Smash Underdogs #2: Axel Stone

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Welcome to the second episode of my Smash Underdog series! Throughout this series, I will be taking a look at some of the less talked about names in Smash speculation as well as what type of content they could bring to the table! The purpose of this series is to get readers hooked on the idea of these characters appearing in Smash one day, whether it be for Ultimate or for a future title. With that said, let us dive into today’s gang fighting candidate.

It’s the early 1990’s and crime is at an all-time high. With no signs of the violence subsiding, a member of the law decides to take matters into their own hands. No I am not talking about Final Fight’s Mike Haggar (I’ll be covering him another day), I’m actually referring to none other than Axel Stone from Streets of Rage (or Bare Knuckle in Japan)!

Who is Axel Stone?


First Appearance: Streets of Rage (1991)
Latest Appearance: Streets of Rage 4 (2020)
Streets of Rage is a side scrolling beat ‘em up series created by Sega for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive. This series allows for one or two players to beat up gang members as well as an assortment of other types of enemies as they progress through city streets and other environments. Each game features special moves available to use, items that can be picked off of the ground, and a catchy soundtrack.


Axel Stone is one of the main protagonists of the series as well as one of two characters (the other being Blaze Fielding) to be playable in every entry. In the first Streets of Rage, Axel quits his job as a cop along with fellow officers Adam Hunter and Blaze Fielding due to the increasing corruption within their city’s police department. The three former law enforcers decide to take the city’s crime issues into their own bare knuckles by taking down the Syndicate and their leader Mr. X. In Streets of Rage 2, Mr. X returns and kidnaps Adam to lure in Axel and Blaze as payback from last time. Axel and Blaze once again defeat him along with help from Adam’s little brother Eddie “Skate” Hunter and professional wrestler Max “Thunder” Hatchett. Streets of Rage 3 has Mr. X plotting to take over the city through the use of robotic clones meant to impersonate public officials; the Japanese version of the game features a much darker story in the form of Mr. X detonating a new weapon known as Rakushin which kills thousands of people. Along with help from former Syndicate cyborg Zan, the group of heroes defeat Mr. X once and for all by destroying his genetically enhanced brain.

After much fan demand and a whopping 26 years, the Streets of Rage series will finally be getting its 4th entry sometime in 2020. The confirmed playable characters as of now include the original cast from the first Streets of Rage game as well as a few newcomers such as Adam’s daughter Cherry. Axel is also sporting a new look consisting of a beard and a much bulkier body.


It was a tough choice choosing between Axel and Blaze to represent Streets of Rage, but in the end I felt that Axel would be the prime candidate. He’s pretty much the posterboy of the series and he was even chosen to appear in Project X Zone 2 along with many other Sega, Namco, and Capcom characters.


Maybe Chrom and Lucina can pull some strings at Nintendo to get Axel into Smash?​

“I’m Interested in Streets of Rage! How Can I Play It?”

Streets of Rage 1, 2, and 3 are among the 53 titles included with the Sega Genesis Classics Collection on Switch. The bundle also includes Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine as one of the games so you’d have to be crazy not to get it.

You can also purchase all three of the original games separately on Steam for $1 each. All three are worth playing though if you only have $1 on you, go for Streets of Rage 2.

And of course there is Streets of Rage 4 releasing this year. It should be a good entry point for the series though you can’t go wrong by getting started through the classic games.

Axel’s Chances For Smash

I'll briefly list some things Axel has going for and against his inclusion in Smash:

Pros:
  • Beat ‘em ups are a popular genre that Smash surprisingly doesn’t have a character from yet (not counting possible spin-offs). If someone at Nintendo were interested in representing that genre, Axel would be a prime candidate.
  • With Streets of Rage 2 being an extremely beloved game as well as Streets of Rage 4 being announced back in 2018, Axel is definitely relevant enough for Smash.
Cons:
  • If Nintendo for some reason decides to pick a character to represent the beat ‘em up genre, Axel would have to compete with characters like Final Fight’s Mike Haggar.
  • Axel has some major Sega competition with Arle Nadja who has been increasing in popularity by the day. There is also some competition in the form of another Sonic character as well as several other Sega characters.

Why Should Axel be in Smash?

Streets of Rage is one of the definitive 2D beat ‘em up game series - a genre that was yet to be truly represented in Smash Bros through a character. Streets of Rage 2 in particular is widely regarded as the best game of its genre. If you were to ask someone “what is your favorite 2D beat ‘em up game?” chances are they will say Streets of Rage 2.

Axel himself would be a very unique fighter thanks to his flashy melee moves and the ability to use weapons such as lead pipes in combat. He just screams early 90’s fighting hero so to those who like Terry but don’t like his manual inputs or automatic turn around feature, Axel may be the character for you.

Moveset

In the Streets of Rage games, you can perform powerful special moves which take away a small amount of your health. Streets of Rage 3 however allows you to use special moves without losing health as long as your power meter is full. Once you use a special move, the power meter will automatically recharge which takes about 5 seconds. Of course you can still use special moves in between the charging time, however you will take recoil damage like in the previous two games.




For Axel’s moveset in Smash, he would take a small amount of damage while performing all of his special moves with the exception of up B. If you wait about 5 seconds in between special moves for your meter to automatically fill up, you’ll be granted one special attack that does not hurt you. Keep in mind that the meter will automatically be full at the start of a stock. To compensate for the health drainage when using specials without a full meter, Axel’s specials would be very strong in general. Repeatedly spamming special moves in a short amount of time however will significantly increase the amount of damage you take.

Furthermore, Axel would have some incredibly strong throws (almost as strong as Incineroar’s) since grabbing enemies is a big part of Streets of Rage. Expect fast pummels from Axel and throws that can kill at around 100%. His downside would be relatively weak recovery options.


Neutral B: Dragon Smash



Axel unleashes a barrage of punches similar to Mii Brawler’s Flashing Mach Punch neutral B. If an opponent gets caught in your punches, Axel will keep punching more and end the move with a strong uppercut.

Side B: Grand Upper



Pretty much Captain Falcon’s side B except it’s much faster and hits through multiple enemies. Its horizontal range isn’t as great as Falcon’s side B, though it sends the opponent at a far diagonal angle.


Up B: Uppercut



This is Axel’s finishing move to his blitz attack (neutral B) in his original games. It’d pretty much be Ryu’s up B except it has greater horizontal travel distance in exchange slightly less height for recovery distance.


Down B: Dragon Wing



Axel swings his arm in a fast circular motion. Mainly used as a defensive option to get enemies away from you, though deals a good amount of damage. Has a bit of endlag though.


Final Smash: Police Backup



A police car drives up and fires a bazooka at enemies straight out of the special ability in the first Streets of Rage game. Prior to the shot, you could also have Axel and other characters from the series beating up the opponent(s) if the goal is to have the final smash be more cinematic.


Costumes

Pictured below are how I imagine Axel’s colors would look in Smash:



  1. Axel’s default appearance in the first two Streets of Rage games as well as in Bare Knuckle 3 (Japanese version of Streets of Rage 3).
  2. Based on Blaze Fielding, one of the main characters who is playable in every game.
  3. Based on Adam Hunter, one of the original three characters playable in the first Streets of Rage game.
    • This costume also bears similarity to Axel’s Streets of Rage 2 alt as well as Axel’s default appearance in the Western versions of Streets of Rage 3.
  4. Based on Max “Thunder” Hatchett, a friend of Axel who is playable in Streets of Rage 2.
  5. Based on Eddie “Skate” Hunter, Adam’s little brother who is playable in Streets of Rage 2 and 3.
  6. Based on Dr. Gilbert Zan, a former member of the Syndicate who is one of the four playable characters in Streets of Rage 3.
  7. Based on Shiva, a recurring boss character in the series.
  8. Based on Axel’s redesign in Streets of Rage 4.
I did consider a Mr. X palette swap, but in the end it just looked like a less colorful version of Shiva’s alt.


Spirits

Pictured below is a general idea of what the spirits that coincide with Axel would look like. In parentheses are the names of the Smash characters who would represent them in battle.




Stage: Wood Oak City Slums




A side-scrolling stage based on the first level of Streets of Rage 2. Enemies could show up to interfere with battle similar to the Flying Men on the Magicant stage. It could also incorporate different levels from Streets of Rage into the stage, such as the amusement park in the third level of Streets of Rage 2.

Victory Theme

What else could it be but the recognizable stage clear theme that plays in every game?

Music
Some Streets of Rage tunes to expect if Axel ever makes it into Smash:
Closing Comments

And with that, we have another Underdog episode wrapped up. Hope you all enjoyed this article and are more interested in Axel now!


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Next time on Smash Underdogs: A literal dog who is cute, cuddly, and on some occasions wooly.


Author’s Note: What are your thoughts on Axel and Streets of Rage as a whole? Would you like to see Axel playable in Smash someday? Also do you have any other “underdog” suggestions you’d like to possibly see me cover some day? Let us know in the comments!
 
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Sari

Comments

I certainly hope he'll get in at some point down the line, in the Smash series. 4 being on the Switch (once the game eventually gets out) helps a lot.

Also, nice to see Fuze in here.
 
I'm pretty sure Dragon Smash is actually what's being referred to as Blitz Attack here. Grand Upper is the actual name of the side b, which Axel says every time he uses the move.
 
Awesome writeup! Streets of Rage 2 is one of my favorite games of all time, and while it's hard for me to see Axel or Blaze getting in over other Sega heavy-hitters I'd still love to see it. Can't wait for SOR4.
 
Streets of Rage love!!! Yes!

Love this series, and although I’m slightly biased towards Blaze, Axel is amazing too. Great moveset!
If I might change a few things, maybe Dragon Wing could work as his Downsmash? But since it’s a special move of his, it makes sense to have as a special.

If I had to add in a replacement, then using Down+B to pick up a random item from SoR would do the trick.
- Knife (short range but very fast swings)
- Sword (average range, average speed)
- Pipe (great range but slow to swing)
- Tear gas (put opponent in dizzy state)

These would come out randomly like Peach’s turbio variety. Tear gas being the rarest.

Thing with these weapons is that you can only use them with neutral A on the ground. Any other input will cause Axel to throw it away.

Anyway, fantastic spirit and music selection.
SoR is my favorite BEU game series. But it’s kinda like a pipe dream for me.

Also... how crazy is that the day you posted this, is the same day the new character was revealed for SoR4!? You laid the groundwork for me to be hyped and thinking about SoR again, and look at what happened! :O

Perfect Final Smash idea.
It’s always hard for me to choose between a SoR character and Joe Musashi for new SEGA rep.
Really nice concept. I approve.
 
Streets of Rage love!!! Yes!

Love this series, and although I’m slightly biased towards Blaze, Axel is amazing too. Great moveset!
If I might change a few things, maybe Dragon Wing could work as his Downsmash? But since it’s a special move of his, it makes sense to have as a special.

If I had to add in a replacement, then using Down+B to pick up a random item from SoR would do the trick.
- Knife (short range but very fast swings)
- Sword (average range, average speed)
- Pipe (great range but slow to swing)
- Tear gas (put opponent in dizzy state)

These would come out randomly like Peach’s turbio variety. Tear gas being the rarest.

Thing with these weapons is that you can only use them with neutral A on the ground. Any other input will cause Axel to throw it away.

Anyway, fantastic spirit and music selection.
SoR is my favorite BEU game series. But it’s kinda like a pipe dream for me.

Also... how crazy is that the day you posted this, is the same day the new character was revealed for SoR4!? You laid the groundwork for me to be hyped and thinking about SoR again, and look at what happened! :O

Perfect Final Smash idea.
It’s always hard for me to choose between a SoR character and Joe Musashi for new SEGA rep.
Really nice concept. I approve.
Thanks for the feedback. A Peach/Daisy type of Down-B was actually my second idea for Axel's Down-B. Honestly I feel like I should've incorporated it.

And yeah I still can't believe there was a new SoR4 trailer just a few hours after I posted this.
 
This is a really great writeup. I'd love for Axel to be in Smash. SoR2 is one of my all-time favorite games, and it was one I played a great deal with a friend that has since passed away. Cherished memories with that game. Would be a real joy to see him in Smash.
 
Streets of Rage love!!! Yes!

Love this series, and although I’m slightly biased towards Blaze, Axel is amazing too. Great moveset!
If I might change a few things, maybe Dragon Wing could work as his Downsmash? But since it’s a special move of his, it makes sense to have as a special.

If I had to add in a replacement, then using Down+B to pick up a random item from SoR would do the trick.
- Knife (short range but very fast swings)
- Sword (average range, average speed)
- Pipe (great range but slow to swing)
- Tear gas (put opponent in dizzy state)

These would come out randomly like Peach’s turbio variety. Tear gas being the rarest.

Thing with these weapons is that you can only use them with neutral A on the ground. Any other input will cause Axel to throw it away.

Anyway, fantastic spirit and music selection.
SoR is my favorite BEU game series. But it’s kinda like a pipe dream for me.

Also... how crazy is that the day you posted this, is the same day the new character was revealed for SoR4!? You laid the groundwork for me to be hyped and thinking about SoR again, and look at what happened! :O

Perfect Final Smash idea.
It’s always hard for me to choose between a SoR character and Joe Musashi for new SEGA rep.
Really nice concept. I approve.
How about throwing or breaking a trash can to get the item, with a chance of nothing?

Sari Sari Since you've mentioned Project X Zone in your analysis, would you be interested in covering the protagonists of the second and Namco X Capcom?
 
How about throwing or breaking a trash can to get the item, with a chance of nothing?

Sari Sari Since you've mentioned Project X Zone in your analysis, would you be interested in covering the protagonists of the second and Namco X Capcom?
I have a lot of other Capcom/Namco characters I was planning to cover, but yeah I can add them to my list of characters to cover eventually.
 
I'd be pretty happy to see SoR as one of the potential series to join Smash. I would agree that Go Straight and Dreamer are pretty much mandatory songs if Axel got in. I feel like with Final Fight as well, Cody, Guy and Haggar are all justifiable choices. And the music alone would be worth it. In the case of Streets of Rage, I think either Axel or Blaze could be used and it wouldn't be weird. I dig implementing original mechanics into their moveset, though I'd hope that they maybe had typical beat'em up items, even if it had to work similar to Vega in Street Fighter.
 
To elaborate further on Axel's traits in particular, at least from what I've played of 2...

He honestly has the weakest set of throws of that roster. Still serviceable but Blaze's are a bit stronger and the others are in a whole different league, especially Max. His throw game can still stand out in Smash, however, by incorporating the unique vault and grab-from-behind mechanics, the latter allowing a different set of throws that tend to be higher damaging and more combo-proficient.

Aerials are another area where he kind of falls short. They're fine for spacing at times and initiating ground combos but they're also pretty weak, especially the forward jump kick.
 
Honestly, I’d love both Axel and Haggar for Smash, with music from both the Streets of Rage series and the Final Fight series. Both originals and new remixes. (Yeah, I know I say that a lot when it comes to a character I’d like to see as a playable character for Smash)
 
>Axel has some major Sega competition with Arle Nadja who has been increasing in popularity by the day.
Oh HUSH, even if Puyo Puyo used to be an underdog once, much "comparingly" smaller SEGA-owned IPs like Atlus' Persona and PG's Bayonetta manage to get dibs over another "highly-requested" Sonic character.

that's not even an obstacle, the real question is who gets priority now that both IPs are thriving in fulll once again.

also, i can already hear roster critics calling Axel Stone "Bandana Terry" or "Jean Ken" again.
 
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