Streets of Was

Posted October 26, 2020

As I’m sure many of you will remember, the original Streets of Rage for the Mega Drive had multiple endings. The real canonical ending has you beat the crap out of Mr. X, thereby ending his reign of terror forever (yeah, right). However, if you confronted Mr. X with a buddy in tow, a new possible path unlocked.

A quick refresher is in order. When you confront Mr. X he will ask you to join his organization. If you both decline, you’ll kick his ass and save the city (yeah, right). However, if one of you decides that sitting in the boss chair while smoking cigars is ultimately a better life choice than getting hit with metal pipes and ninja stars every time you leave your apartment - which, to be fair, I can understand - then you’ll have to settle your differences with a fight to the death. If the player who chose to join Mr. X wins, you’ll unlock the “bad” ending pictured below:

badending.png

And yes, this is the bad ending, because crime does not pay. Except for penthouse office located at the end of the world’s longest corridor.

It was a really cool feature, and a very unexpected one. I mean, it’s not like beat ‘em ups are known for their stories. However…it was also a feature that caused some issues for me. Just imagine the scenes with Mr. X looked like this:

garbled1.png

No, I’m not talking about glitches or bugs. I’m talking about the fact that the game was entirely in English…and neither me nor my dad spoke any English back in the day. So to us, the dialogue may as well have looked as pictured above. Also consider the fact that giving the wrong answers led to you being sent back 2 whole stages. So basically, this short bit of interactive dialogue was about as tense as the actual final boss fight for us.

Luckily we weren’t the only Germans with a lack of English ability, so strategy guides actually printed the answers you needed to unlock each ending. And we had to look it up more than once, because we didn’t manage to actually get to the final boss nearly often enough to remember the right choices. Give me a break, I was like 5 years old.

But yeah, not speaking English was a real issue for us mainland European gamers back in the day. The boxes and manuals were translated, but most games were not. Since most games back then weren’t exactly story-heavy that wasn’t an issue most of the time. And it’s not like we’d buy an unlocalized RPG, since we knew we wouldn’t be able to play it. But apart from SOR there was one other game I distinctly remember tripping us up. A game I like so much that I created a whole game based on its core mechanic: Quackshot.

In Quackshot you take Donald Duck around the world to find a legendary treasure. The game’s structure is actually slightly open-ended, as you’ll always have 2 or 3 levels that you can go to. To help you figure out the right order, people in the game give you hints; usually along the lines of “Go to X to grab item Y”. It’s rather simple and straightforward…if you can read the English text.

qshot.png
I would, if I understood a word you were saying, lady!

Yeah, if you can’t read the hints, you’re basically stuck trying out all the levels until you encounter the path forward. Strategy guides again came to the rescue, but if the ones you had didn’t cover the game…well, you were boned. I’m not sure if we had a guide from the beginning or if we brute-forced our way through the game, but we did manage to make it through. Ha!

Luckily bigger and more complex games like Landstalker and Soleil (aka Crusader of Centy) were localized, so I didn’t have to miss out on them. And over time I did manage to learn English (mainly due to video games) so the problem eventually evaporated. But the memories of those confused days will probably stay with me forever. Nobody should have to deal with those damn female ninjas guarding Mr. X’ door twice just because you said the wrong thing.

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