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All the Rage - Streets of Steel Review

MB Updated February 25, 2021
 
3.5
 
0.0 (0)
2314 0
All the Rage- Streets of Steel Review

Game Information

Designer
Players
1 - 4
There Will Be Games

THEMES: Punching, kicking, walking, smashing mohawked dudes in the face with pipes

Ryan Lesser is a pretty interesting dude. In addition to designing board games, he’s a visual artist that has worked on the Guitar Hero and Rock Band franchises as well as with Shephard Fairey. He also makes knives and is in a metal band called, rather awesomely, Megasus. His first game released through Wild Power Games was High Heavens, an interesting skirmish game between Roman, Norse, and Egyptian pantheons with the kind of unusual mechanisms and mis-steps you see from first-time board game designers. But it was hardly a bad game and offered some unique charms. His second release is Streets of Steel, offered in two boxes (Rush n’ Scare and Kickin’ Asphalt) with a couple of optional miniature upgrades.

Now, I caught wind of Streets of Steel when TWBG alumni and occasional contributor Josh Look started talking about and at the time I was way deep into playing Streets of Rage 4 as well as the Capcom Beat ‘Em Bundle. All I wanted to do in video games was walk right, pick up a pipe, and bash some mohawk dude in the face with it. And then eat a turkey I found in the trash. And here was a board game that Josh specifically described as being a tabletop homage to these kinds of games, using one of the greatest mechanisms of all time – Thunder Road’s “Switch and Link” system where map tiles are used to generate a sense of endless forward movement. I had to check it out. So I contacted Ryan and he sent along both Streets of Steel boxes (as well as High Heavens) and I got to work on this game. 

First off, the art style and illustrations are right on the money- it all looks right out of a 1989 arcade brawler and the tone is dead on- including the fact that the baddies in Rush n’ Scare are, in fact, Soviet caricatures. And Kickin’ Asphalt did in fact provide me with the mohawk dude to bash in the face as well as the pipe to do it with. There’s all kinds of fun 80’s bullshit represented- fighters on rollerblades, butterfly knives, mutants, robots, kangaroo ninjas, an Amiga reference- Mr. Lesser knows this stuff, and it comes across as a game full of heart and verve. I absolutely love the 2D stand-up figures with the pixel art, so much so that I think the plastic miniatures are totally unnecessary.

The gameplay is fun, obnoxious, and by gum it does feel like Final Fight. You move around the street tiles, using three actions to move, attack, taunt, or do a super attack. There are some terrain matters to be concerned with, with rough terrain and hazards present as well a three figure stacking limit.  There are item crates to grab for when fists and feet aren’t enough to teach Kommandant Kimmitzar the American Way.

There are eight characters, four in each box, and I’m pleased that there are non-white, non-male characters. Each is differentiated by a couple of stats, most importantly the number of Punch, Kick, and Danger dice they get as well as their super attacks. The super attacks cost Wild Power tokens, which you get from taunting and also by beating up Baddies. The attack dice are divided out between Punch, Kick and Danger dice because Punch has more hits per die, Kick has more damage, and Danger is more unpredictable. Combat is a matter of just moving into a space and rolling to see if you can beat their Defense value.

But interestingly, moving is almost as significant as fighting. You have to keep moving right or else you drop off the screen, essentially, and you can almost imagine your hero flying up in the air and flashing in agony as the leftmost street tile is removed and a new one placed to the right. But moving through zones with Baddies can be dangerous- they get a Backstab attack (what we over in the D&D world call an “attack of opportunity”) as you pass by. And the stack limit can reduce your options to get off the tile that’s disappearing. The goal is really to get to the last street tile (out of 8) and beat the boss, and you’ve got to keep pushing forward to do so.

Enemy AI is card-controlled, nothing we haven’t seen before. They spawn on the street tiles, move, and sometimes interact with a Baddie Behavior card that modifies how they move and attack. It’s not a super-sophisticated system but hey, you know what, the AI in these games was pretty much just “move toward player, attack” anyway.

This is a fun play, but don’t expect it to Change The Way You View Board Games Forever or anything like that. It’s simple, dumb fun without pretense or astronomical ambitions. It’s super dice-y and I generally like that, but it also feels like it is a touch repetitive and it’s one of those games that just barely comes in under the “too long for what it is” bar. At 30 minutes, this is a corker. At 60 minutes, I’m wishing I just fired up Streets of Rage 4.

This is one of those games that comes across with scrappy charm and spirited delight rather than mechanical precision and dynamic depth. Meaning that it is exactly the kind of game that I want most these days. The concept is novel, with its only other competitor being the much more expensive and expansive Street Masters. And it’s a good looking, small press game. It’s one for the folks that get the joke that defeated players walk back on the board on their next turn, ignoring difficult terrain or hazards. This is a game for the Final Fighters, for the folks that see the four joystick arcade console on the box and wax nostalgic. So it’s scoring well with me on those points, although I could not reasonably defend this game as a “great” design or as something with universal appeal.


Editor reviews

1 reviews

Rating 
 
3.5
A loving homage to arcade beat ‘em ups with about the same depth.
MB
Top 10 Reviewer 137 reviews
Michael Barnes (He/Him)
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Sometime in the early 1980s, MichaelBarnes’ parents thought it would be a good idea to buy him a board game to keep him busy with some friends during one of those high-pressure, “free” timeshare vacations. It turned out to be a terrible idea, because the game was TSR’s Dungeon! - and the rest, as they say, is history. Michael has been involved with writing professionally about games since 2002, when he busked for store credit writing for Boulder Games’ newsletter. He has written for a number of international hobby gaming periodicals and popular Web sites. From 2004-2008, he was the co-owner of Atlanta Game Factory, a brick-and-mortar retail store. He is currently the co-founder of FortressAT.com and Nohighscores.com as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Miniature Market’s Review Corner feature. He is married with two childen and when he’s not playing some kind of game he enjoys stockpiling trivial information about music, comics and film.

Articles by Michael

Michael Barnes
Senior Board Game Reviews Editor

Articles by Michael

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Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #319773 26 Feb 2021 06:41
Be still my 'Burn Upper'ing heart. This is going to be one of those games I pay way too much to import. Side note- Streets of Rage 4 was so damn good. And now we have a new Ghosts n Goblins game as well. But where the hell is my tabletop take on Castlevania??
Ah_Pook's Avatar
Ah_Pook replied the topic: #319774 26 Feb 2021 07:04
Hit up Barnes' recent sale threads, he's selling his copy somewhere in there.
Andi Lennon's Avatar
Andi Lennon replied the topic: #319775 26 Feb 2021 07:09
Cool. It's actually available locally on pre-order for like $80AU plus postage :/ Just did a closer look and why oh why are the street tiles so bland? On this note, Michael, put some images in your reviews man!
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #319776 26 Feb 2021 09:05
Here's Yuzo Koshiro playing one of the most signature songs from Streets of Rage (Bare Knuckle, in Japan)

Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #319784 26 Feb 2021 10:03
This game is pure big dumb fun. It's not going to be for everyone, especially those looking for strategic decisions, but if you look at it and it speaks to your quarter-munching, Streets of Rage loving heart, it's impossible to not be charmed by it.

Ryan is one of my wife's friends and is a genuinely good dude.
MattFantastic's Avatar
MattFantastic replied the topic: #319824 27 Feb 2021 12:51
Ryan is pretty much the coolest. Megasus is awesome. I'm real proud of my minor rule suggestions that made it in warranting a special thanks in this one haha

Re: Castlevania... it's in licensing purgatory. Not as bad as what happened with Metal Gear, but very unlikely to come out as is. But if you're ever around my way I'd be happy to show you the prototype and get a game in...