Of course, we can feel the pressure growing but the good feedback we had are reassuring. Lots of fans are benevolent, and we won’t let them down!

Ben:
The response has been amazing so far. I mean, the reveal took everybody by surprise. Fans and newcomers are eager to see more. Of course, there has been few mixed viewpoint from hardcore fans but in the same time, the trailer was really short in terms of gameplay and we can’t wait to show them what the game will ultimately be. The dev team is moving steadily forward, and there is a great and fun relationship between everyone, especially since the good vibes we received after revealing the game.

Cyrille:
We are very enthusiastic, and we have one goal: to focus on the game’s development. Given the game’s reception so far and the player’s response, we know that we have something special here. So we’re concentrating and focusing on making the best game possible. We get along very well in the team, and there are so many talents that are really complementary, working on a project like this one does not occur many times in a lifetime, so we try to make the most out of it.

streets of rage 1 and streets of rage 2

I grew up playing “Streets of Rage 1” (SOR 1 was released back in 1991 for the Mega Drive) and “Streets of Rage 2” (SOR 2 dropped for the Mega Drive back in 1992). So I got a lot of childhood memories from the first two SOR games (I was a late teen when I picked up SOR 3).

Robin TGG
What’s your own history with the SOR series? And what has been your greatest source for inspiration for SOR 4? (besides the obvious SOR series itself).

Jordi:
I still remember the day I played SOR2 at a friend’s house. That day was my first time playing Sonic 2 and Final Fight CD too (what a day!). I instantly loved SOR2 and we kept coming back to it. I never really stopped playing that game. So when I became a game developer, I instantly tried to make a beat ‘em up. I’ve played so many of them, even obscure ones… Besides SOR, Dungeons&Dragons Shadow over Mystara and Guardian Heroes are my favorites. They really took the genre very far with lots of great ideas and top notch production value. I secretly hope the golden age of beat ‘em up comes back.

Ben:
Since I was living in the countryside, video games were a go to for escaping in fantasy worlds. The fights, the style, the neon signs of Streets of Rage were an amazing transgression for me. I don’t remember when I bought SOR2 but I remember breaking a controller spending countless hours on the game.

For SOR4, the art inspirations are very wide, and that includes everything from the Capcom games and their amazing artists and animations to the more recent Scott Pilgrim video game. Furthermore, SOR 4’s art inspirations also come from fine arts or comics and movies.

Cyrille:
I have to confess I was a Nintendo kid. However, I played a lot of “Beyond Oasis” (made by Ancient) on my cousins Genesis, and I were fascinated by this game. Streets of Rage and Beyond Oasis have in common that they have an incredible atmosphere. Working on SOR4 and analyzing SOR2, I realised how superior this game was to other beat’em ups.

yuzo koshiro and motohiro kawashima

Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima have made a lot of awesome music over the years. So it would be awesome if they could make the soundtrack for “SOR 4” together (the picture has been borrowed from sonar.es).

Robin TGG
Will Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima have anything to do with SOR 4’s soundtrack? If no, then who’s making the music for the game? (imo, you should ask MegaDriver from Brazil for some tracks, because his really talented, and his also a huge fan of SOR).  

Jordi :
We aren’t commenting on specifics right now but there will be more details revealed on the soundtrack soon. We know the soundtrack to the original Streets of Rage games were important to the overall world’s feel, and we hope to deliver a soundtrack worthy of the fans! For us, the soundtrack is as much important as the graphics or the gameplay, and we take it really seriously. So please stay tuned, because the OST will have it’s own announcements in the future.

streets of rage 4 axel stone and blaze fielding vs some punks

SOR 4 is said to offer classic SOR gameplay enhanced with brand new mechanics. However, it’s yet to be seen if there will be a co-op, online and one Vs one mode (I take it that the co-op mode is nailed down though, considering that both Axel and Blaze are kicking tons of ass together in this picture).

Robin TGG
It’s already known that the graphics and visuals of SOR 4 will be done by the team behind the “Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap remake”. However, what’s not known (at least not to my knowledge) is why you went with that visual style for SOR 4? I mean, don’t get me wrong.

I really love the visuals from the remake of WB III, but I’m still curious to know why you went with that visual style for SOR 4? And was there ever any other plans for SOR 4 in terms of graphics and visuals? (for example, full 3D graphics, or retro-like graphics like the old SOR games).

Ben:
It’s a mix of various influences. It comes from my background as an animator and comic artist. There are a lot of possibilities when contemplating the wide range of style 2D is offering.
Before making a presentation to SEGA with Dotemu, I spend months making concept art in different directions. What I ended up with is what I believe represents best what the game is to supposed to be.

I really like pixel art, but I don’t think that what this project needed. I really believe traditional animation brings way more life than any other techniques and since the license has been asleep for so long, I wanted to make it live again. There is a lot more to show, and I hope fans and newcomers alike will appreciate it.

Technically speaking, we contemplated various techniques like having a mix of 2d and 3d, for example, but ultimately. We decided to stick to the original gameplay and 2d, even if we’re improving it to the 2018’s standards.

streets of rage 4 axel stone doing a from the side pose

I have been waiting a very long time to play as Axel Stone in a real sequel to “Streets of Rage 3”. Well, I and many others are soon going to get the chance to do so in SOR 4.

Robin TGG
Will SOR 4 be a mix of the best parts from SOR 1-3? Simply put, will players be able to play as the characters from the past? And use old + new attacks, combos and grips?

Jordi:
It’s too soon to tell anything, but we want to be generous in terms of content, so stay tuned.

Robin TGG
I’m aware that it might be too early on in the development process of SOR 4 for you to answer this question of mine, but SOR fans have been asking me to ask you about this…So, will there be any online, co-op and battle mode (player Vs Player in a one on one fight) in SOR 4?

Jordi:
We’re currently concentrating our efforts on the core of the game, so it’s definitely too soon to talk about this.

streets of rage 4 the evil snake lady

The “Streets of Rage 4” reveal trailer has over one million views and 21,000 likes as of today (2018-11-22). That’s very impressive with no doubt, but I am yet to find out who the evil snake lady from the reveal trailer is (I take it that she’s one of SOR 4’s bosses).

Robin TGG
Even though the “Streets of Rage 4” reveal trailer is less than one month old, it’s still very close to one million views. So I think it’s safe to say that there is a huge interest and hunger for the game. So I’m curious to know what thoughts that went through your mind when you guys and girls saw how fast the trailer’s popularity grew over time?

Ben:
My feeds went crazy, really. I knew that it would be a huge impact when we announced it out of the blue, but it was madness. To be honest, it can be quite overwhelming, but we’re trying to keep a cool head and carry on to deliver the vision we have.

Jordi:
It was crazy. I tried to read all the comments on Twitter and YouTube. So I didn’t sleep for two nights. So, yeah, it was just too much.

Cyrille:
I am not a big Twitter user, but when we released the trailer, my feed went crazy. It was a frenzy of comments. So we had reaction videos to watch, and so on… It was surreal to have such a big impact when you work for months in a small office in front of your computer.

streets of rage 4 blaze fielding character profile

No offense to Axel, but Blaze has aged a whole lot better than him (then again, I bet that Axel would look a lot younger if he shaved his beard). Anyways, Blaze is back in SOR 4, and she’s once again ready to kick a lot of ass.

Robin TGG
How comes that Axel looks so much older in SOR 4? (he even got a beard!) I mean, Blaze and Axel are the same age, and yet Blaze looks so much younger than Axel (perhaps Axel has lived a very hard life since SOR 3?). So that also makes me wonder when and where SOR 4 takes place? (I take it that SOR 4 takes place a couple of years after SOR 3?).

Ben:
The events of SOR4 takes place more or less 10 years after SOR3. Despite his beard and rugged look, Axel is honestly quite fit for his age, and Blaze is still a beautiful thirty something bad ass woman.

streets of rage 4 axel stone character profile

Axel Stone may not be as young as he was in SOR 3 (Axel is now in his 30s), but Axel still has what it takes to beat-up street punks and whatnot that come in his way.

Robin TGG
I take it that SOR 4 will be released to PC, PS4, Xbox One and the Switch, right?

Cyrille:
More will be revealed in terms of platforms later on.

streets of rage remake

The “streets of rage remake” fan project took over eight years to develop, and the game was released as a free title back in 2011 for PC. However, the project was soon put to a full stop when SEGA found out about SOR Remake.

Robin TGG
Have you ever played “Streets of Rage Remake”? If so, what’s your take on it? I’m asking this since I think that SOR Remake is THE best SOR game to date (I truly hope that SOR 4 will be able to top SOR Remake though).

Jordi:
Of course, I played it. It’s a tremendous work of love. We’re trying to get as much input as possible to make to the best game we can. SoR Remake and fan projects in general are definitely interesting prisms that make us understand how fans look at the former games. That said, we’re making a brand-new game in a modern gaming context, so our challenge is to make a game that stands for itself while staying true to its legacy.

Ben:
Yes, it’s amazing! Especially with all the options and the possibilities they are offering to the fans. Now that’s dedication.

Robin TGG
What’s your plans, hopes and expectations for the rest of this year?

Everybody:
We have a lot of things that we can’t wait to show everyone, but for now: work, work, work! So please, stay tuned!

tgg author avatar robin ek
Robin “V-Act” Ek
Editor in chief
The Gaming Ground
Twitter: @TheGamingGround

More by Robin Ek:

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