The game features several changes over Streets of Rage and Streets of Rage 2, such as a more complex plot, inclusion of character dialog, longer levels, more in-depth scenarios and faster gameplay. Weapons can be integrated with unique moves with certain characters, hidden characters were added, and a few cutscenes were included to give the story greater depth. Much like the previous two games, Streets of Rage 3 is a side-scrolling beat ’em up in which up to two players fight against waves of enemies. Players can choose from returning characters Axel, Blaze, and Skate, along with a new character named Dr. Zan, a robot who automatically converts every weapon picked up into a ball of energy. By fulfilling certain conditions, two bonus characters, Shiva and Roo (known as Victy in Japan), can be unlocked for play, with a third unlockable character, Ash, being exclusive to the Japanese release.