I liked two better. Three seemed to try to give "what people wanted" too much. It seems pumped with extras, and is very hard to beat (I couldn't). The bosses are also extremely hard, even on the easiest settings.
But hey, you could always rent before you buy them. If you know what I mean...
reason for Streets of Rage 1 is i think the music is the BEST of the whole series, otherwise its fair but not as good as the 2 sequels (i paid about 10 bucks canadian for it a while ago so i thought why not get it for the music!)
reason for Streets of Rage 2 is its an excellent all around game with great music (although rather easy to beat even on hard difficulties)
reason for Streets of Rage 3 is its rediculosy hard and i have yet to beat it without cheating since at that time i could only rent it too bad now its a collectors item on ebay otherwise i would have bought it by now and complete my collection
SOR 1: Ugly graphics. Great, fantastic, amazing classic videogame music. I think this one may be the most fun all around, and I'm not tired of it yet.
SOR 2: Good graphics, feels the most sluggish of the series. Many consider this one the best of the three. Also has an exceptional soundtrack but not of the same classic quality as the first, in my opinion. In all a really good beat 'em up. Added the enemy life bars, which is kinda helpful, sort of. Got rid of the "A button calls the police" feature and replaced it with a desperation move like thing that drains the lifebar when used (real original, huh?). I still like this one the least of the three but it is still very close
SOR 3: The fastest, "loosest" feeling game of the series and probably also the best looking. Very different music, not like Yuzo Koshiro's standard "big city dance" style at all, more dark techno edge. You'll love that or hate it. I think this game is fun, but it takes a while to get used to the feel. Also added special move gauge that fills up and allows you to do a "rescue move" without draining the life gauge.
Now that I think about it, I love them all pretty much equally... sorry for wasting your time.
I think the ONLY reason men like SOR is because of blade lol. How many others here ONLY use female fighters in games? I know I do....I prefer the speed over strength....I know my sis and I never lost when we were Kitana or Meleena....(Or chun li)