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") was the first SOR
title, released by SEGA in 1991 on the 16-Bit Mega Drive and later ported to the
8-Bit Master System, and Game Gear handheld. The game was released when the
Nintendo SNES was imminent, and Sega needed some exclusive 1st-party games to
rival the SNES launch line-up. They needed a game similar to Final Fight, a
popular arcade coin-op game that Nintendo was bringing to the home market on
SNES following a lucrative exclusivity deal with Capcom.
Sega employed development team Ancient to work on the title, along with former members of Team Shinobi, who used a heavily modified version of the Golden Axe engine to produce what would eventually become 'Bare Knuckle'. They re-used some graphics and sound effects from The Revenge of Shinobi and also employed master VGM composer Yuzo Koshiro for the soundtrack. A key selling point for the game was its simultaneous 2-player option, a feature omitted from the SNES port of Final Fight. Upon its release, Streets of Rage was a success for Sega, welcomed by critics and gamers alike. It had good graphics for the time and showcased what the Mega Drive was capable of. (See our Making Of article for a more in-depth look at the game's origins).
Streets of Rage features a superb 'house' soundtrack by Yuzo Koshiro that really sets the mood as you punch, kick and smash your way through the 8 levels with pipes, bats and bottles to reach the lair of Mr. X, the leader of the evil Syndicate. The music was and still is incredible, despite the fact that the Mega Drive sound chip was infamously awful and very much inferior to that of the SNES.
The gameplay was nothing revolutionary; Streets of Rage is in many ways simply a Final Fight clone, although the game did introduce enough new elements into the usual beat 'em up formula to make it stand out. At the time however, it was easily the best side-scrolling beat 'em up on the system and was only surpassed by it's own sequels. In my opinion, Streets of Rage more than made up for the absence of a Mega Drive version of Final Fight, and it performed well enough for Sega to start development on a sequel for release the following year...
Original Release Dates:
USA - 12/31/90
EUR - 1991
JAP - 08/02/91
CERO: All Ages (A) (Sonic Gems Collection)
Ages 12 and up (B) (Virtual Console)
PEGI: 7+ (Virtual Console)
Nintendo 3DS: 12+
Mega Drive Version
Game Designed by: There Is "No" Accounting for Tastes., Tinon
Programmed by: Momonga Momo, Little Sun
Designed by: Seishi Atsumiya, Nandemo, Rascal Fuku-Chan, Udi
Music by: Yuzo Koshiro
Sound Assisted: T.N
Special Thanks to: Bo, Ore, Kottu, Thunder, Yamaichi, Scott
Presented by: Sega 1991
Game Gear Version
Game Designed by: Abadede
Programmed by: Nag, AT1000, IK
Designed by: Abadede, Honey
Music by: Yuzo Koshiro, Mikito Ichikawa
Special Thanks to: Mul, Kei
Presented by: Sega 1992
- Streets of Rage was developed by many of the people from Team Shinobi, who were responsible for Revenge of Shinobi (which is one of the finest platformers ever made).
- Yuzo Koshiro was also responsible for music in Revenge of Shinobi (Genesis/Megadrive), Actraiser (SNES) and Shenmue (Dreamcast).
- Numerous sounds, such as the extra life sound, and also the game's font, are lifted directly from Revenge of Shinobi! According to Yuzo Koshiro himself on Twitter, this was primarily a cost cutting measure, but also an attempt at impressing Sega by having a (vague) continuity between the games.
- Long-time gamers out there may remember E-SWAT (Enhanced Special Weapons And Tactics), an older Sega arcade title that was also converted to Megadrive. The police car that drives in & fires the rockets when a special attack is used is in fact the cyber-police from E-SWAT! Thanks to Joe Talledo for sending us this screenshot from the ending of the Mega Drive conversion that proves this:
- According to the game's original design document, the working title was 'Dragon-SWAT' or 'D-SWAT'. This fact makes the appearance of the E-SWAT police car (detailed above) make a lot more sense.
- Streets of Rage is rumored to use a tweaked version of the engine used by the Genesis/Mega Drive version of Golden Axe.
- Streets of Rage, along with fellow Sega classics Golden Axe & Revenge of Shinobi, was later put onto Mega Games 2; a three-in-one cartridge that was included with Mega Drives in around 1993.
- The box art for the US/Euro release features the Empire State Building in the background. Thanks to Nestor J. Galeano for this.
All versions of SOR/BK are multi-language and are not chiplocked to prevent use on machines from different territories. Change the country setting on your Megadrive (by fiddling with the insides) or your emulator to do this. Bare Knuckle II also does this, but the US/Euro versions of SOR2 are chiplocked. Thanks to Azathoth for this.
On the character select screen, Blaze winks at you if you wait for several seconds:
- SOR1's Garcia looks very similar to one of the stage 1 punks from the game 'Batman', based on the 1989 movie. Thanks to Luis Arguello for pointing that out.
Streets of Rage was ported to Sega's Mega-Tech arcade hardware shortly after the home console release in 1991. A working ROM does exist for this coin-op version, compatible with MAME 0.146 [Thanks to DarkValentine] but the physical cartridge is now extremely rare. The game is identical to the JP Mega Drive release (Bare Knuckle) in pretty much every detail, slight technical differences aside.
In 1991 Sega teamed up with Tiger Electronics, Inc. to produce a standalone Streets of Rage LCD handheld video game, as part of its "Pocket Arcade" series. Ideal for younger kids, the game was pretty basic and contained 6 levels, with Axel, Blaze and Adam all playable. You can view the original instruction manual in PDF format here, and check out photos of the game and packaging below, plus a streaming video of its gameplay, all levels.
In 2010 a Limited Edition "Blaze" Streets Of Rage Sega Mega Drive Handheld Console was released, featuring 18 playable games which included poorly emulated versions of SOR1 & 3. Bizarrely, SOR2 was missing from the line-up. Cash cow, anyone?
In 2012, Sega commissioned Jane Evelyn Nisperos, aka Chibi-Tech, to produce all-new SOR chiptune music to accompany the menu screens in their "Sega Vintage Collection" for Xbox Live Arcade. You can download her Streets of Rage 1 offering in MP3 format here.
Elements from the US/Euro cover art for Streets of Rage (and that of its sequel SOR2) were blatantly ripped off by Capcom on their own "Final Fight 2" cover for the SNES. Check out this comparison: (Note that the 3 covers were all produced by the same artist)
This is ironic, since Streets of Rage itself started out as Sega's answer to the original Final Fight. Guess Capcom thought Sega was doing a better job, eh SOR fans? :) Thanks to BadChad, Allan.Cylakes and Sonicx20 for pointing this out.
In 2012, to coincide with the release of the SOR trilogy on Xbox Live Arcade, SEGA re-released the official soundtracks for all 3 games, along with a special club mix disc, in this commemorative 4-disc release, which has already become a collector's item:
The cover art for the Western release of Streets of Rage appears to have been directly inspired by the poster art for 'Gymkata', a 1985 martial arts film starring Olympic gymnast Kurt Thomas - a film which Maxim lists as the 17th "Worst Movie of All Time". Take a look:
Another thing about the cover art for the Western release of the game, Blaze Fielding's flying-kick stance appears to have been directly lifted from the original poster for 'Sister Street Fighter', a 1974 Japanese martial arts movie. (Thanks to BESTwithSKATE for this). JoyJoyfulRabbit also points out that the guy kneeling on the ground rubbing his head is also copied from this poster.
In the crowd-funded publication "SEGA Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works" (2014), the original pencil and marker storyboards for the game's ending were revealed. Take a look at them here (Click thumbnail to enlarge image):
Credit to: Eidolon, Black Squirrel, Aoshi102, JoyJoyfulRabbit
Mean Machines Sega Review - View PDF scan
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