Streets of Rage
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|Streets of Rage|
|Series||Streets of Rage|
|Genre(s)||Beat 'em up|
|Media/distribution||4-megabit cartridge, digital distribution|
Streets of Rage, known in Japan as Bare Knuckle: Ikari no Tekken (ベア・ナックル 怒りの鉄拳 lit. "Bare Knuckle: Furious Iron Fist" ), is a side-scrolling beat 'em up released by Sega in 1991 for the Sega Mega Drive. It is the first installment of the Streets of Rage series which was followed by Streets of Rage 2 and Streets of Rage 3. The game was also converted over to Sega's Game Gear, Mega-CD and Master System. In 2007, the game was released for the Wii's Virtual Console in North America and Europe, and in 2009 it was released for the iOS via the App Store. The game was again made available as part of Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection in 2009 on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.
There was also a comic strip series based upon the games which appeared in Sonic the Comic. These three stories are based on Streets of Rage 2 and do not feature Adam. The game features an acclaimed chiptune soundtrack by Yuzo Koshiro, who released it as an album in the Japanese music market.
Similar to the game Golden Axe which was released two years prior by Sega, enemies walk onto the screen from both sides as well as occasionally appearing from other locations. The player must defeat each opponent to progress through eight locations, known as rounds. With the exception of round 7, there is a boss battle at the end of every round with a disproportionately large enemy. Unlike its sequels, none of the enemies are named within the game (only in the Japanese version's manual) and only the bosses have life gauges. As in contemporary games Double Dragon and Final Fight, weapons can be picked up, and these include bottles and drainpipes. In Streets of Rage, the special attack is assistance from a police car which will pull up at the level's left and fire explosives, taking health from all enemies. The player is given one special attack per life or per level, with power-ups shaped like police cars giving another. In round 8, the special attack can't be used.
Depending on whether the game is played as one-player or two-player co-op and the player accepts or rejects Mr. X's offer to become his henchman, there is a possibility for an alternate ending where the player becomes the new head of the crime syndicate.
The game's plot is explained in a cut scene that appears immediately after the game is loaded. The following text scrolls down the screen accompanied by music:
"What was once a happy, peaceful, productive city, full of life and activity, has fallen into the hands of a secret criminal syndicate. The leader of the syndicate has somehow managed to keep his identity a secret. The organization soon absorbed the city government. They even had the police force in their clutches. Looting, random violence and destruction are rampant. No one is safe walking the streets, day or night...
"As the chaos continued at full strength, three young police officers tried to establish a special attack unit. They were repeatedly turned down by their superiors, most of whom had been bought by the organization or were too afraid to make a stand. One day, when they could no longer stand by and watch their city being demolished, they quit the force!'
"Adam Hunter, Axel Stone and Blaze Fielding decided to forgo their careers in legal law enforcement and put their lives on the line. They are without weapons, but each possesses great hand-to-hand combat abilities. Take them into the heart of the city and battle the most dangerous wave of bad dudes and chicks ever assembled. Make the city a place where people no longer have to walk the Streets of Rage!"
There are two possible endings to the game. The "Good" ending is achieved for simply completing the game. The "Bad Ending" can only be achieved in 2-player mode when the final boss is confronted. When he asks you to join him, one player says "Yes", and the other says "No", he will tell the player who said "Yes" to prove his loyalty by killing the other player. If the player who said "Yes" wins this fight, and then turns down the boss's final offer, he must fight the boss alone. If he succeeds, the "Bad Ending" will play, where the character sits on the final boss's chair, with the text "You Became the Boss! You are Great!". After the credits roll, the character laughs, and then the words "BAD END" appear. However, if both players say "Yes" (or if it's chosen in 1-player mode), the boss will ask to test the players' loyalty and sends them back to an earlier stage to fight, and they must replay the game from that level.
Adam Hunter (left), an ex-cop and an accomplished boxer. He is noticeably slower but stronger than the other characters. This is Adam's only appearance as a playable character in the Streets of Rage series (until the fan-based remakes), although he and his kid brother, Skate, figure largely into the plot of the sequels.
Axel Stone (center), an ex-cop and skilled martial artist. He is the most moderate of the three characters, as he is slightly slower but stronger than Blaze and faster yet slightly weaker than Adam. His only negative attribute is his weak jumping ability compared to the other characters. Along with Blaze, Axel features prominently in each game of the Streets of Rage series.
Blaze Fielding (right), an ex-cop and judo expert. She is somewhat weaker than the other characters but is the most agile of the three as she can jump the highest and move about more quickly. Her jump attacks have the longest range, and (because of her judo abilities) her throws and body slams have the highest damage. Along with Axel, she is playable in all three games of the series.
Back-Up Enforcer (not shown) He is a non-playable character and is only seen during "special attack" and during the ending credits. The one good cop left on the force, he has secretly allied himself with the three player characters and so provides fire support to all three throughout the game and is summoned when the player is in tight situations, he clears the area with either a missile-launcher or heavy-duty machine gun.
Versions and ports 
In Japan, the game and the series is known as Bare Knuckle.
8-bit versions 
The Game Gear version suffers from poor color palette and gameplay. It also omits Adam from the game and does not have the sprite animation for kneeing enemies. It features 2 players support by cable link. It also has only 6 rounds instead of 8.
The Master System version has a different graphic engine and gameplay mechanics, not being a port from the Game Gear version as was common in the later years of the system. It also features a boss on Round 6 which is not found in any other version of the game. It is further simplified from the Game Gear version, with cut-down music and introduction, a lack of any 2 player support and typically only one or two enemy characters on-screen at any time.
Sega ported Streets of Rage to arcade cabinets using both their Mega Tech and Mega Play arcade boards, the difference being that in the Mega Tech version you pay for time, not credits.
A signature title and franchise for Sega during the Mega Drive era, the title was collected often: firstly Mega Games II (with Golden Axe and Revenge Of Shinobi) that was later bundled with the Sega Mega Drive.
Sega Classics Arcade Collection (a Mega-CD compilation with the two previously mentioned titles, plus Super Monaco GP and Columns, also available as in cartridge format for Mega Drive II). The voice effects for the characters in this version of the game were all redone.
Sega Genesis 6-PAK (composed of Streets of Rage, Sonic the Hedgehog, Columns, Revenge of Shinobi, Golden Axe and Super Hang-On); and Mega 6 (composed of Streets of Rage, World Cup Italia '90, Columns, Super Monaco GP, Revenge of Shinobi and Sonic the Hedgehog).
Streets of Rage, along with its two sequels, was included in the Japanese Version of the Sonic Gems Collection for the GameCube and PlayStation 2, but was omitted from the North American GameCube version to avoid it gaining a T rating, and also from the European GameCube and PlayStation 2 versions for similar reasons. They are now also available on GameTap.
In 2012, Streets of Rage Collection, a package of all three Streets of Rage games, was released on Xbox Live Arcade, as part of the Sega Vintage Collection range of titles. A PlayStation Network release has not been announced.
Virtual Console 
Handheld Console 
The handheld version of Streets of Rage was made available by Blaze Europe in November 2009. The console features both Streets of Rage 1 and Streets of Rage 3 and 16 other Sega Mega Drive titles.
Streets Of Rage was released for the iOS platform (that is, the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad) in 2009. Like most Genesis ports on the App Store, the emulation quality isn't where it should be, especially on the 3GS. Unlike all the other Streets of Rage/Bare Knuckle ports, the 2 player mode (and therefore the bad ending, as well as any cheats that require a 2nd controller) is completely disabled in this version. However, the demo (by waiting on the title screen) is played with 2 players, and the Bad Ending music is still playable under the Sound Test.
Also, the main menu screen (before actually starting the game) shows a zoomed-in version of the original box art.
MegaTech magazine said it had "excellent sprites, backdrops and brilliant music. Add in great gameplay and simultaneous two-player action and you've got an essential buy". Mega placed the game at #6 in their Top Mega Drive Games of All Time.
There were plans for two further sequels to Streets of Rage, one of which was developed by Core Design for the Sega Saturn, But Sega pulled the Streets of Rage name during development after a disagreement with Core about porting it to rival formats. The game was eventually released on the PlayStation, Windows and Nintendo 64 as Fighting Force.
Three six-part comic strip series based upon the games appeared in Sonic the Comic in the early 1990s (along with several other adaptations of popular Sega franchises). The first two of these was written by Mark Millar, who has since become popular writing The Authority for Wildstorm and Ultimate X-Men and The Ultimates for Marvel, while the third (and a Poster Mag story) was written by Nigel Kitching. Peter Richardson produced the artwork for all nineteen episodes. These three stories are based on Streets of Rage 2 and do not feature Adam.
The first story, simply entitled Streets of Rage, appeared in STC #7-12 and involved Axel, Blaze, and Max quitting the highly corrupt police force in order to do more good as vigilantes, taking down Max's ex-partner; the crime lord and martial artist Hawk.
The next serial, Skates' Story, appeared in STC #25-30 and introduced Skates, delinquent stepson of Murphy, a friend of Axel and his team and one of the few honest cops left on the force, who was unwillingly drawn into joining Axel's group after his parents were killed by Mr X.
A special one-off story, called The Facts of Life, appeared in "Sonic the Poster Mag" #7 and involved the heroes causing a racket by fighting one of the many street gangs in a sleeping neighborhood. The police arrive and arrest the thugs, as well as take the heroes to a junkyard for execution. Along the way, Axel explains why he, Blaze, and Max quit the force to a young rookie officer. At the junkyard, just as the officers are about to shoot Max, the rookie officer unlocks Blaze's handcuffs, who proceeds to beat the stuffing out of the cops, with Axel, Skates, and Max following shortly. After the dust clears, the rookie officer says that he's seen the true colors of the police force and requests that Axel hit him. Axel does so until Blaze tells him to stop, and they and Max and Skates leave as dawn breaks.
The third and final serial, called The Only Game In Town, appeared in STC #41-46 and involved the Syndicate unleashing an army of street gangs on our heroes, with the event turned into a gambling event as Mr. X opened a book based on whether or not the heroes would reach the river without being killed first. This ploy was played against the villain when Blaze bet on twenty-thousand dollars on her team's survival at odds of a thousand to one. This third story was notable for revealing that, for his failure, the old Mr. X had been the victim of a "swimming accident" and had been replaced with a new one by the Syndicate at story's end. Like many non-Sonic stories in this magazine, the story had a cliff-hanger ending, with the new Mr. X promising that he would "recoup his losses" and kill the heroes.
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The game's chiptune soundtrack was acclaimed, with several soundtrack albums being released. The soundtracks were composed by Yuzo Koshiro. Another musician, Motohiro Kawashima, helped on the second, providing a few tracks, and making even more for the third. Three soundtrack CDs were released in all, each of which now sell for high prices at auction and in Japanese markets.
When the first game's development began in 1990, Koshiro was influenced by electronic dance music, or club music, specifically techno and house music, and wanted to be the first to introduce those sounds to chiptune and video game music. The soundtrack shows the influence of contemporary R&B and hip hop music. Koshiro said the most important element in recreating club music sounds for the games was to emulate the timbre and percussion sounds of Roland's rhythm machines (the most famous models being the TR-606, TR-707, TR-808, and TR-909), stating that "it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that that sound defined the genre."
The soundtracks for the Streets of Rage series were composed using then outdated PC-8801 hardware alongside Koshiro's own original audio programming language. According to Koshiro: "For Bare Knuckle I used the PC88 and an original programming language I developed myself. The original was called MML, Music Macro Language. It's based on NEC's BASIC program, but I modified it heavily. It was more a BASIC-style language at first, but I modified it to be something more like Assembly. I called it ‘Music Love'. I used it for all the Bare Knuckle Games."
The soundtracks, particularly Streets of Rage 2, are considered "revolutionary" and ahead of their time. GamesRadar considers the soundtracks to have some of the best video game music ever composed.
See also 
- "Mobygames Mikito Ichikawa credits". Moby Games. Retrieved 2009-03-23.
- Character selection screen in Streets of Rage
- Yin-Poole, Wesley (May 29, 2012). "Streets of Rage, Golden Axe collections hit Xbox Live Arcade tomorrow". Eurogamer. Retrieved November 26, 2012.
- MegaTech rating, EMAP, issue 5, May 1992
- Mega magazine issue 1, page 76, Future Publishing, Oct 1992
- Yuzo Koshiro; Ben Schweitzer (translation) (June 27, 2012). "Liner Notes". Streets of Rage Original Soundtrack. Wave Master, Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved 28 August 2012.
- Szczepaniak, John. "Retro Japanese Computers: Gaming's Final Frontier". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved 2011-03-29. Reprinted from Retro Gamer (67), 2009
- McNeilly, Joe (April 19, 2010). "Game music of the day: Streets of Rage 2". GamesRadar. Retrieved 28 July 2012.
- Mustin. "Streets of Rage 2 Original Soundtrack (US): Review". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
- Elston, Brett (December 4, 2010). "Game music of the day: Streets of Rage". GamesRadar. Retrieved 31 July 2012.