Streets of Rage is a beat 'em up produced by Sega and released for the Sega Genesis (Mega-Drive) in 1991. This game is considered one of the most important releases of the genre and features music created by the legendary composer Yuzo Koshiro. Koshiro is the mastermind behind the music for several acclaimed games, including ActRaiser, The Revenge of Shinobi, Shenmue, and many others. These are all brilliant soundtracks, but Streets of Rage has a special place in the memory and heart of many gamers.
On this edition of The Musical Box, I'll list 5 reasons why Streets of Rage's soundtrack is so powerful and memorable. Musical taste is subjective, but there may be some aspects of SoR OST that helped these songs remain relevant to this day. Be aware that in the world of music production, there are no absolute correct answers, just opinions with good foundations.
The 5 reasons, in no particular order of importance, are:
Unique style: Streets of Rage OST is heavily inspired by groovy electronic music, which was radically different compared to almost every other soundtrack at that time.
Impressive timbres: Koshiro managed to create his own compositional tools and sound libraries, and they really sounded far more real and punchier than any other game music at that time.
It works both outside and inside the game: If you hear the songs outside of the game context, they stand on their own. They could fit perfectly as part of a really good electronic music album that could be enjoyed by any non-gamer music fan. If you put this music in context, it sounds even better, creating a brilliant soundscape for a fighting game.
The game is awesome: Even the best soundtracks are not remembered if the game isn't good enough. This is not the case for Streets of Rage, which remains an incredible game experience to this day. At the time it was released, there was really nothing this good on consoles.
Excellent songwriting skills: Koshiro is an amazing songwriter. All songs in Streets of Rage 1 have the basic foundation for the genre he chose: groovy drum loops, powerful bass lines, simple song structures and extremely memorable melodies.
When I first played Streets of Rage, I couldn't believe that someone could make such catchy and memorable music for a game. I thought I was impressed due to my tender age (I was 11 when I first played SoR), but I replayed it when it was re-released for the PS3 in 2009's Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection, and I still found the OST to be incredibly well done. Listen to "Moon Beach," the theme song from the third stage of SoR and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Special thanks: Gilliard Lopes, Rafael Kuhnen, Fernando Secco, Sandro Tomasetti, and Rafael Martins (Sommastudio).