Side-scrolling beat ‘em up games like Streets of Rage, were supposed to be a thing of the past. Relics from history that had no resonance with today’s gaming audience. However, these sentiments could not be farther from the truth. Street of Rage 4, the direct sequel to 1994’s Streets of Rage 3, was both a critical and commercial hit. So much so that it resulted in a physical release of the game and the Mr. X Nightmare DLC. Luckily, that same passion that drove Streets of Rage 4’s success carries on in its first official DLC.
The Mr. X Nightmare DLC picks up right after Streets of Rage 4. Once again, the fight continues in Wood Oak City. To prepare for future threats, Axel, Stone, Blaze, and the other heroes start a unique and deranged training simulation with the help of Dr. Zan.
The scientist built an AI program from the remains of Mr. X’s brain that simulates every kind of danger the heroes will face. In other words, the training simulation is the game’s survival mode. The way the Mr. X Nightmare DLC ties in the Streets of Rage 4 storyline into a survival mode is simple, yet smart. It concludes the conflict of the main game, while also provides grounds for a new storyline to emerge in a potential sequel.
Mr. X Nightmare Survival Mode
The survival mode is your run-of-the-mill affair. Players fight through an infinite number of randomly generated levels and only have one life to spare. Some of the levels have traps like electric fences and swinging axes that dish out pain to you and enemies alike. However, some of the traps in CRT graphic levels seemed disproportionately larger when compared to the level’s area. This made avoiding traps in these types of levels tricky at times.
Completing a level rewards you with your choice of a perk. This includes perks such as attack and defense buffs, heal on attacks, reduction in special move costs, etc… However, some of the perks come at a cost as well. For instance, you can gain health from attacking enemies, but healing items won’t affect you anymore. These decisions add weight to your choices. It reminded me of mechanics found in popular roguelike titles like the keepsakes in Hades.
The longer you last in survival with a character unlocks their alternative moves, which can be used in any game mode in Streets of Rage 4. Survival mode also comes with weekly challenges to help incentivize you to play. It helps keep things fresh in the long run. Given how the developers have supported the game already, expect them to treat fans well in the DLC too.
In addition, players can also unlock artwork packs and weapon packs for the training mode. Defeating an enemy will also unlock them as a sparring partner in Free Training Mode. These additions might seem minute, but they add replayability. They also encourage trying out each and every character in survival mode. The DLC also expands the hero roster as well.
Three New Playable Characters
The Mr. X Nightmare DLC also provides access to three new playable characters. The martial artist Shiva, pro-wrestler Max Thunder, and special forces operative Estel Aguirre. Each has his or her own unique fighting styles and combos. Their distinctiveness complements the current roster of heroes.
Max Thunder is a behemoth. His towering and wide stature reminds me of Mike Haggar from Final Fight. Since Max is a pro-wrestler, his move sets include a lot of dropkicks, grapples, and off-the-top rope antics. Since subtlety is never a strong suit of the genre, Max uses thunder effects in his special attacks.
Shiva is the charismatic Kenpō master, whose time has come to repent. He is ready to leave the Syndicate for good. Shiva was Axel Stone’s former rival, but now he is determined to make a difference in the Mr. X Nightmare simulation. He is lightning quick and graceful in his attacks. He reminds me a lot of Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat. Shiva also uses shadow attacks to create copies of himself during combos.
Officer Estel Aguirre is the third playable character. She previously appeared as a boss in Streets of Rage 4. She is tactical and relies on substance more than style for her attacks. Estel is also well equipped. She readily throws smoke grenades as a special attack.
Personally, I found Shiva the most enjoyable new character. His speed and fighting style spoke to me. It was easier for me to get longer combo streaks with Shiva than the other new characters. It was also a relief that he couldn’t grab weapons and use them like other characters. Instead, when you “grab” a weapon, Shiva will pelt the weapon in front of him and hit whoever was standing in the way. It saved me so many times and overall, the character was a joy to play with.
New Moves, Weapons, Customization, and Music
The Mr. X Nightmare DLC also adds to new moves and animations for the current crop of heroes. It is a welcome addition and goes to show how the developers take fan feedback seriously. The DLC also features new devastating and whacky weapons. Everything from bowling balls to swordfish and electric eels makes the cut. Some of the weapons add status effect damage like electric or fire. This truly adds breadth to the weapon choices available in Streets of Rage 4.
In addition to the new DLC, Streets of Rage 4 players will get a free update that includes a New Mania+ difficulty, a more “in-depth training system” and color palette swap options for the game’s roster of heroes. The latter is a minor change but helps spruce up the characters a little bit.
Speaking of sprucing up, the Mr. X Nightmare DLC continues the game’s musical pedigree. Composer Tee Lopes lays down new tracks for the DLC. Lopes is an industry veteran whose work has been featured in games like Sonic Mania, League of Legends, and Monster and the Cursed Kingdom. Once again, the tracks are faithful to the franchise’s original score but still remain lively and upbeat. However, there were some strange audio glitches that would have sudden changes in volume levels. These instances were few and far apart, but worth noting.
Final Thoughts on Mr. X Nightmare DLC
Streets of Rage 4’s Mr. X Nightmare DLC continues the love letter to side-scrolling beat ‘em ups. For a modest price, you are getting a lot of cool content that will satiate your co-op beat ’em up fix. The different upgrade paths, unlock rewards, and weekly challenges will keep survival mode fresh for some time to come. The three new characters are unique and complement the current crop of heroes well. They undoubtedly open new avenues for players to experiment with that will add replayability.
Streets of Rage 4 Mr. X Nightmare DLC retails for $7.99 and is available now on Steam, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One.
Be sure to check out LOGNET’s interview with the Technical Director of Streets of Rage 4 here.