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The Streets of Rage Saga is a fan-fiction story written by Matthew Drury between 1995 and 2010, based on the popular Streets of Rage video game series. The saga consists of ten separate stories which are set between 2012 and 2030 and which outline the efforts of Axel Stone, Adam Hunter and Blaze Fielding (the three core heroes of the first game) and their allies against The Syndicate.
The ten stories are listed in order below:
- Cygnus Threshold
- Project Y
- The New Syndicate
- Syndicate Wars: The Rise of Dreadnought
- Syndicate Wars: Shadow Dancer
- Shadow Hand
- The Sons of Darkness
- Behind the World
The series takes elements from the three canon games and the fan-made Streets of Rage Remake and other fan-made SOR works, creating an Alternate Universe story in which various characters get fleshed-out back-stories and characterization that wasn't present in the original canon (including generic enemies from the games becoming more important characters in this saga).
According to the Streets of Rage Online website, the saga has since been translated into Spanish and is available in hard-cover format.
The entire ten-story saga is available for download (in zipped PDF format) here.
(NOTE: This page is solely about tropes related to Streets of Rage Saga. Therefore, please do not post any tropes related to Bare Knuckle: Ghost Precinct here, as that is considered a separate continuity altogether.)
WARNING! There are unmarked Spoilers ahead. Beware.
- Adaptation Expansion: In this continuity, the main protagonists and several major villains are given back-stories (whereas in the games, they didn't have any beyond Axel, Adam and Blaze being ex-cops who quit the force because of its corruption). As prominent villainous examples, Mr. X's full name is George Xetheus, California's state senator; and Shiva (The Dragon in the games) is given the first name Leon.
- Adult Fear:
- Pulled off skillfully and frighteningly in Origins. Think of your child wandering off during a seemingly peaceful vacation, only to be viciously attacked moments later...
- The New Syndicate shows us, via dream-flashback, just how to invoke the horror of having someone snatch your infant child when you turn your back for just a moment.
- Done with horrifying effect in Behind the World: your children are kidnapped and their guardian murdered in the process, and there's nothing you can do about it.
- Affably Evil: Mr. X can come across as genial when he wants to.
- All Women Are Lustful: Blaze is the biggest offender, though she's far from the only one.
- Alternate Universe: Adding to the above explanation and other points elsewhere on this page, certain liberties are taken with various characters, giving them unique pasts and motivations that were either barely touched on or nonexistent altogether in the original canon games. For example, in this continuity Blaze was a member of an unidentified indigenous island tribe (no such back-story was given for her in the games), Adam continues on as a member of the police force after Axel and Blaze quit in order to give them inside information (in the games, he quit alongside them), and Shiva and Rudra are siblings (in the games they're not, plus Rudra is unique to Streets of Rage Remake and doesn't appear at all in the original trilogy).
- Amnesiac Dissonance: Axel is eventually told about his time as Enigma. On the other hand, Enigma, after being brought to the surface with drugs, claims to hear Axel screaming in pain if he concentrates.
- Anticlimax Boss: Barbon in Project Y, built up to be Electra's right-hand man, kicks down the door to his bar to confront the heroes...and gets defeated by one Grand Upper attack from Axel. Also the titular villains in Sons of Darkness.
- Anyone Can Die: Let's just leave it at that...
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Skate apparently has no problem believing that cyborgs, clones and functional battle robots exist (after all, he's fought a number of them and has teamed up with Dr. Zan, who is himself a cyborg), yet he scoffs at the idea of ninja-themed magical powers.
- Arms Dealer: Shiva, in this continuity, makes good business doing this.
- Artificial Limbs: After getting his legs shot to pieces in Project Y, Shiva gets a new pair of prosthetic legs. They strengthen his kicking power and allow him to move at high speeds.
- Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: Haku-Oh, from the outfit to the fighting style.
- Ascended Extra: Remember the various mooks from the games, the ones who weren't at boss-level? In this saga, several of them are given characterization and, in a few instances, they're made significant characters in the story's progress. One of the earliest prominent examples is Haku-oh, a generic kung fu henchman from the first and second games, who's made The Dragon for the first story's Big Bad with a significant background story.
- Atomic F-Bomb: Axel drops one after being forced to abandon the search for their missing ally Candace.
- Ax Crazy: Enigma.
- Back From the Dead: Mr. X comes back from the dead at least twice in the saga through bio-genetic means (not counting his Brain In a Jar status during Project Y), and in fact the introductory note for Shadow Hand is similar to the introductory story used in the fan-made Streets of Rage Remake, where, having been thought to be dead, he returned to life "stronger than ever." Following his defeat in Shadow Hand, he is resurrected by the titular Sons of Darkness for their own purposes.
- Dr. Zan in Shadow Dancer, having been exhumed from his grave and given a new android body by British operatives; Leon Shiva is a villainous example from the same story, courtesy of The Syndicate and the aforementioned bio-genetic engineering. In Behind the World it's revealed that Skate was genetically resurrected by the Syndicate and took on the name Anthrax.
- Bad Boss: Lucius Hawk executes a hired assassin who failed his mission by shooting him in the head. Likewise, Enigma thanks two scavengers he hired to find an ancient artifact, once they hand it over to him, by ordering his right-hand man to "give them what they deserve"...which in this case is two shotgun blasts.
- Badass Adorable: Axel was a second-degree black belt at the age of six.
- Badass Grandpa: The titular Dreadnought in The Rise of Dreadnought was born in 1897, fought for Nazi Germany using arm-fitted blades during World War 2, and in the present day (2018), he's still considered one of the most dangerous men in the world.
- Badass in Distress: Adam in Origins, mirroring his status from the second game. Axel also gets this treatment in the same story.
- Battle Couple: Axel and Blaze, even before their wedding at the end of Shadow Hand.
- Berserk Button: Being a Syndicate member is a sure way to place yourself on Blaze's "kill with extreme prejudice" list. Also, do not injure Skate in Adam's immediate presence if you want to avoid the latter giving you a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
- Beam-O-War: After turning against Mr. X, Shiva launches one while fighting him.
- Big Bad:
- Mr. X, of course, though most prominently in Origins and Project Y.
- Prior to Mr. X's revelation as the Man Behind the Man in Origins, Lucius Hawk served as the Big Bad in Cygnus Threshold.
- The titular villain in The Rise of Dreadnought.
- Socharis the Dragon Lord in Shadow Dancer and Shadow Hand.
- Shiva in Duality.
- Enigma in Behind the World.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Between Shiva and the Hand, the leader of Neo Zeed, in The New Syndicate.
- Non-Action Big Bad: The Sons of Darkness, as it turns out.
- Big Damn Heroes: Pulled off by Axel, Adam, Max and General Petrov in Project Y when they storm the White House press conference to stop the robot-imposter Petrov from giving his war announcement. This mirrors the events that take place in the Japanese version of Streets of Rage 3 (in the US version, it's the police chief at City Hall who's being impersonated), but in the original game the White House/City Hall scene only happens if you fail to save the General/police chief and the imposter is not a robot, but Shiva in disguise.
- Much later, in Duality, Adam narrowly rescues Blaze from being gang-raped by Syndicate thugs.
- Big No:
- Shiva unleashes one when Axel knocks him off the roof of his headquarters in The New Syndicate, plummeting 70 stories to his death.
- Dreadnought gives one when he gets Hoist by His Own Petard.
- Socharis has a moment upon being defeated in Shadow Hand.
- Rudra gives one just before being shot to death by Adam.
- Blaze emits one in Behind the World when Adam dies.
- Bittersweet Ending: Taken individually, the endings for some of the stories in the overall saga qualify.
- Cygnus Threshold: Axel has avenged his parents' deaths, but the captured Lucius Hawk gets Off on a Technicality thanks to the Syndicate's machinations.
- The New Syndicate: Shiva and the Hand are dead, Joe Musashi has retrieved the two mystic items that Neo Zeed sought to steal for their nefarious purposes, and Axel and Blaze get back together. However, Dr. Zan is now dead, and the nuclear bombing of London has created a state of societal and financial chaos both at ground zero and in the wider global community, as Shiva had hoped to have happen.
- Shadow Dancer: Joe Musashi has avenged his slain friend by killing Sauros, and the cyborg Jet has been destroyed by Blaze and company. However, Max is now dead, and the Dragon Lord still lives.
- Shadow Hand: Socharis the Dragon Lord, a.k.a. Mr. X, is dead once again, his clones are destroyed, his Take Over the World plan has been stopped, Axel and Blaze get married and are now expecting a baby, Dr. Zan is Back From the Dead, and siblings Rudra and Shiva have reunited and pulled a collective Heel Face Turn. However, Skate is now dead and millions of people have been killed by the Project Y robots that were sent out by Mr. X.
- Duality: The Syndicate's Weapon of Mass Destruction has been destroyed and the entire world has been saved; but Blaze, who was pregnant with her and Axel's second child, has lost the baby.
- Behind the World: Zan, Adam, Tina and Blaze are all dead by the end of the story--in Zan's case, for the second time and permanently--and Axel leaves the city, having nothing there to go back to. On the other hand, Enigma has been destroyed, his plan to bring Hell on Earth has been stopped, Axel and Blaze's children have been rescued, the Kaeyus Infernus pieces have been destroyed to prevent a reopening of the portal, and as Axel himself notes, Blaze's death means that after the crapsack life she's experienced, she can now have peace. This one may also qualify as a Downer Ending for the saga as a whole, depending on how you view it.
- Blood Brothers: Musashi, Kato, and Yamato formed such a bond taking down the Zeed organization.
- Blood Knight: Shiva.
- Bond One-Liner: Adam delivers one in The Rise of Dreadnought at the climax of his fight with Zamza after the latter gets hit by a subway train.
Adam: I hope that hurt.
- After seeing Beano get impaled with a flying surfboard, Busta quips "Wipe out."
- Rudra mutters "Checkmate." after killing two soldiers who were playing chess.
- Boom! Headshot!: Axel is evidently good at delivering these.
- Brain In a Jar: Mr. X's status in Project Y (a throwback to his status in the third game).
- Brainwashed and Crazy:
- Dr. Zan via reprogramming in The New Syndicate.
- Axel reverting to Enigma via drugs in Duality.
- Broken Bird: Blaze, in no small part thanks to The Syndicate.
- Broken Pedestal: After realizing he works for the Syndicate, Dr. Dahm becomes this to Zan.
- The Cameo: Aside from the Crossover moments in the saga, there's one very surprising cameo that is made, not by a person, but by an inanimate object--the Elizabeth Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane, where Dr. Henry Dahm has been imprisoned in The Rise of Dreadnought after his actions in Project Y. This Arkham Asylum is stated to be on an island 250 miles west of France, and there's no mention of Gotham City (in Batman canon, Arkham Asylum is on the very outskirts of Gotham, which itself is a pastiche of New York, which in real life is over 3000 miles away from France).
- Canon Foreigner: Too many to list here. Lucius Hawk, Captain Jack Wyndam, Detective Bellamy and Axel's sister Tina are just four examples from the first story alone (in canon, Axel doesn't have any relatives and the police chief from the North American version of the third game is unnamed).
- Catapult Nightmare: Blaze has several plot-relevant ones in The Rise of Dreadnought, all related to her powers.
- The Cavalry Arrives Late: Subverted in Project Y and The New Syndicate--in the former, they show up right on time to utterly destroy Robot Y; in the latter, they show up to save the heroes from being slaughtered by Shiva.
- The Charmer: Adam.
- Chick Magnet: Axel gets plenty of attention before Blaze comes along.
- The Chessmaster: Mr. X. As Shiva says to him during a flashback in Duality:
You have been doing this for almost thirty years. Every President from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama himself has had no choice but to be a pawn in your game. Your influence not only in domestic but international affairs as well cannot be ignored, for it is considerable.
- City of Adventure: Los Angeles, where the story is set in the first two books (in the original games, the city was unnamed). Later adventures feature Chicago and locations in foreign lands such as China, Japan and Germany.
- Cloning Blues: The New Syndicate provides an inversion of the trope: Blaze doesn't react well to the revelation that the Syndicate created clones of her with DNA they stole from her during her childhood.
- The Coats Are Off: After his battlesuit is destroyed, X is left with nothing but a pair of suit pants and a murderous rage.
- Combat Pragmatist:
- Ash bites Joe Musashi on the arm during his second confrontation with the heroes in Shadow Hand. Not that it does him any good...
- Anthrax proves to be this when Adam challenges him in Behind the World. He simply shoots Adam instead of engaging in fisticuffs.
- Combination Attack: Blaze and Shiva combine their fireball power together to destroy Mr. X.
- Composite Character: Several Ascended Extras get this treatment. For example, Silver McLeod, The Dragon in The Rise of Dreadnought, is a composite of two pallet-swap enemies from the third game (Silver and McLeod, two of several Badass in a Nice Suit mooks who fired pistols at the heroes during gameplay); while Zamza, the Psycho for Hire from the same story, was originally named James Souther (in the second game, Zamza and Souther are separate names for two pallet-swap bosses).
- Corrupt Cop: As with the canon series, a lot of these prove to be a problem for the protagonists. Also, Lucius Hawk was one.
- Chief O'Hara, too, as revealed in Origins.
- Cowboy Cop: Axel, during Cygnus Threshold and Origins. Adam, too, but not to quite the same extent.
- Crazy Prepared: Mr. X had all sorts of contingency measures put in place in case some of his major plans failed, including making provisions for the potential failure of Project Y. A bio-genetic resurrection was one such backup plan.
- Critical Failure: Adam makes the mistake of kicking Shiva in the legs, having forgotten they were robotic.
- Crossover: Later books feature Joe Musashi as a recurring character and the cast of Final Fight make an appearance in Shadow Dancer. (Notably, both the Shinobi game series and the Streets of Rage series share developers from the same company, Team Shinobi.)
- Curb Stomp Battle: Shiva delivers one to the protagonists in The New Syndicate, despite being outnumbered five to one by them (though to be fair, he is using prosthetic legs that have increased his combat skills significantly).
- Cut the Juice: Adam somehow manages to stop a fast-moving truck by shooting the engine, and somehow not blowing it up.
- Dr. Zan, of course, is a heroic example.
- Karl Haupstein, the titular villain in The Rise of Dreadnought, is an interesting, if macabre, case. According to Team Firestorm's briefings, he surgically removed his own eyelids, jawbone, fingers and toes and replaced them with mechanical implants in an effort to achieve physical perfection; at the time the story begins, he's been given a prosthetic body, with a steel rod to replace his by-then broken spine, and a metallic heart with a hydrogen power cell.
- Jet in Shadow Dancer is another villainous example.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Dreadnought proves himself to be this in The Rise of Dreadnought. He deliberately leaves false information about a pick-up of Rakushin explosives material where the heroes can find it, directing them to the supposed pick-up point--and by the time they realize they've been played and were lured into a trap, The Dragon has already picked up the materials at the real location.
- Dark Messiah: How Shiva perceives himself in The New Syndicate.
- Darker and Edgier: In contrast to the games, where the canon back-story was already pretty dark.
- Dead Guy, Junior: Axel and Blaze's first child, Max, named for their departed friend.
- Deal with the Devil: Duality reveals that Chief O'Hara chose subservience to Mr. X in exchange for seven million dollars and his children's lives being spared.
- Death by Sex: Rudra kills a Syndicate traitor while having sex with him in Shadow Hand.
- Determinator: All the main characters qualify.
- Deuteragonist: Blaze, after being introduced in Origins (the second story of the saga).
- Depraved Bisexual: Ash, which isn't actually too far off from his canon game portrayal.
- Disappeared Dad: Adam and Skate were raised single-handedly by their mother.
- Dismantled MacGuffin: The nine Kaeyus Infernus artifacts in Behind the World, which have been scattered across religious sites of varying faiths worldwide. Supposedly, if brought together, the nine artifacts act as a key to another dimension inhabited by "beings possessed of fantastical evil" worshiped by ancient Egyptians as gods; prior to the start of the story, Leon Shiva had collected seven of them.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Used by Blaze to lure two guards away from their posts in Origins, and again in Duality to lure another guard into being killed by Adam. It helps that Blaze isn't shy about nudity.
- The Dragon:
- Haku-oh is this for Lucius Hawk in Cygnus Threshold.
- Of course, there's also Leon Shiva for Mr. X, like in the games.
- Silver McLeod is this for Dreadnought in The Rise of Dreadnought. He's not quite so loyal.
- The jetpack-powered Jet (the cyborg version from the third SOR game) serves as Sauros' Dragon in Shadow Dancer.
- Rudra to Shiva in Duality.
- Anthrax to Enigma in Behind the World.
- Dragon with an Agenda: Surprisingly enough, Mr. X himself in Sons of Darkness. The titular beings revived him following the events of Shadow Hand to serve their purposes, but he's intent on learning the secret of their power so he can rule the world.
- Driven to Suicide: Axel's sister Tina in Behind the World, courtesy of Enigma.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Happens to Blaze's new boyfriend in The New Syndicate when he's killed during an attack on her that's been orchestrated by the Syndicate.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Axel is seen doing this when first introduced in The New Syndicate, due to being depressed after Blaze has left him.
- Drugs Are Bad: The drug Fire, available in pill form, gives an energetic high but is highly addictive; ingesting three pills for the purposes of a training demonstration causes an X-Robot to go berserk and almost kill Shiva and Mr. X. Blaze is an addict as well, a fact that worries Axel. She's later shown to be taking heroin via injection in The New Syndicate, but by Shadow Hand she's gotten herself clean and sober.
- The End of the World as We Know It:
- As revealed in Shadow Hand, Mr. X's ultimate plan for world domination consisted of sending the "Battlegroup," heavily-modified Project Y robots, to lay waste to all major cities across the globe.
- In Behind the World, Enigma wants to unleash literal Hell on Earth.
- Eye Scream: In The Rise of Dreadnought, Kazuyuki Harakiri threatens to torture Blaze by putting a lit cigarette into her eye (among other implied unpleasant torture methods) and he actually burns her with the cigarette one centimeter away from the eyeball to show he's not bluffing. Unfortunately for him, however...
- Fallen Hero: Shiva, in this continuity. In Shadow Hand it's revealed that he served in the Gulf War, but when he was informed that his father and sister had been killed (although unknown to him, Rudra had in fact survived), he went insane with grief, turned a gun on several innocent civilians, and was imprisoned for it. He would later be drafted into serving the Syndicate.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Mercy me, where to start? Throughout the saga, we have varying examples of heads being cut off, throats being slashed, persons cut down in a hail of bullets, characters bleeding to death in agony, one minor character being burned alive, at least three noteworthy examples of Impaled with Extreme Prejudice...and without giving away any spoilers, at least one character's death actually occurs in front of her children.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Anthrax ends up eaten and torn apart. Repeatedly.
- Fetish: Shadow Hand establishes that Rudra gets a rather perverse sexual rush from every successful assassination job she does.
- Fighting Your Friend: Adam is forced to do this against Axel/Enigma in Duality.
- Food Porn: Meals get described right down to the last tasty detail. In Origins, for example, the full-course meal at Axel and Blaze's first dinner date is described from start to finish, and later on the narrative goes to great lengths to describe the steak Mr. X shares with the two when he has them prisoner.
- Friend on the Force: Adam continues on as a cop after Axel and Blaze quit, and in The New Syndicate he uses his FBI connections to get the heroes clearance into areas they wouldn't be able to access otherwise.
- Genius Bruiser: Max Hatchett, the wrestler from the second game, is the chairman of a pharmaceutical company in this continuity. Also, Onihime and Yasha (Mona and Lisa from the third game) are Syndicate scientists as well as fighters.
- A God Am I: Mr. X expresses this view in Project Y, despite being a Brain In a Jar by this point. One can't blame him, though, since he's remotely and mentally controlling a 20-foot-tall Humongous Mecha that has the heroes running for their lives.
Mr. X: You can't stop me! I am God now!
- The Twelfth One, one of twelve perfected Super Soldier projects, makes a similar declaration even as she's beating the crap out of the protagonists in The New Syndicate.
Twelfth One: I am the most advanced of all the Homo Superior...I...am your God!
- Socharis makes this declaration twice in the same scene in Shadow Hand.
Socharis: I am Socharis! I can do anything! I am God!
- Good People Have Good Sex: Axel and Blaze have Their First Time together in a sewer. Don't worry, it's not as icky as it sounds.
- Grey and Gray Morality: Shiva's self-description in Duality.
Shiva: I’m not a "good guy" or a "bad guy." I’m just a guy, doing my own thing, and I answer to nobody.
- Groin Attack: Joe Musashi punches the Hand right in the family jewels during their clash in The New Syndicate. Shortly afterwards in the same story, Shiva kicks Adam in the same location.
- Axel pulls this rather effectively on Socharis by kicking him in the groin in Shadow Hand.
- Guns Akimbo: On both sides of the war with the Syndicate.
- Guns vs. Swords: Discussed between Joe Musashi and his sensei Harada, during a flashback the former has while meditating in Chapter 12 of The New Syndicate.
Musashi: There is one thing that has been troubling me, Sensei...I have spent years studying the arts of ninjitsu, archery, and the katana. Yet any man with a gun can kill me without effort. If I stand in front of a man with an automatic weapon and raise my sword, he will shoot.
- Heel Face Turn: Shiva and Rudra in Shadow Hand.
- Face Heel Turn: Both of them between Sons of Darkness and Duality.
- Hoist by His Own Petard:
- Origins: Mr. X gets beheaded by one of his own robots.
- The Rise of Dreadnought: The Big Bad gets sent flying down into the same blade-filled trap he initially threw Axel and Skate into.
- Humongous Mecha: Robot Y, standing at 20 feet tall and armed to the teeth with More Dakka.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Blaze expresses this wish in The Rise of Dreadnought after single-handedly decimating Kazuyuki Harakiri's entire private army via her Super-Powered Evil Side.
- Identity Amnesia: It's revealed in Duality that Axel suffered this following a car accident, taking on the identity of Enigma.
- I'm a Humanitarian: Blaze (a feral child at the time) killed and ate a baby boy in the back-story, as outlined in Origins, and has a nightmare about it decades later in the present day during The New Syndicate.
- Zamza in The Rise of Dreadnought.
- Immune to Bullets: The Twelfth One and Dreadnought, the latter by virtue of being a cyborg with a prosthetic body. His creation, Vehelits, has a body that seems to absorb bullets (a trait shared with the Twelfth One).
- Implausible Fencing Powers: Dreadnought, noted as having been a master fencer before he got his cyber-body, is capable of using twin blades to deflect a whole hail of bullets fired from multiple handguns all at the same time.
- Infant Immortality: Mercifully played straight in Behind the World with Max and Jennifer, Axel and Blaze's children. Despite the horrific environment they've been brought to in the wake of their kidnapping, they manage to make it to the end of the story largely unharmed.
- Interquel: The first six chapters of Shadow Hand, the seventh book in the saga, take place during the events between Origins and Shadow Dancer, and outline what Rudra was doing during said books.
- Invisibility: One of Sauros' ninja techniques.
- It Gets Easier: Subverted in Origins (Blaze has trouble coming to terms with the idea of killing someone even as she and Axel simultaneously shoot one of Mr. X's henchmen) and again in Duality (the narrative notes that for Adam, killing has never gotten easier despite his past experiences as a cop, even after he's just shot dead several thugs about to gang-rape Blaze).
- It's All My Fault: Blaze blames herself for her new boyfriend's death at the machinations of the Syndicate in The New Syndicate, since she was the primary target and he was an innocent bystander. Later in Shadow Hand, she blames herself for Max's death in Shadow Dancer--something that Skate blames himself for because he was out of action at the time.
- It's Personal: The Mad Gear conflict, which forms part of the story for Shadow Dancer. Related to this, an attack on one of his childhood friends by the Union Lizard organization prompts Joe Musashi to return to America and get involved with the conflict.
- Jekyll and Hyde: Axel and Enigma.
- Jet Pack: Jet.
- Ki Attacks: They don't show up in the saga until Blaze uses her fireball attack on Shiva in Project Y. In her case, it's a side-effect of her use of the Fire drug in Origins. That side effect came about in the first place because of genetic tampering by the Syndicate.
- Axel doesn't show his Dragon Wing special attack until Duality, the penultimate book in the saga. It's while he's Brainwashed and Crazy as Enigma, and due to experiments by the Syndicate.
- Kick the Dog: Roo, the boxing kangaroo, gets constant cruel treatment from his handler, Bruce the Kangaroo Master, in Shadow Dancer (mimicking Bruce's treatment of the kangaroo with his whip in the games).
- Killed Mid-Sentence: In Shadow Hand, Ash kills Dr. Dahm right before the latter can tell the protagonists how to stop the "Battlegroup" Project Y robots that are laying waste to the world's major cities.
- Killed Off for Real: Even main characters from the games aren't exempt from this. And the body count just skyrockets up until Behind the World, wherein Shiva, Zan, Adam and eventually Blaze all die. Even before that, previous books saw the deaths of Max and Skate.
- Knuckle-Cracking: Shiva gets this twice; once before his fight against Mr. X in Shadow Hand, and again against Adam in Duality.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia: The Syndicate attempts this on Blaze at the end of The New Syndicate. They don't count on her memories coming back only a few minutes later.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Axel wants to start a family, but Blaze can't have kids due to being infertile. In the first chapter of The New Syndicate, it's revealed that she broke up with him because of it, though they eventually got back together. Then by the end of Shadow Hand, the infertility has been resolved and they have a baby on the way.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Skate would rather rush headlong into a fight than surrender or heed others' warnings to wait; however, this attitude almost gets him shot in The Rise of Dreadnought and does get him shot in Shadow Hand.
- Lightning Bruiser: Abadede.
- Lock and Load:
- A realistic subversion occurs in Origins--when Axel has to temporarily leave Blaze by herself, he leaves a pistol with her. She admits she's never held one before, so he shows her how it works. The explanation goes over her head, though, and when the time comes for her to use it, she tries to pull the hammer back...and ends up spilling all the bullets out of the gun instead. She has some difficulty getting the bullets back into the clip, but manages to work the gun correctly on the second try. Later, she gets better with firearms after receiving some basic gun-training from Adam.
- Played straight with Skate--he's never stated to have had any prior firearms training, yet the first time he's given a high-powered weapon the narrative doesn't outline him having any difficulty using it. (Although one could make the case that Adam, a cop with extensive firearms training, might have given him a few pointers outside of the narrative.)
- Ludicrous Gibs: Joe Musashi's slaughter of three would-be assassins out to kill a hospital-bound Blaze in The New Syndicate results in this.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: In this continuity, Rudra is actually Kagami Shiva, Leon Shiva's half-sister. This differs from the fan-made Streets of Rage Remake, where Rudra first appears (she's not in the original canon games); there, the two are completely unrelated to each other beyond being associated with The Syndicate. The only reason this isn't spoilered is because it gets revealed fairly early on, during the third and fourth chapters of Shadow Hand, although Shiva himself doesn't find out until Chapter 21.
- Machete Mayhem: Anthrax's weapon of choice for melee combat in Behind the World.
- Mad Bomber: In the back-story of Duality, the man known as "Enigma" was responsible for six bombings that killed six FBI agents.
- Mad Scientist: Dr. Dahm.
- Made of Iron: Well, Dr. Zan, Dreadnought and Jet are literal examples, all three having cybernetic bodies. Playing the trope straight, how the hell else can you explain Enigma surviving a frigging gunshot to the head?
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Played straight with Adam and Axel in the first story, Cygnus Threshold.
- Manipulative Bastard: Mr. X.
- Meaningful Name: After Axel's amnesia in Duality, even his name is an enigma to him. Rudra takes on her codename (which is the name of the Hindu god of storms) as a rejection of the surname Shiva (due to family abandonment issues).
- Mind Over Matter: Socharis, and later Enigma in Behind the World. Also Blaze, post-The New Syndicate.
- Mind Rape: Enigma pulls this on Blaze in Behind the World, giving her a mental image of him actually raping her.
- Ms. Fanservice: Blaze isn't afraid to get nude, and the narrative has her shedding clothes whenever needed. To add to the fan-service, in one instance she has A Date with Rosie Palms while taking a shower.
- Mission Control: Murphy, Adam's FBI partner and ally to the protagonists.
- Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: Jerrin.
- My Greatest Failure: It's revealed at the end of Duality that Adam wishes he could have done more to prevent Skate's death in Shadow Hand.
- A Nazi by Any Other Name: Mr. X's art collection includes a statue in the shape of a swastika. This is lampshaded by Zan.
- New Neo City: Neo London is christened the capital of the New World Order.
- Nightmare Face: Dreadnought, as a result of his self-mutilations prior to the events of the story; he usually keeps his face hidden behind a skintight mask for this reason. The narrative paints a lovely picture for the reader.
McLeod and Zamza were used to it and didn't care anyway, but occasionaly he had to interact with others; rarely could those people handle the sight of his wet-looking eyes, bulging and lidless, the raw-gummed, skullish face that was exposed by taut skin and a mouth that had no lips, no lower jaw bone.
- No, Mr. Bond, I Expect You to Dine: In Chapter 22 of Origins, Mr. X treats the captive Axel and Blaze to dinner.
- Not So Harmless: Though it's already established that he's a Syndicate member, when first introduced Ash appears to be nothing more than a Depraved Bisexual who runs a BDSM-themed night-club. Turns out he's a Lightning Bruiser who keeps a gun hidden in his cap and knows how to use it.
- The Obi-Wan: Dr. Zan serves as this for Blaze during Project Y, with regards to dealing with her new-found Ki Attacks.
- Off with His Head: Happens to two characters in the saga--Mr. X in Origins (he gets better) and Sauros in Shadow Dancer (he doesn't).
- Official Couple: Axel and Blaze for the first three books, though they broke up some time prior to The New Syndicate because of the Law of Inverse Fertility. They eventually get back together in that story, and he proposes to her at the end of it.
- Oh Crap:
- Beano, a mini-boss character from the second game and an Elite Mook in Cygnus Threshold, has such a moment during a vehicular chase in which the tow truck he's commandeered crashes into a car with a surfboard mounted on top--specifically, right before said surfboard gets propelled by the impact through his windshield to impale him.
- Shiva and Mr. X share a collective moment of this during Origins, when the X-Robot (fueled by three tablets of the drug Fire) goes berserk and utterly brutalizes Shiva's soldiers during its training demonstration. Then it looks in their direction...
Mr. X: He's looking at us!
- Both of them get separate moments later in the story--Mr. X before being Hoist by His Own Petard, Shiva before the base gets blown up.
- Axel has this reaction in Project Y when Robot Y shows up during the final confrontation.
- Shiva gets such a moment again in The New Syndicate when he's knocked off the roof of his 70-story-high headquarters.
- Blue, one of Shiva's top-tier henchmen, has this reaction in the story's epilogue upon realizing that the attempt to mind-wipe Blaze has failed.
- Skate gets just such a moment in Shadow Hand right before Socharis shoots him dead.
- Adam has a moment of his own in Duality, upon realizing the World Devastator has been activated.
- Rudra later gets a moment of her own on realizing that Blaze's aura, which was suppressed through a Syndicate-given injection, has finally resurfaced...evidenced when Blaze redirects Rudra's energy-gun blast with a wave of her hand.
- Adam later has one in Behind the World just before he's shot by Anthrax.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Mr. X, Shiva, Dreadnought and Enigma all qualify.
- The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Syndicate's Inner Sanctum, mentioned frequently in preceding stories in the saga, consists of the organization's highest-ranking members, of whom only a few are mentioned by name at first--until their formal introduction by Mr. X in the third chapter of Shadow Hand, which is set sometime after the initial events of Origins. This particular group, led by Mr. X himself, consists of Shiva, Electra, the twins Onihime and Yasha, Simon Jerrin, Dr. Henry Dahm, Electra, Abadede, Rocky Bear, and Villem Antonio.
- One Steve Limit: Averted with the appearance of several Galsias and Garcias; all of them are about as unremarkable as their in-game counterparts.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: While not a ghost himself, Enigma gains the ability to become ethereal (that is, intangible) while he's in Hell Los Angeles in Behind the World. Additionally, he gains Mind Over Matter powers which he uses to make Tina jump off a rooftop in the real world.
- Outrun the Fireball: Axel and Blaze escape a sewer being filled with petroleum in Origins.
- The protagonists pull this off in The Rise of Dreadnought by way of a train heading out of the Big Bad's underground lair.
- Papa Wolf: Adam for his younger brother Skate, best exemplified in Shadow Dancer. Bruce the Kangaroo Master slashes Skate in the face with a whip; Adam beats Bruce bloody in retaliation.
- Parental Abandonment: Axel's father was murdered twelve years before the beginning of the saga's continuity, and his mother died in a car accident shortly afterward. Blaze likewise lost her family at a tender age.
- Shadow Hand reveals that Shiva and Rudra's father was murdered, Shiva's mother died of breast cancer when he was a child, and Rudra never knew her mother (they're half-siblings).
- Pet the Dog: Rudra shows a genuine moment of sympathy for the heroes following Skate's death.
- Pint-Sized Powerhouse: As in the games, Skate is capable of handling opponents twice his size, though here it's emphasized that he has to put his whole body weight into certain attacks.
- Plot Hole: A glaring one in Sons of Darkness. Abadede is killed during the confrontation with Axel and Blaze in Chapter 5...but later inexplicably shows up during the interlude following Chapter 8, with no explanation as to how.
- Matthew Drury actually has an explanation for this: originally, had Drury been able to flesh out Sons of Darkness the way he'd wanted to, Abadede was going to be Not Quite Dead following his fight with Axel and Blaze, with his subsequent return being a shock for both the characters and the readers.
- Precision F-Strike: Various times, even within the narrative itself.
- Rape as Backstory: Blaze, in this continuity. It's disconcerting that she can so casually talk about what she experienced in her childhood while switching back and forth between banter about the food she's eating.
Blaze: It's ironic. I've been raped so many times in my life...I've almost gotten used to it. How sick is that?
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Captain Jack Wyndam in Cygnus Threshold, and the U.S. President in The Rise of Dreadnought. In the latter case, Blaze disobeyed direct federal orders for Team Firestorm not to pursue Dreadnought...and the President, heading the subsequent trial, only fines Blaze $3.5 million and allows her to continue heading the team instead of sending her to prison, on the grounds that her disobedience ended up averting the Big Bad's intended nuclear war.
- The Red Baron: In his native China, Haku-Oh was known as "God of the Lance".
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Axel and Adam, respectively.
- The Remnant: By Behind the World, this is what the Syndicate is reduced to.
- The Reveal: Much to the horror of the protagonists in Shadow Hand. Socharis the Dragon Lord is Mr. X.
- Robot Me: Mr. X has a number of these to serve as stand-ins for him (an element taken from the third game, which is why it's not spoiler-tagged).
- Rollerblade Good: Skate, just like in the games. Here, the narrative makes a point of playing up his roller-blades being an integral part of his fighting style, and it also gets very descriptive about the kind of damage he does to opponents' faces with them.
- Room Disservice: Blue Swan attempts to get rid of Busta by disguising the hitman as a bellboy.
- Sadistic Choice: Silver McLeod gives one to the heroes when they have him cornered in The Rise of Dreadnought. He reveals that there are a number of bombs planted throughout Manhattan, and if the good guys kill him or otherwise sabotage his mission to retrieve Dreadnought's weapon, the bombs will go off. However, the alternative for the heroes is just as bad--if McLeod gets away, he'll have a powerful diffusion engine at his disposal. In the end, the welfare of the city trumps the man's arrest, and they have to let him go.
- Say My Name: Done by Axel in Behind the World. "Blaaaaaaaze!".
- Secret Secret Keeper: It's revealed in Duality that Adam and Tina, Axel's sister, as well as several other individuals within the FBI, were this regarding the true identity of Enigma.
- Send in the Clones: Spoken verbatim by Shiva.
- Sense Loss Sadness: Dr. Zan, due to being a cyborg, can no longer enjoy the various pleasures of life that most humans take for granted, such as being able to enjoy food or intimate relations. He angsts about this for a while, especially because he was turned into a cyborg against his will.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money: Mr. X.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Axel was known to disobey orders during his days as a cop. Blaze also pulls this to avert a nuclear war.
- Shock and Awe: Dr. Zan, similar to his standard special attack from the games. Also, Electra can deliver electric shocks via her whips, also like in the games.
- Shoot the Dog: The protagonists are forced to do this to Dr. Zan in The New Syndicate.
- Shout-Out: Plenty of them within the saga.
- Cygnus Threshold has Axel playing X-Men: Children of the Atom in one flashback to his youth.
- The prologue of Origins has a segment that's lifted almost word-for-word from a similar scene in the Jurassic Park novel.
- The aforementioned crossovers as well as Dr. Dahm being sent to Arkham Asylum.
- The climax of The Rise of Dreadnought where Axel and gang battle a mutated Vehilits within a train is similar to the climax of Resident Evil 2.
- On that note, the ending of The New Syndicate is similar to the beginning of the second Resident Evil film, Apocalypse, complete with Blaze saying Alice's "My name is Alice and I remember everything" line.
- Duality: Shiva's world-destroying superweapon is called a World Devastator.
- Sir Swearsalot: Blaze is Miss Swears-A-Lot, to the point that the F-word may as well be her Catch Phrase. She's not at fault for it.
- Slasher Smile: Enigma.
- Start of Darkness: Mr. X had one, according to the saga's time-line summary (provided in supplementary material). In his back-story, he was a war veteran who was captured and tortured while on a tour of duty in Vietnam; he blamed the government for leaving him to die and decided that all governments should be ruled over by him in order to fix their corruption. To that end, he became the head of the Syndicate and, on the legitimate side, the most powerful person in the U.S. Senate.
- Super Speed: Enigma develops this.
- Super-Powered Evil Side: Blaze's worries about how well she can control her rapidly-growing Ki Attacks becomes a plot point in The Rise of Dreadnought.
- Super Soldier: The fourth story, The New Syndicate, gives us several clones of Blaze who were genetically engineered to serve the Syndicate.
- The Syndicate: The Blue Swan organization in Cygnus Threshold is responsible for drug and weapons-running along the United States' West Coast; of course, it turns out to be only a subsidiary group for the canon nameless syndicate. Later books feature the New Syndicate, run by the Big Bad Duumvirate above, the Shadow Alliance in The Rise of Dreadnought, and the Union Lizard gang in Shadow Dancer.
- Take Over the World: This is Mr. X's main goal.
- Tattooed Crook: All members of the Blue Swan gang have tattoos of a blue swan somewhere on their bodies, most usually the forearms. During Cygnus Threshold, the only clue Axel has to his father's killer's identity is that the person responsible had a tattoo like this. Then there's Abadede in Sons of Darkness, bearing facial tattoos just like his game counterpart.
- That Man Is Dead: Anthrax says this regarding his past identity, Skate Hunter.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The description of Wood Oak City's destruction via bomb explosion in the second chapter of Project Y (mirroring the destruction of the similarly-named city in the Japanese version of the third game).
- Tyke Bomb: Project Y reveals that Blaze was intended to be one for the Syndicate.
- Unstoppable Rage: Axel unleashes a lot of this on Enigma when the latter kills Blaze.
Axel: She! Was! My! Wife! (emphasizes each word with a punch)
- Villainous Crossdresser: Ash.
- Villainous Friendship: Mr. X and Shiva have these moments in Origins, from sharing black-market cigars to sharing little black books.
- Was Once a Man: Zamza, in this continuity. While humanoid in appearance, it's made clear that he's a freakish result of experiments conducted by Dreadnought back during World War 2; the heroes later learn that he used to be James Souther, one of the Nazi party's prisoners of war. (In the games, Zamza is a normal human who happens to wield Wolverine Claws on his gloves and is a boss character in the second game, and Souther--the name itself being a Shout-Out to a major enemy from Fist of the North Star--is a pallet-swap name for a similar enemy.)
- Vehelits, as well, in this continuity; he/it was similarly experimented on by Dreadnought (in canon, it's a mechanical amusement park attraction and a mini-boss in the second game).
- We Are Everywhere: The Syndicate has connections in every known area of the system, from localized police departments to as high as the Senate.
- We Can Rule Together: Lucius Hawk makes this offer to Axel and Adam when they confront him, using the same dialogue that Mr. X would make to the player in the first game.
- Weapon of Mass Destruction: The Gargantua in The Rise of Dreadnought, a modified Globemaster cargo airlifter with enough space to house the Rakushin Diffusion Engine (designed by the titular Big Bad during World War 2), and armed with a multiple-launch nuclear rocket system and the latest stealth and deflection-shield technology. Additionally, the diffusion engine itself is capable of storing fifty-five Rakushin nuclear warheads, of which one alone has enough power to destroy a major city. In Dreadnought's words, the aircraft is "a destroyer of worlds."
Dreadnought: It will serve as the largest aerial-nuke bomber known to mankind.
- The World Devastator in Duality, as described by Shiva, is a ship capable of air travel and orbital deployment, with its primary function being a singularity cannon capable of creating a black hole in the Earth's core that will grow large enough to create an inverted Earthshattering Kaboom.
Shiva: Quantum gravity will pull the planet, atom by atom, into the singularity, effectively sucking it inside out, crushing its mass into an infinitely tiny event horizon of zero-volume. The black hole will theoretically be sustained long enough to absorb the moon as well.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Dr. Henry Dahm in Project Y, regarding the creation of the X-Robots.
Zan: We were working for the good of mankind! Why are you following Mr. X and his fascist obsessions? Can't you see what you're doing?
- Wham! Episode: The fourth story, The New Syndicate, is the first one to show the death of a main protagonist.
- What the Hell, Hero?: In Duality, Blaze calls out Adam upon finding out about his role in covering up Axel's disappearance during Enigma's Mad Bomber spree in the past because Axel and Enigma are the same person.
Blaze: Adam, I can’t believe you’ve kept this a secret for so long. Don’t you think something like this was bound to happen?
- Whip It Good: Electra, just like her game counterpart. Also, Bruce the Kangaroo Master in Shadow Dancer, again just like his game counterpart.
- Would Hit a Girl:
- Axel. Of course, only if the woman in question was just pointing a gun at him moments before...
- Mr. X would, too, and for the same reason. Of course, he'd probably do it anyway.
- Max does it to Electra (a female mook from the games and an Elite Mook in this continuity) in Project Y.
- Enigma smacks Blaze around aplenty in Behind the World.
- Wrecked Weapon: In Shadow Hand Mr. X destroys Musashi's sword, which belonged to his father, with his new battlesuit. The ninja is so wounded his eyes fill with tears.
- You Killed My Father: Haku-oh killed Axel's father AND mother.