Streets of Rage 2 – The Retro Rumble Revisited

Streets of Rage 2 – Axel Dragon WingThere’s been something of an ethical dilemma that’s been battling in my brain. Are video games moral? Is it nothing more than a waste of time? If so, wouldn’t it be sinful for developers to create such games and to profit from them? Is this profession nothing more than assuming the role of a digital drug dealer, where the youth are compelled to play again and again? Fortunately, games like Streets of Rage 2 remind me that video games can be good.

It does seem counterintuitive. Streets of Rage 2 is a side-scrolling beat-em up game. How could mindlessly mashing the punch button merit any praise? The genre was done to death back in the early 90s. Having already played the game many times before, I wasn’t expecting much from the recent iOS update. Streets of Rage 2 took up storage space on my phone for many years. It largely went unplayed. It even stopped working completely since iOS 11. Five years after the iOS 6 update, Sega finally got around to updating the game.

At first, I wasn’t pleased with the update. The “Restore Purchases” option wasn’t working. It wasn’t clear if I would have to buy the game again. Considering how many quarters I chucked into arcade games, paying another $1.99 for Streets of Rage 2 wouldn’t exactly break the bank. And yet, I didn’t do it. I simply deleted the app.

One of my favorite hobbies was deteriorating. I was feeling disappointed with all the games I had played before. Did I waste my youth? What could have I accomplished in life I wasn’t playing video games? This line of thinking has been bothering me for the past few years.

My perspective started to change by not playing video games. Instead of playing games, I was watching them. The speedrunning scene has recently exploded in popularity. Years ago, it seemed so alien to me. Why would anyone want to watch someone play a video game? Games Done Quick (GDQ) is an excellent reason. I thought I was pretty good at video games, but these players are on another level. “Anthopants” played Streets of Rage 2 to near perfection. At Summer Games Done Quick 2018, he beat the game on Mania in less than 52 minutes. It was entertaining and informative to watch.

What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to live a good life? Everyone has talent. How do we fully use it? I saw a bunch of people sitting around and playing video games — but they were raising millions of dollars for charity. Is that not a life lived fulfilled?

Max – Dash Attack
I used to think Max was one of the bad characters in Streets of Rage 2. After watching the speedrun, obviously my opinion has changed.

I also learned about “TASBot”, which is short for “Tool Assisted Speedrun Robot”. Instead of a human at the controller, a computer does the job instead. No matter how good a person can play, it can never be as good as a robot. The difference is uncanny. The reaction times are physically impossible for a human to match. If people can’t play perfectly through the gaming world, doesn’t that understanding apply to the real world? It’s important to pursue and achieve lofty goals, but it’s also important to relax and have fun too. It is natural for humans to strive for perfection, but can we ever reach it?

Let’s get back to Streets of Rage 2…