Streets of Rage 4 – Mr X Nightmare DLC — Is it worth it?
You know, I have some regrets in my life. Okay, maybe I got more than that if I’m being honest. But one of those regrets was never seeing again Streets of Rage 4 when it landed on PC in April of last year. But, to be honest, it was a game I wanted to take my time, soak up every detail, and revel in the masterful soundtrack. It was an almost perfect follow-up to one of my favorite Sega franchises, long in the making and paying homage to Streets of Rage 2 – a title that struggled to leave my top 10 favorite games of all time. What more can a former fan ask for? Well, the new characters are certainly not to be despised. And M. X Nightmare provides just that. For the only new characters, however, this first and possibly the only DLC for Streets of Rage 4 would have easily been worth it. But they are just the beginning.
There is a lot to like about Mr. X Nightmare. He adds three highly requested characters to the roster. Max Thunder and Shiva, themselves veterans of the series, are playable. They are joined by newcomer Estel Aguirre, a tough cop who has taken on the heroes of the main campaign, only to return once deep-rooted corruption in the police ranks has surfaced. The DLC would have looked solid with just these three coming into the fold. However, it does so much more, bringing unlockable weapons and moves, more music, and a new game mode.
A cop, ninja and professional wrestler walk into a bar
I was a fan of Estel during the main game, so naturally I started Mr. X Nightmare with her. She uses many of the same moves she did as a boss, but a few more have been included to complement her. Estel, like most of the characters, doesn’t have a dash. But she doesn’t have to run; she flies. Her blitz sees her dash forward with a flying kick, which can lead to a powerful boot drop while maintaining the attack, causing a pop up. Holding the special attack down while moving towards enemies, Estel jumps up and attacks her prey before ramming their face into the ground. When combined, Estel flies from start to finish, arguably controlling the game screen far better than Cherry could ever dream of.
And, of course, we have the return of the champions. Shiva and Max both debuted in Streets of Rage 2, to return to the recent sequel as a boss. Max was, however, brainwashed. But Shiva? Yeah, he was just Shiva. They both fit in as naturally as puzzle pieces in the cast and, like Estel, come with a few extra fancy moves.
I’m not generally a huge fan of the wrestling characters in this series. Like Floyd, Max is slow and a bit bulky, but can hit like a truck on the run. However, his new abilities in Mr. X Nightmare are actually quite fun. Max still plays pretty much like he did in 1992, with his grappling hooks, sliding kick, and shoulder load. His new moves include a lightning strike to the back (nice and thematic), which deals area-of-effect damage. Max’s aerial special sees him leap forward in an overwhelming body slam that’s incredibly satisfying to use. He can also use it to jump walls, perfect for a quick escape or to remind those knife-wielding Galsias behind him that they’re never safe. Already.
As much as I enjoyed Estel, I found myself using Shiva more than his DLC compatriots. The long-haired martial artist sees arguably the most changes in his toolbox compared to Max. Its special verse comes in two flavors. From a distance, using the special causes Shiva to travel a short distance and strike opponents with their feet. When near enemies and in the air, Shiva vanishes and reappears behind them, leaving them tottering with a flurry of punches too fast to be seen. Shiva will not use weapons either. While trying to pick one up, he throws it into the air and sends it flying with his palm. My man even says something akin to not needing a gun, because It is a weapon. Shiva is so ridiculously anime, and I love him.
Show new movements
For the most part, Dotemu and his team have been successful in making each new character fit comfortably into their comrades. They feel both similar and unique – an impressive feat with a game featuring so many playable heroes. However, I found myself rarely using Estel’s midair grenade throw. It was fine for taking out clustered enemies, but I didn’t find it useful enough to use it more than twice. Fortunately, if there are any moves you don’t like from a roster member, you can trade them in for new ones. But you have to earn them first.
Enter the new mode coming with Streets of Rage 4 – Mr. X Nightmare. Survival mode is pretty self-explanatory if you’ve been through something similar before. You have a life to survive against increasingly difficult, randomly generated coins with enemies, weapons, health drops, and dangers.
Between rooms, you get a choice of random upgrades that may increase your chances of living a little longer. Some buffs are pure buffs, like adding fire or lightning to attacks. Others offer perks with a caveat, like special moves costing less, but you can’t regain health by attacking. The mode continues endlessly until you die. And since it throws death traps, dozens of enemies, and bosses at you almost non-stop, it’s usually only a matter of time. The longer you survive, the more experience points you earn to unlock new moves for your chosen character.
Indeed, for those of you keen to play the new Streets of Rage 4 DLC, not sleep on Survival. The mode offers a staggering amount of unlocks, including new weapons and moves to use in every type of game. Honestly, I’m amazed at how much Mr. X Nightmare is adding via Survival mode. Each character has movements to unlock. Yes, each character, including retro variants.
No, I’m not kidding. The developers have created brand new moves for all the characters through Streets of rage story, which means they’ve designed more character animations for around 30 years. There are nearly 50 new moves to unlock: five for modern characters, four for those from Streets of Rage 2 and 3, and one for the original Streets to throw. Of course, slapping a Big Ben with a swordfish is cool. But sending it flying with SoR 2 Axel’s flying knee attack that he had never had before? Kiss from the head.
It helps that Survival mode is quite enjoyable overall. I put in a good number of hours during the preview, and I can’t wait to play a little more and unlock as many moves as possible. If you don’t want to go it alone, you can play couch mode or online co-op. The challenge of bringing a friend, however, is that you can only get one upgrade per player. You have to figure out who needs what as you go. There’s a notable benefit to playing co-op with different characters, in that it looks like you’re gaining experience points even for the one you aren’t playing.
Who needs the content of the story?
If I have a complaint, it’s with the color palette options. The DLC lets you swap out color palettes for modern characters, and not all of them are so impressive. However, I dig Adam Hunter all black. Another issue I had was that the enemy sparks and death noises for DLC characters were the retro versions, meant for classic characters. However, I think it was more of a bug, and I won’t be surprised if it gets fixed right away.
But even if I had more gripes, they would be drowned out by the immense amount of additional gameplay that this DLC brings to the table. I put almost 30 hours into the base game, and I can see M. X Nightmare doubling that down for me. And for the low cost of $ 7.99 USD, you should definitely get what you pay for.
The Streets of Rage 4 – The Mr X Nightmare DLC is spectacular and well worth the price of admission. Whether you’ve been waiting to come back to the game or are planning to give it a try, there’s never been a better time to jump in and take to the streets.
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