How Streets of Rage’s iconic characters were redesigned for the PS4 sequel

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How Streets of Rage’s iconic characters were redesigned for the PS4 sequel

The side-scrolling beat ‘em up’s art director details how the studio reimagined Blaze Fielding and Adam Hunter

Streets of Rage 4 on PS4
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?
Streets of Rage 4 on PS4
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 mini skirt 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.
Streets of Rage 4 on PS4
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.
Streets of Rage 4 on PS4
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.
Streets of Rage 4 on PS4
Which brings us to the animation, which is very important to me and is also one of Lizardcube’s strengths.

Streets of Rage 4 on PS4Streets of Rage 4 on PS4

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.
Streets of Rage 4 on PS4
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.
Streets of Rage 4 on PS4


Streets of Rage 4 on PS4
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.
Streets of Rage 4 on PS4
Streets of Rage 4 on PS4
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.
Streets of Rage 4 on PS4
Streets of Rage 4 on PS4
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 colour 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.
Streets of Rage 4 on PS4
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”.
Streets of Rage 4 on PS4
Thanks for reading! I hope you like the game, and that long-time fans will enjoy seeing our new takes on old favourites. Don’t forget you can choose to play their new forms or go retro, just like back in the day.

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  • Looking forward to playing co-op with some mates and experiencing that nostalgia, I hope I can speak for everyone when I say you’ve done the fans proud. This looks awesome!

  • I gotta be honest, I don’t see myself using the pixelly ones much but it’s nice they’re there. They just look really out of place to me. I’m a bit of a pixel purist. Like when there’s pixel art I like things to be consistent, no weirdly scaled pixels looking all rectangular and messy compared to other pixels and such. The new HD sprites and the new looks of each character look way better overall anyways. :) Looking forward to this game muchly. :D

  • Really looking forward to this. Played all the original 3 on the SEGA Mega Drive back in the 80s. Can’t wait to take down Mr. X again.

    Can we get a price please, been looking online to find out it will be in Ireland and no site seems to have a price.

    • It’s probably gonna cost £20.00. I find that expensive for a 2D fighting game that will likely last 1 hour to complete.

      It’s priced $24.99 in the states.

    • I agree that it’ll probably be around £20. However I think that’s a totally fair price. It’s well under half the cost of a regular full release game.

      Remember the 3 previous games were £40 games and much less feature rich. That’s not even taking into account inflation since the 90’s. £20 is totally fair.

    • Yeah, I can see myself playing this a lot even if I complete it, just any time I feel a bit stressed from the day and just want to play a nice non-complicated game of just punching the crud out of idiots. Replayabilty > game length. For me anyways.

  • psNow pc aus i got a mad itch to play some console exclusives keen to spend money if theres a date or even if the cost is my weak sause soul plz im keen just wanted to let there be known thars interest on pc… ehhh

  • Looking forward to this, the 90s originals were great. I imported Bare knuckle 3 because I saw it advertised when my uncle was visiting there. Then got the localised streets of rage 3 too.

    Also got Fighting Force, which should have been SoR4, and that was a pretty decent 3d side scroller… But just seeing this game now, with its style, it really makes me excited. In my eyes when I was 11, the original games looked like this. Tiny little animations like Blazes hair flick gave character to the… Uh… Characters, in ways most games didn’t.

    I’ll definitely get this day one, cause I have an xbox game pass and it’s free on there on day one. But whichever console I choose to play it on, I can’t wait. Me and my wife will be cracking skulls all through the night when my son goes bed.

  • A blast from the past.. hope to see more old school games on the ps4/ps5 in the future.. well done!

  • Can’t wait for this, looks like you guys have done a great job. Golden Axe next?

    • I would go with that. Maybe tweak the art-style to have an influence from classic fantasy artists like Frank Frazetta.

  • The character redesigns in this game look [DELETED] stupid. The proof of that claim lies in the fact that in the 11th hour of the games development the studio decided to offer players the original SoR2 sprites in order to mitigate the widespread complaints of the new character designs. A smart move too. It sold me.

  • The new designs look like garbage. Streets of Rage has a realistic aesthetic, not thick outline cartoon art. Likewise I’m appalled at the animations having built-in blur and special effects. They have no respect for the gritty, dark, realistic SoR vibe. It looks horrible, like Street Fighter II.

    • ‘gritty, dark, realistic SoR vibe’ like having a kangaroo as a character?

      And if you mean Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix? I hated that too. The HD art didn’t work for me and the animations were choppy as heck. But this REALLY works for me. It’s got so much style, and is well animated. I far prefer this style to the original 3 SoR games.

  • OK, this looks amazing. The moodier look of SoR Sega games of the 90s has been replaced with a comic-book style. This is the ideal way to update an ageing beat ’em up genre game imo. Will there be a physical retail collector’s edition? Because, well y’know, I want something tangible to gather dust on my shelves.

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