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How to unlock all 12 Streets of Rage 4 retro characters

Streets of Rage 4 characters
(Image credit: Sega)

Streets of Rage 4 starts you off with four characters: series veterans Axel and Blaze, and newcomers Cherry and Floyd. Each character has a unique set of attacks, stats, and animations that give them each a different feel. Cherry, for example, is the only one with a dash move, which makes her highly mobile but means she doesn't pack the heavy punches of Axel and Floyd. They're a well-rounded bunch, but if you're like me, you'll be eager to unlock the rest of the characters Streets of Rage 4 has hidden away as soon as possible.

Good news and bad news: Unlocking all Streets of Rage 4's characters is easy, but it'll take some time. All you have to do is play the game, and as you progress and earn points, you'll eventually start passing milestones that unlock 12 classic characters, who return in their pixel art designs from the old Streets of Rage games.

The one exception to this system is Adam, who gets the same star treatment as the starting four, with a brand new hand-drawn design. But he's actually even easier to get. Here's how to unlock all the characters in Streets of Rage 4, along with some tips to help unlock them more quickly.

How to unlock Adam in Streets of Rage 4

Streets of Rage 4: Adam

(Image credit: Sega)

Unlocking Adam Hunter, a returning hero from Streets of Rage 1, couldn't be much easier. Simply complete level 4 in the Story mode to have Adam come to the rescue, making a grand entrance in a cutscene before becoming playable for the rest of the game. Father and daughter, reunited!

How to unlock Streets of Rage 4 classic characters

Streets of Rage 4 retro characters

(Image credit: Dotemu)

There are 12 unlockable retro characters in Streets of Rage 4, including variants of heroes Axel, Blaze and Adam. The whole cast is gradually unlocked by playing a whole bunch of Streets of Rage and scoring points. Your score from each level is added to a lifetime total, and at certain point milestones along the way, you start getting character unlocks.

The faster you earn points, then, the faster you can unlock all the characters. Most of your points come from performing combos—the higher your combo counter, the bigger the point reward. But remember that getting hit by an enemy will end your combo and deprive you of those points. A few tips to keep in mind: 

Time, HP, and unspent stars affect your score - You earn bonus points at the end of the stage based on how quickly you beat it, how much health you have left and whether you've held back any star powers.

Start on an easier difficulty and work your way up - You have to finish a level to keep the points you've accrued, so if you wipe on the boss, you've just wasted your time. Likewise, you may be tempted to play on higher difficulties using Streets of Rage 4's assist feature, which gives you extra lives. Go for it if you just want the challenge, but if you're after points, the assist feature drastically cuts your score at the end of the level, so it's going to slow down your unlock progress.

Learn when to end your combos - If you're a beat 'em up expert and breeze through the game without getting hit, then you'll be racking up points like crazy. But if you're like me, you'll often work up a nice 20 or 30 hit combo, only to be interrupted by an attack you couldn't avoid. If you want to keep those points, consider avoiding the action for a few seconds when you've built up a good combo and let it end safely. True, that will stop you from earning the bigger rewards of bigger combos, but slow and steady, right?

Use the defensive special to save combos - On a controller, pressing Y will trigger your defensive special move, which costs some of your health but makes you invincible for a short window. With good timing, you can use this move to absorb hits and retain your combos.

Play through stages with each character - You get bonus points for beating a stage with a character you haven't used before. You're going to be replaying each level a lot to earn enough points for the full roster, so you might as well use a different character each time to get more points.

Here are the characters you'll unlock, and how many points you'll need for each one.

  • Axel - Streets of Rage 1 - 200k points
  • Adam - Streets of Rage 1 - 250k points
  • Blaze - Streets of Rage 1 - 310k points
  • Axel - Streets of Rage 2 - 390k points
  • Blaze - Streets of Rage 2 - 480k points
  • Skate - Streets of Rage 2 - 570k points
  • Max - Streets of Rage 2 - 650k points
  • Axel - Streets of Rage 3 - 730k points
  • Blaze - Streets of Rage 3 - 840k points
  • Eddie - Streets of Rage 3 - 940k points
  • Dr. Zan - Streets of Rage 3 - 1.05m points
  • Shiva - Streets of Rage 3 - 1.15m points
When he's not 50 hours into a JRPG or an opaque ASCII roguelike, Wes is probably playing the hottest games of three years ago. He oversees features, seeking out personal stories from PC gaming's niche communities. 50% pizza by volume.