Initial release date: July 15, 2021
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Composers: Yuzo Koshiro, Motohiro Kawashima, Yoko Shimomura, Olivier Deriviere, Harumi Fujita, Keiji Yamagishi
Developers: DotEmu, Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games
Publishers: DotEmu, Yooreka Studio (Greater China)
"Review Copy Provided By DotEmu"
Hands down the best beat-em up of 2020 was Streets of Rage 4 and it was the glorious return to form of the storied franchise that had been dormant for 26 years. The game came back with the mechanics of Streets of Rage 2 with significant improvements along with a new art style, new enemies, new characters to play as, and 4-Player local coop and 2-Player online coop. One of the most requested things from fans and newcomers was additional DLC to give them a reason to keep coming back outside of Story, Arcade, 1-on-1 battle, and survival mode; after over a year of silence post launch, the developers dropped a trailer of the DLC “Mr.X’s Nightmare Challenge” which not only brings 1 new playable character and 2 returning series characters but also new weapons, new moves, new balance changes, new modes, and all for a reasonable price. The question is does the DLC warrant the purchase or is it an utter let down? Let’s find out!
The DLC adds in previously playable characters Shiva and Max who both debuted in Streets of Rage 2 that both play the way they used to with a few new mechanics that bring them up to speed with the rest of the cast. The newest character to join the roster is none other than Estel who was (like Shiva previously) a boss turned playable character.
Each of the characters’ playstyles is incredibly different from one another for example Shiva is not only powerful but is also quick however he has a hard time with recovering from his Blitz attack leaving him wide open until he lands and he also is unable to wield a weapon due to his status as a devout warrior so if you attempt to pick up a weapon then Shiva will knock it in the air and straight in front of him towards an enemy. Shiva also doesn’t have the greatest jumping abilities in comparison to Axel or Adam which sometimes making juggling a challenge sometimes especially with his attack range with his combo starter.
Max Thunder comes back with every move he’s had before and has some thunder effects added to some of his moves such as his turning suplex. As the powerhouse of the crew, Max takes the least amount of damage and deals the most damage and is able to have some of the best crowd control with his charge attacks and standing and jumping specials.
Estel has my hands down favorite play style as she is not only powerful but insanely fast wit an excellent rush down playstyle. She has a charging shoulder tackle like spear that has Estelle mount the enemy allowing you to repeatedly press attack which will have her deliver a flurry of mounted punches. She also has her Terry Bogard like Crack Shoot Blitz Attack along with a Super Man style flying Punch. Her grab attack has her putting enemies in a headlock and either delivering punches to the dome or a slam. One of the things about Estelle is that she does take more damage than the other male characters but ultimately much less than Blaze or Cherry.
The newest mode: Mr. X’s Nightmare Challenge, has you selecting a character and going into a survival mode where you progress through increasingly more difficult challenges with enemies becoming progressively stronger. As you clear levels, you’ll be given an option to select one of several stat buffs such as adding the poison effect to your Blitz and Star attacks or adding an element to those attacks or weapons you pick up such as electricity or fire. There are even super powered weapons you can gain that deal a lot of damage. Other buffs you can get are walking speed increases, the ability to double jump, and even Star attacks not taking as much health to perform. There are also buffs that come with debuffs and ones such as “Glass Cannon” that allow you to do 100% more damage but also take 100% more damage. No matter what you choose, there’s a risk vs reward in what you decide to go with and what’s more is everything stacks.
Given that this is effectively a survival mode, you only get one life to clear levels and if you end up dying then it’s game over. To give you some longevity, there are breakable objects such as crates and more that give you not only money to raise your score but also food items to restore your health.
Clearing out more and more levels unlocks weapon packs giving new weapons that will appear in all the other modes. Other things that can be unlocked is the new moves that are available to each character which changes up the way every character plays and gives you an limitless amount of customization from adding new Blitz attacks and Star moves. As you clear more levels, you will gain more and more experience which unlocks more and more moves.
The Mr. X Nightmare Challenge can be played locally or with others online adding to the unlimited replayability. The new levels and music in the DLC are all top notch and it’s clearly showing that the teams that worked on the base game and DLC truly love this franchise because everything has tons of love and care put into it.
All in all, The Mr. X Nightmare Challenge DLC is one of the absolute best DLC’s to ever be released and for the price of admission and the metric ton of content added; You cannot find a better deal in gaming that adds unlimited replayabiliity to an already phenomenal game. This is one of the best DLC’s so make sure you get it!