Streets of Rage 4: Throwback like a suplex

Lizardcube's next game looks familiar in all the wrong ways.

Where have you been, Streets of Rage 4? Your last instalment came out 25 years ago this month. Perhaps if you'd pulled your finger out we'd all be mightily impressed by another throwback side-scrolling beat-'em-up, but unfortunately you've rather missed the boat.

We've had The Behemoth's superb Castle Crashers, a real evolution of the beat-'em-up formula. We've also seen Double Dragon Neon, a highly under-rated display of stylish and technical punchkickery that matched almost everything else in the genre, perhaps even exceeded it. There have even been contemporary home releases of elusive Capcom classics like Shadow over Mystara and Battle Circuit. Obscure, refreshing indie swerves like Full Metal Furies or Fight'N Rage. What are you bringing to the table, Streets of Rage 4

Based on the recent footage, I'm concerned that it's very little. You can't coast on goodwill anymore. That art style isn't doing a lot for me, to begin with. It's not ugly, but it's not really that gritty, neon look that defines Streets of Rage, is it? You look washed out, downright dingy in places. And I don't think much to your characters. I'm not trying to be one of those pixel evangelists, but you're coming off as slow and floaty, without much impact to your attacks.

Speaking of, I saw you juggling enemies. Granted, that's new for you, but it's not much to write home about, is it? Now, I'm not an unreasonable man. I know it's early days yet. I can't take you to task for just a few seconds of gameplay, can I? It wouldn't be right. Besides, the developers working with you - Lizardcube, wasn't it? - did a great job on Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap a couple of years ago. I've got faith they can turn you around, get you pulling your socks up.

Now off you go, Streets of Rage 4. Go and play with your friends. Don't ride your bike on the footpath, and be back at six for your fish fingers, chips and beans.