Disclaimer: These hands-on impressions were written with a code for the DLC provided to us. Publisher DotEmu has confirmed that the DLC is still being reviewed and won’t be available on Switch eShop for several days. We will keep you updated on when the DLC is available.
Streets of Rage 4 was one of last year’s sleeper hits — a long awaited sequel that had a moment in the spotlight, followed by a long period of support from a small but passionate group of fans. Browse any Twitter hashtags related to the game and you’ll find insane combo videos, glitch exhibitions, and general enthusiasm for the game. Fittingly, a new batch of DLC has just hit the game, called Mr. X Nightmare, which seems to be almost tailor made for these hardcore fans.
The DLC, which runs for $7.99, includes a couple of new additions, the most important of which are three new characters and a new Survival mode. First, however, I will mention that the update also includes free new content for everyone who owns the game, including a robust and welcomed training mode, an unbelievably difficult “Mania+” mode, color palette options, and a swathe of balance changes. So even if you do not purchase the DLC, now is a great time to dip back into the game!
If you do spring for the paid DLC, however, you won’t be disappointed. The three new characters are new in terms of playability, but each one is a boss character. Estel Aguirre, one of the game’s breakout characters, is a rough and tumble cop whose move set features lots of drop kicks, grenades, and an always hype side special move that tackles an enemy, allowing you to mash the attack button to beat the daylights out of them. It feels like Ralf Jones’s Bareback Vulcan Punch from King of Fighters, which is *chef’s kiss*. You also get Shiva, a recurring boss from the series who feels like a ninja. His playstyle leans heavily on air combos and dashing around. He feels like he was made for Twitter combo videos and is a ton of fun to play. Finally, series favorite Max Thunder makes a return. The massive pro wrestler is incredibly slow, but his huge throws and heavy attacks make up for it. Just like the base game’s cast, these three characters feel great to play, and each one’s playstyle feels totally unique from one another. If you powered through the game and just want a new way to play through the campaign, these three characters are worth the price of admission alone.
Luckily, the characters aren’t the only new addition. Even more exciting is the new Survival mode. I tend to not care too much about survival modes in most video games, as it’s usually nothing more than a parade of enemies/matches until you lose, but the developers have gone above and beyond with this mode.
There are two ways to play: Random Sim and Weekly Sim. The Weekly Sim is a lineup of specific stages that change weekly, while the Random Sim throws you random rooms with random enemies, which can lead to chaos. When you clear a stage, you are offered the choice between some power-ups. These range from giving you a limited use golden weapon that obliterates enemies to adding elemental aspects to your attacks. Some power-ups fundamentally change your playstyle, such as reducing the health cost of using specials at the price of not being able to recover that health by attacking. This is where the Survival mode shines, and it ends up feeling more like a roguelike, with shades of Hades or The Binding of Isaac.
Each run will be completely different due to the enemies that spawn, the power-ups you receive, and the arenas you fight in. Some can be straight up madness, like fighting several bosses in an arena with a swinging pendulum and a giant pit. One of my only complaints is that when playing with another player, only one person gets a reward at the end of the stage. Maybe it would make things too easy if each player got a reward each time, but the unspoken debate about who gets what when you beat a stage with a random player online can be quite awkward. Playing Survival mode also earns your character experience points, which can unlock new moves for that character. It’s a great addition that lets you find whole new ways to play your favorite characters. Overall, the mode is a blast, and if you have friends who play the game, or can play locally, it might be even more fun than the actual campaign mode.
Mr. X Nightmare is a great addition to a great game at a perfectly reasonable price. I would have loved to see some new levels or bosses to the campaign, but so much love and attention was poured into the Survival mode that I can’t complain too much. All three new characters fit their own mold and the new moves mean even the old cast feels new again. This DLC, from the super-hard Mania+ mode to the insanity the Survival mode becomes in later stages, feels like it’s made especially for those hardcore fans, but if you enjoyed the game at all before, there’s even more to love here.