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How Lizardcube Redesigned the Characters of Streets of Rage 4, Out April 30

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How Lizardcube Redesigned the Characters of Streets of Rage 4, Out April 30

The future of retro: redesigning the iconic characters from the original Streets of Rage.

Greetings, PS Blog. My name is Ben Fiquet and I’m the CEO of Lizardcube and the Art Director on Streets of Rage 4. It’s been a long journey but we’re finally here: Streets of Rage 4 comes out in a week! Everybody at Lizardcube, Dotemu and Guard Crush Games can’t wait for you to play it and try the various game modes and content we’ve created for this series revival. 

For today I’d like to share some insights regarding our redesign of Blaze and Adam, two of the series’ most iconic characters.

Streets of Rage 4 has 17 characters to choose from: 12 retro characters in all their pixel-art glory, and five iconic HD hand-drawn heroes. Blaze Fielding has appeared in every game since the series began, but with vastly different styling from game to game. It was obvious to us that she would be in Streets of Rage 4, but our challenge was how to render her for players in 2020?

I decided to start from what fans remember most, which is the original sprites. One of her “calling cards” is the color scheme: red, underlined by her miniskirt and tight top. It was important to keep these attributes, as they express not just the character herself but also the fond memories of many players around the globe.

So, I tried different things in my attempt to “get” the character. My point of view is that she’s a strong, independent woman — a cop and a professional dancer who’s not afraid to clean up the streets in a tight skirt.

I liked her jacket in the first episode, which gives her a more urban look, so I wanted to keep it — but in a more modern way.

Ultimately, what put me on the right track was returning to her idle pose, which would put her in action and help provide some rhythm to the shapes and contrasts.

The sixth one above is cool, but it’s a bit too aggressive. From all the references I gathered, there’s always something gentle about her face. Also, all the details I included were too complex for animating, which is important in terms of production. 

On a side note, as an animator I tend to design knowing that elements will look better when animated. For example: her elaborate belt will make a sweet motion when she moves.

Which brings us to the animation, which is very important to me and is also one of Lizardcube’s strengths.



Due to the technical limitations of the time, the original games didn’t have many frames. To bring the game forward to the present, I wanted as much fluidity and impact as possible. This proved very hard on the production, since each playable Streets of Rage 4 character has approximately 1,000 frames. Plus you have assorted enemies between 300/400 frames each. And everything is hand-drawn frame by frame in Photoshop.

For the special moves, I added more visual effects to increase the impact. This emphasizes that special action and it feels more rewarding to perform. It’s also a continuation of the character – Blaze’s style is more fluid, and using her natural blue FX with some lotus and mandala-type shapes gives her moves their own flavor.



I followed the same mindset when designing Adam. However, because he only appeared in the first episode, there was way less to work with. I tried keeping his shoulder pads, but to no avail — they felt too anchored to the 80s. So I explored other directions… The glasses make him look more mysterious, and sort of remind me of the look of the old sprite, where his eyes are barely noticeable.  



Finally, after various attempts to show him wearing a jacket like a PI or a detective, here he is. The same, yet not the same.

Designing Adam

Adam from the first Streets of Rage didn’t have many moves, so we had to iterate what we thought would be a good fit for him. One of his traits is his ability to dash, and the color green for his visual effects was a good choice that sets him apart. I tried to make him snappy with strength, and since Axel has a dragon for a defensive move, I thought the wolf was on point.

Lastly, for Adam’s Ultra move we wanted a wave moving forward. I thought having swords coming out of the ground was kind of new, but would also portray him as a “sword of justice.”

Thanks for reading! I hope you like the game, and that long-time fans will enjoy seeing our new takes on old favorites. Don’t forget you can choose to play their new forms or go retro, just like back in the day.

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34 Comments

  • when will it be on the PlayStation Store?

  • Will it be available for pre-order in the PS store, or no pre-order and just fully released on 4/30?

  • I’m upset my favorite character skate Is not on the game 😡

  • Absolutely Awesome… thanks for the production insight. I honestly feel blessed and relieved that the Developers of Dotemu have shown this series and this game all the love and attention it deserves. 26 years was too long to wait for a sequel to this beloved franchise, but seeing everything done for this installment makes it worth the wait.

  • I can’t wait for this. 2 was my favorite beat ’em up ever, so i’m hoping for twice as much greatness.

  • Looking forward to playing this local co-op brawler with my wife and family. Have many found memories of playing the original games when I was a kid.

  • Hi Ben,

    In my opinion, Too much special effects are added to the moves (blaze blue fx ,adams green flames). It is overwhelmingon the screen and distracting to the eyes. It went off course and we lost in someway the original Fighting style of the game.
    I understand it’s a Change, but Change is not always means better.

    Blaze Fighting pose looks awkward. SOR1 and SOR2 were the best poses and should be your only reference. SOR3 pose was a mistake and shouldn’t be used as a reference. I can how SOR3 was used.
    It’s the way the legs are twisted and placed and how she faces enamies with her back. It’s not a real fighting pose and it’s unrealistic. I wished a real martial art reference was used here.

    Blaze design #6 was your Best look. Still badass and hot and not got thicker.

    Adams design also got buffed and thicker. I didn’t like how he aged, he looks completely different. His looks is better if you told me this is skate when he gets older. And what’s wrong with sticking with 80’s styles. Shoulder pads will still remain cool nowdays in games. You should kept the retro looks.

    Axel looks great. And everything else looks great.

    You will see statisticaly people be playing more the retro desgins and sound fx and music.
    In the old games the punches sounds were more crisps, bar hitting had more BANG,
    Axel’s yells “great grand papa” with echo were all epic. In the new game they got unfortunately dull.

    Thanks for your time reading my thoughts on this beloved game.

    • Completely nailed it. Blaze looks odd and I had really hoped they would take her back to her original look as opposed to perpetuating this overly sexualised look.

  • I can’t believe that we are getting a Streets of Rage 4 in 2020. I remember as a kid I always wanted a Streets of Rage 4 and would play Streets of Rage 3 with my brother over and over again. I hope this sells well so that we can get more classic games in the future.

  • I’m loving the updated design of the characters!! Adam Hunter will be my go to character! I just wish they would’ve updated ALL of them! Skate, Max…ect…oh well, I’m still hyped and can’t wait until April 30th!!

  • I love that you were willing to go into the design details of the game. It looks great, and I’m now interested.

    Thanks

  • Can’t wait to play this, Streets of Rage is one of those co-op games that I loved playing with my brother. Side note, all these years I thought Adam was black lol

  • So will Sammy Skate Hunter will be a playable character?

  • A “strong, independent woman,” eh? So she’s a cliché. Why must every female character be the exact same today? Are strong and independent the only things a woman should be? Are those the only virtues they should strive for? Is that all the media knows how to portray? Are they that unoriginal, or is there some agenda they’re working out on kids’ minds?

    • Are strong and independent the only things a woman should be? Probably not. But in a beat-em-up? Your characters have to have teeth or the player’s not gonna buy it. Anyway, Blaze Fielding is a character that’s been around for nearly 29 years. They have plenty of reference for how she should be in the first place.

  • Animation looks like Wild Kratts. I’m not really excited about this cuz remakes are rarely good. Streets of rage had great music and great characters and backgrounds. It was cool and maybe pg 13 I would say back in the day

  • I’m glad this game is coming back. But there is too much flashy fireball/effects happening going on. The original game had none. The second one started bringing them in but moves still had that bone crunching impact to them. Let’s not talk about how off the third game was.

    It disappoints me that Blaze still has to be portrayed as overly sexualised. Her stance and look was the best in the original game. Ask any woman and they would tell you that they would NOT go into a street fight wearing a boob-tube. I’m glad the original sprites are making an appearance in the game. I do hope you consider giving them an update but please keep them faithful to their original looks. .

  • Why is it that only the new lil guitar girl can sprint and all other characters can’t? 2020 and we only get one character that can sprint?

  • Let me commend the team making Streets of Rage 4 as you’ve put tremendous thought & care into bringing this fond series into the modern era, with generous throwbacks (sprites & sounds!) to the originals. Most would simply ditch the past & make new, but you’re honoring it so well!

    And to add features I only dreamed of like 4-player co-op and battle modes – love it!

  • Would love to play this on the PSVita!

  • I said it on your Twitter feed, and I’ll say it here as well…we need an art book for SoR4. This has been an absolute pleasure to watch evolve over the past couple years and I want MORE! ;)

    • Count me in, the art blows my mind and the hand drawn animation is fluid as heck! It’s amazing when love for an old IP allows for these things to come to fruition. And SOR4 has been way way too long to come true!

  • 😎
    Finally this is something we have all want and needed since forever
    😌
    #Shadow Dancer next please

  • Ben,

    Thank you so much for sharing your process— very interesting!

  • “Strong independent woman.” ..with less clothes. Cause Creating a stronger woman is always about bigger breasts and less clothes.

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