Imagine a game: you're running down an alleyway, through a pile of garbage just to mess with the physics objects, sneakers splashing water was you run through a puddle. Its pretty cool looking; about as detailed and well rendered as Yakuza Zero or Sleeping Dogs, but with something more stylized about it. There's something about the color of the lighting that's more vibrant, something about the characters that's more... larger than life. He's not a gross monster like Street Fighter V's horrid cast, but he is more proportionally "solid" than a totally realistic guy. He's sporting a cool hair style with bangs perfect framing his face. He's somehow just a more exciting looking character, like somehow pulled from a fighting game. Almost like controlling Terry Bogard or Rock Howard. Its dark in the alley, but not gritty, and those colorful lights peaking in from the next block bounce some welcome colors into the alleyway.

You emerge from the alleyway into street proper, and the bright lights are from the numerous storefronts that line the block. They're illuminating hordes of teenagers running around looting & brawling. Its a gang war, but a vibrant one, there's different colored clothes and different ethnicities, people with mohawks, and chains, spiked shoulder pads. Your character is wearing jeans and a t-shirt, looking bland by comparison, save for some knuckle gloves and a headband. You're Axel, but you hit L2 to switch to Eddie "Skate" Hunter as soon as dozens of gang members start heading your way - Skate's got his Musou move charged up.

With his bar filled up, and purple sparks swirling around him, and gang members quickly surrounding you, you hit Circle to trigger a cinematic, powerful move. The world turns black and the enemies freeze in place, then Skate turns his red cap backwards and unleashes his energy. He starts breakin', kicks his legs around and drops to the ground, getting into a windmill. As he spins, a huge tornado gets kicked up, and heads off towards the gang members down the street. Damage numbers pop onto the screen as it sweeps dozens of them up, not to mention trash and street signs and cars, and then flings them about the block as Skate gets back up and flashes a toothy grin and gives a thumbs up to the camera. As the blackness subsides, and the move ends, the camera smoothly re-centers behind Skate as it returns control to the player. All the while, Yuzo Koshiro beats pump out of the speakers. You tap L2 again to switch to Blaze. You pick up a baseball bat lying on the street nearby, then run down the brightly lit street into the crowd of colorful goons to go bust some skulls.

This could be the new Streets of Rage, Sega.

imagine it. "Bare Knuckle Musou" in Japan, or Streets of Rage Warriors outside the country. Produced by Sega, and developed by Omega Force. Coming to Playstation 4, Steam and Xbox One from the modern masters of arcadey brawling. Heck, they're nearly the only studio who even does it anymore (them and Tamsoft, of HyperDimension U: Action Unleashed and Onechanbara fame), even if their track record is a bit hit or miss with their Warriors games, and the sister series, the Heroes games (which are full action-RPGs that borrow their combat basics from the Warriors titles). Still, when given a great license - One Piece, Zelda, Dragon Quest - the Musou design tends to sing. 

Seriously, Koei Tecmo's Omega Force studio has worked with so many outside developers. Bandai Namco for One Piece, Square Enix for Dragon Quest Heroes, Nintendo for Zelda... why hasn't Sega thrown one of their old brawler IPs at them for a reboot? Their PS2 Altered Beast was miserable, and their PS3 Golden Axe was a massive miss. They didn't even go through with the Xbox 360 Streets of Rage (pitched to them by Crackdown 2's Ruffian Games. Granted, it did look like just another miss - a Final Fight Streetwise-esque exercise in "missing the point". Doomed to crumble underneath a desperate attempt to bury Streets of Rage in grit where, previously, there was colorful 80's and 90's style goofy fun. Streets of Rage was far more the 1990 TMNT movie (sans actors in animatronic Turtle suits, of course), or Miami Connection, than it was the Warriors, much less Boyz 'n the Hood or South Central. Its clear Ruffian games wasn't going after the right tone here, and puts out something that's confused. Its got some nods to the era SoR was born into, before ultimately deciding it wants to be gritty. Going so far as to literally destroy and leave behind that spirit in the beginning of this video:

watch?v=JtOIdgP7U44

 

Yeah, not greenlighting this was the right move, Sega. Ruffian almost seems ashamed of making a brawler, and mocked up something that was lightyears away from Streets of Rage in tone. Or heck, Yakuza, which is a lot closer to where it needs to be, and revels in finding the goofy fun of that kind of nonsensical fighting action set in city. Still, Streets of Rage needs not stay buried. Just needs the right studio is all.  

You know who has no qualms with celebrating goofy style and over-the-top flair? Omega Force. You know who crushes vibrant, stylized visuals with their large scale brawling combat? Omega Force. You know clearly has fun making these types of games, resulting in games that are in turn fun to play? Omega Force. We've seen SEGA's old IP return as bland 3D brawlers in the past, and Final Fight for that matter (I'm dragging you under the bus too, Streetwise!). We don't need that. We need Musou. 

If they're serious about reviving old IPs in fresh, new ways, its time to go to work and make partnerships like these. Get people who can make good versions of what these games were and need to be to make those games. Its like LucasArts of the early 00's; they needed a Star Wars RPG, they went to Bioware because they know how to make RPGs. They needed flight combat? They went to Factor 5. They needed first and third person shooting? Went to Raven Software. There are studios who can make awesome new games for Sega, and have been making awesome new Sega games for awhile now. That is to say, they're modern games that contain everything that ever made a Sega game notable - they have the fun and the flash, they have the catchy music, they have the great art, and the addicting gameplay. There's studios who grew up with that attitude, and they get it, and they make games with it. And everyone knows it except the people at Sega who could make these partnerships happen :/

In a perfect world, Streets of Rage Warriors would follow on the heels of Outrun 3 by Sumo Digital, a wonderfully received Last Bronx reboot by Arika built on their EX Fighting Layer engine, and new amazing 2D Gunstar Heroes & Pulseman titles from GalaxyTrail and Wayforward. Everyone is now looking forward to the next Skies of Arcadia by Level 5, and the next Phantasy Star from Atlus. Rumor has it, they're even going to announce either a Shinobi or Vectorman reboot by Platinum Games at E3, and From Software fans online have noticed some of their animators have mentioned work on a new Altered Beast on their resume. I want to live in that World, Sega :)