You read that right; this review is really three reviews in one. Why would I choose to go this never before traveled route? Well, all three of these Sega ports suffer from, and excel with, the exact same issues. These are the very same things that have come with Segas previous Genesis to iPhone ports, and arguably, you could fold all the past reviews Ive written (Gunstar Heroes, Shinobi III, Golden Axe, Streets of Rage, etc.) into this one as well. Lets get started, shall we?
We will tackle Golden Axe 2 first. This medieval beat em up and arcade to Genesis port was fairly successful back in the day, spurring groups of four to both the brick and mortar arcades and home consoles. But what was then an amazing, addictive title is now a game that is showing its age. Character movement is too slow, enemies are the same handful with palette swaps through the whole game and the whole thing feels like a chore to play. It is worth noting that Golden Axe 3 went live on the App Store this week, though it isnt much better than this sequel.
Streets of Rage 2, on the other hand, is a massive improvement on the first game. The beat em up gameplay was sped up, a dash move was added and the now familiar special moves drain HP system was introduced. Streets of Rage 3 carried over all of 2s improvements, and improved upon them by adding cutscenes, a better story, even faster gameplay and much, much improved graphics. Both titles are showing their age, but are as fun and playable as you remember.
This brings us to what these three games, two good and one not so good, have in common. At first glance, all three games seem like faithful ports of the originals, but the now famous Sega touch screen control scheme hampers each and every one of them. Players have two choices: Transparent buttons and a d-pad that too often overlaps the action, or a shrunken game screen with a HUD taking up about a third of the total screen area. Neither option is good. The overlapping buttons and d-pad almost ensure your fingers will block your view and get you killed, and the small screen is so microscopic that you wont be able to tell whats going on anyway. I would have thought complaints from fans would have spurred Sega to change their uniformly awful iOS control scheme, but they are sticking to their guns and releasing more and more legacy titles with this terrible interface.
Sega has, in porting these games, destroyed their legacy. Games like Shinobi III and Gunstar Heroes were good enough to shine through the awful controls, but Golden Axe 2, Streets of Rage 2 and Streets of Rage 3 cant do it. Sure, the price is right on all three (as low as .99 cents), but downloading them will only serve to tarnish your memories of how much fun you had with these back in the day.
Golden Axe 2 - 20%
Streets of Rage 2 - 40%
Streets of Rage 3 - 50%