Speedrunner Anthopants is one of the best Streets of Rage players in the world, but even he couldn’t complete Streets of Rage 2 on Mania difficulty as the character Max without dying...until this weekend, that is, when he downed the final boss with a mere sliver of health left. His reaction upon becoming the first to ever accomplish the nigh-impossible feat is priceless.
Anthopants has been breaking Streets of Rage speedrun records for years. He’s a fixture at the top of Speedrun.com’s Streets of Rage 2 and 3 charts, and he showed off his skill during last year’s Summer Games Done Quick event. Beating Streets of Rage 2 on its highest difficulty is easy for Anthopants, but beating it without dying is another thing. He managed to pull off the feat for the first time with the character Axel in November of 2018.
Compared to Max, however, Axel is easy mode. He’s got the fastest punch in the game, as well as the best blitz super move, the “Grand Upper.” Speaking to Kotaku over email, Anthopants explains why beating the game without dying as the wrestler Max is so much more difficult.
“Max is the hardest to play the game with. You need the fastest reflexes, most knowledge of enemies timing, you have to use his entire move-set and know, in real-time on the spot, when to use what when,” said Anthopants. “You have to think ahead 10 steps, get to step 1 and instantly think ahead a whole new 10 steps when things don’t go as you planned (they never do). Once you get good with Max it pays off in big ways, he’s the fastest to speedrun the game with due to his massive damage but he’s also the easiest for enemies to hit due to his big hitbox, slow walk and punch speed.”
Anthopants got his first near-deathless with Max in December of last year, weeks after his Axel run. Since then he’s attempted the no death Max Mania run dozens of times. He’s documented the times he came close to his goal in a series of “No Death Fail” videos on his YouTube channel. They’re painful to watch.
Anthopants grinded for his no death Axel mania run for nearly eight months, and then jumped straight into mastering Max. “My problem was that I did it with Axel, but in my heart, I’m a Max player. Max is the reason why I love Streets of Rage 2 as much as I do. Despite all the pain that seven and a half months of grinding with Axel gave me, I jumped back into it so I could get it with Max.”
Now, after all of that pain, he’s gotten the payoff. After battling through an incredibly tense stage seven, he advanced to the eighth and final stage, Mr. X’s office. With maybe one hit’s worth of health left, the machine gun-wielding boss fell. The final battle starts at the 58:30 mark in the video below.
His reaction is intense. There’s a brief cheer, followed by two minutes or so of heavy breathing. In the YouTube description for the video, Anthopants says,“I held some very extreme focus during level 8 for a little too long so I spent the entire end credits making sure I didn’t go into shock.”
Too intense? No worries—Anthopants followed up the victory vid with a version that had commentary, giving him a chance to share the thrill of becoming the first to not let Max die in Mania mode.
What’s next for Anthopants? “If I’m really smart I won’t ever go for a no death again. For now, I’ll put in Max speedruns, which is fast and crazy just the way I like it.”