Streets of Rage 4 Mr. X Nightmare DLC impressions: More of a dream come true

At just under 10 bucks, Streets of Rage 4's Mr. X Nightmare DLC packs a ton of great content onto the already great game.


In 2020, Streets of Rage 4 was one of my favorite games, extremely high on my list of favorite indies and a constant among my recommendations throughout the year. There were only a handful of things that I remained wistful about when everything was said and done with the base experience: I wished certain boss characters were unlockable and that there was more to do after you’ve cleared the main game so many times. Dotemu, Lizardcube, and Guard Crush Games heard my pleas and those of others. We’ve finally gotten the Mr. X Nightmare and it addresses nearly everything that kept me from calling the game perfection in 2020.

A roguelike simulation of survival

One of the headliner features of Mr. X Nightmare is the new Survival mode on which much of its new content is premised. This new mode isn’t self-contained. It has goodies that affect the whole dang thing. At its core, it’s a roguelike mode. The point is to survive various arena stages of increasingly difficult thugs for as many levels as you can. Clear out the room of enemies and you clear the round. Then, you can pick from a selection of randomized power-ups that aid your fight, such as toxic damage on your heavy attacks, health vamp for dealing damage at the cost of no health from healing items, and increased durability on weapon pick-ups. Choosing wisely and building upon your perks as you go is the difference between making it two rounds and making it 10 rounds without issue.

As I said, this isn’t a self-contained mode, either. One of the biggest draws of the Survival mode is that you can unlock new things for use in the rest of the game. Depending on the character you use, you can level up their progress bar through Survival and earn new moves that can swap out their original setups. The main roster each has five moves you can unlock by doing well in Survival mode, but the legacy characters from Streets of Rage 1 to 3 also get some unlockable moves as well. We’re talking about giving Axl a straight-up Shoryuken jumping uppercut, a gatling punch for Floyd, and many more, allowing you to mix and match with the normal moves for even more combo potential. It’s a really cool way to mix up the original cast and give you plenty of reasons to keep playing them.

The stages and enemy variation is pretty great too. There are different themes that cycle out between modern Streets of Rage 4-style and retro-themed arenas (much like the secret arcades in the base game) complete with modern and retro enemies from through Streets of Rage 4 and the rest of the franchise to accompany them. The music on top of it is a treat too. Dotemu brought in Tee Lopes, a composer and arranger that has put in work on such games as Sonic Mania, League of Legends, and Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom. His additions to the soundtrack are really great, ranging from the mix of electronica I love about the base Streets of Rage 4 soundtrack to a particularly hype track that plays whenever you enter the gladiatorial arena stage. Top to bottom, arenas to sounds, Survival is really fun and will challenge even the best players to grind out its later, more difficult levels, unlocking new moves for your favorite characters as you go.

The new challengers

When I reviewed Streets of Rage 4, I felt deeply that Estel Aguirre and Shiva were so fleshed out in their boss appearance move sets that they could have been unlockable playable characters with some work. Then, there’s the fact that Max Thunder was also only an enemy boss and could only be played in his Streets of Rage 2 retro form. Well, Dotemu went and made my dreams come true. Each of these characters is now playable in this DLC right from the start across any mode, and complete with their own set of unlockable moves in Survival mode.

Estel, Shiva, and Max are everything I hoped they’d be and more. In a game that already has an incredible roster of fighters filling out different playstyles, these three characters still manage to fill niches that make them incredibly fun to play, learn, and master. Estel has a tackle to ground pound special that can be comboed into out of nearly anything she does. Shiva is an aerial combo wizard with a ton of speed and versatility to throw around. Max not only has all the grappling moves you can want, but also an awesome jumping splash that can be used to bounce enemies up for more combos. Each of them is incredibly fun to play and I found myself exploring the new Training mode that is arriving in a free update alongside the DLC to lab these characters and really explore what I could do with them, much like the fighting game depth I have deeply enjoyed about Streets of Rage 4 all along.

A welcome nightmare

Streets of Rage 4 Mr. X Nightmare is an excellent addition to this game and it’s an incredible value on top of it at just $7.99 USD. The characters alone would be extremely welcome, but Survival mode gives players an awesome new way to challenge themselves. Moreover, the unlocks of new moves, weapons packs, and other goodies along a great additional soundtrack give us plenty of reasons to keep going back and taking on the challenge. Barring further DLC, I think this is about as close to the ideal package as Streets of Rage 4 gets for me, and I look forward to continuing to play and recommend this game to anyone looking for the best of all beat-‘em-ups running right now.

These impressions are based on a digital copy of the DLC provided by the publisher. Streets of Rage 4 is already available and the Mr. X Nightmare DLC is out on July 15, 2021 for PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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