Streets of Rage 4 is a fantastic throwback to the classic era of side-scrolling brawlers. While this revisit to one of the Sega Genesis’ most iconic franchises introduces a brand new look and revamped gameplay, its roots are firmly planted in the retro-era, making it a faithful sequel. SOR4 also includes some hidden easter eggs that take the references to the classic games. These include the original soundtracks and the entire cast of unlockable characters from the first three games, but there’s also another set of secrets that take the retro element even further.
Throughout the game, you’ll come across arcade cabinets for Bare Knuckle–the international title for the Streets of Rage series. While you may feel inclined to bash open these cabinets to receive some precious cash to score extra points, these are the gateway to hidden challenge stages that take you back to familiar locales from Streets of Rage 2. To access these stages, you’ll need to pick up a taser weapon and strike the arcade cabinet, taking you to a special battle that you’ll need to clear with only one life. For many reasons, however, this can be tough to pull off, so we’ve broken down how to find each cabinet and what sort of challenge you’ll face in each retro fight.
Stage 2: Police Precinct
Shortly after breaking out of jail, you’ll encounter a police officer wearing a black outfit named Barney. While you’ve beat down other cops, this one is the strongest. He’ll quickly use a grab to zap you with his taser, so keep your distance and strike him when he’s vulnerable to get him to drop it. Leave the taser on the ground and clear out the extra enemies before proceeding forward.
Once the fight is over, pick up the taser and walk forward until you see an open door, leading to an arcade cabinet. Use the taser on it to be transported to the first hidden stage. This encounter pits you against Jack, one of SOR4’s first mini-bosses. After defeating him, destroy the objects nearby to gain extra pick-up, including a star move. Proceed through the door to get transported back to the police precinct.
Stage 4: Old Pier
The next retro challenge is located in the middle section of the Old Pier stage. You’ll come across an arcade with a Bare Knuckle cabinet inside. However, you’ll need to clear out numerous foes, including elite police officers and average brawlers, to gain entry. This fight can be tough, even without trying to get into the arcade, as you’ll have to contend with multiple shield cops along with the return of Barney–who still loves to grab you for a quick zap from the taser. Remember, keep your distance and go in for quick strikes. Dodging attacks in this fight is especially important, which you can do by moving up and down the field away from the same plane that attacks are coming from.
Once that fight is done, you’ll get the prompt to proceed with the level by jumping from the pier. Instead of doing that, pick up the taser and head through the open door to the arcade. Walk over to the cabinet and use the taser to start the next challenge. This fight will pit you against Zamza, the claw wielding mini-boss from SOR2’s amusement park stage. The fight can be a tough one given his speed, along with his ability to attack on recovery, so stay on your toes and go in for quick strikes to take him down.
Stage 5: Underground
The next arcade cabinet in the Underground stage is in plain sight—unfortunately, it’s also one of the more challenging stages to unlock. Once you reach the bar after exiting the sewer, you’ll encounter street brawlers and bikers inside. As you progress through the room, you’ll see a Y. Signal enemy at the cabinet. But before you can make a beeline to the machine, you’ll jump immediately into a fight with a swarm of goons along with the elite biker Caramel–who will destroy a table revealing the taser upon her arrival. The challenge here is completing the fight without the cabinet taking any damage. One hit from either you or the enemies will destroy it, and you’ll need to restart the stage to try again. Once this fight starts, backtrack to the left keep the battle far away from the cabinet. Once the enemies are cleared out, track down the taser and use it on the cabinet to start the hidden stage.
This hidden battle will have you face off against Abadede, the hulking wrestler from SOR2 who challenges you to a brawl in a fight pit. Facing off against this boss can be tough, as he’s the most aggressive enemy you encounter up to this point. His charging attack is especially harmful, so remember to dodge his strikes by moving away from his line of attacks. Keep hitting him with your rapid strikes, and eventually you’ll take him down.
Stage 8: Art Gallery
The final hidden stage is the least stressful to find, yet it also leads to the hardest retro challenge you’ll come to face. In the backroom of the Art Gallery, just before facing off against the twin bosses Beyo and Riha, you’ll find the arcade cabinet right in front of you. However, the taser to activate it is well hidden. To find it, look towards the bottom of the screen to see a faint glint of an object. Walk over to it and pick it up to reveal the taser. Use it on the cabinet to start the final challenge stage.
Taking place in the final level of SOR2, this multi-stage fight pits you against common enemies, master martial-artist Shiva, and the head of the Syndicate himself: Mr. X. While the previous battles had you fight against single foes, you’ll be taking on common enemies along with elite bosses, making it an especially tricky fight. With only one life, you’ll need to show restraint and not be greedy with your attacks, as both Mr. X and Shiva can attack upon recovery and use counter-attacks if you get too close. The best way to defeat the enemies is to dodge attacks and strike when they finish their combo-strings. Keep a steady flow and rhythm with your strikes, and eventually you’ll clear out the enemies to earn yet another star power-up.
That does it for the retro stages. For more on Streets of Rage 4, including our full review when that goes live, check back with us at GameSpot.
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