22: Streets of Rage II
Format: Mega Drive
Another case of a single game influencing my love of a genre, my fondness for scrolling beat-‘em-ups can be tracked straight back to this walk-and-puncher. Taking one of four fighters across a crime-riddled city, from dive bars through an arcade to a baseball stadium, and then onto a ship and finally an Evil Lair island, it’s an atmospheric and, at times, deadpan silly tale (witness the fat guys who can breathe fire, or the level 4 boss who just is then-popular wrestler the Ultimate Warrior – seriously, they didn’t even try to disguise it). Its constant invention and surprisingly deep range of moves are what make it better than any other pretender in its sub-genre, and I’m including modern-day incarnations like God of War and Bayonetta there.
MAGIC MOMENT: the score by Yuzo Koshiro is fantastic from beginning to end, but the end credits tune is the real highlight. One of the best ditties composed for a game.