Streets of Rage 3 (known simply as Bare Knuckle III in Japan) arrived in early 1994 to a somewhat lukewarm reception from the gaming press. After the major improvements of Streets of Rage 2, what would the new sequel add to the Genesis/Megadrive's premier side-scrolling beat 'em up series? Unfortunately the answer seemed to be "very little". The game was immediately attacked for not deviating from the established formula, and as a result the game sold a lot less than Streets of Rage 2.

However, Streets of Rage 3 is still a fine, if quite unoriginal game. The graphics were superior to it's prequel. The sprites in particular were now huge and very well animated. A new character, Dr. Zan was added to the player roster at the expense of Max. The game also featured a secret character, Roo the fighting kangaroo (!) and two playable boss characters.

The game mechanics were tweaked, making the game much faster (especially with the introduction of a dash move) and harder (enemies were now more numerous, intelligent and stronger). Also, the special move system from Streets of Rage 2 was altered through the addition of a special bar, which when fully charged meant a special attack cost no health and secret attacks available after you had each a certain score.

Streets of Rage 3 also brought back a lot of features from the original that were absent in Streets of Rage 2. Interactive scenery made a return, with holes in floors to dispose of enemies with and workable elevators. Inter-level cut scenes were added, along with different routes through the game and (best of all) alternate endings.

However, Streets of Rage 3 had numerous problems. Bizarrely, the costumes in the Western version were changed, so Axel was in black & yellow, Blaze in silver and so on. The music was generally considered to be at best average, at worst awful and was a real let down after Streets of Rage 2. The sound effects sounded weak, and an annoying bug was present that lost sound effects surfaced when the action on screen got too much.

Streets of Rage 3 was essentially a reworking of Streets of Rage 2. Despite a 24-meg cartridge the programmers failed to come up with anything particularly original. However, whether the game deserves its bad reputation is debatable.

Streets of Rage 3 was intended to the be the last 16-bit outing for the Streets of Rage series, with plans being made for a fourth game to be released on Sega's upcoming 32-bit machine, the Saturn.

Original Release Dates:

USA - 03/17/94
EUR - 03/20/94
JAP - 03/18/94


CERO: All Ages (A) (Sonic Gems Collection)
ESRB: 10+ (Virtual Console)

Production Credits:

are Knuckle III

Producer: Ossiy, Noriyuki
Director: Yui

      Main Planner: Wanter
      Shinkon Planner: Zozo


      Total Design: Seisi Atumiya
      Mechanic Design: Ryuryu
      Character Design: ..., Ryuryu, Kaseizin, Juntaro, Ma‑Kun
      Scene Design: Kaz Ewasawa, Noomin, Kanjii


      Main Program: Momonga Momo
      Enemy Program: Takosuke, Chata, Nagisa, Mr・Nobody
      Scene Program: Tonsyun


      Sound Producer: Yuzo Koshiro
      Sound Composer: Motohiro Kawashima
      Sound Programmer: Akira Koyama

      Voice: Saru Man, Elilin, Kami, Hamako, Yossy

Special Thanks: Say A, Tetsu, O Kitaoka, Hassy, Todoroki Taiyo, Miya, Koromi, Four
Produced by: Sega

Streets of Rage 3

Producers: Ossiy, Noriyuki, Max Taylor

Assistant Producer: Dante Anderson
Director: Yui
Product Manager: France Tantiado

      Main Planner: Wanter
      Assistant Planner: Zozo


      Concept Designer: Seisi Atumiya
      Animation Designer: Ryuryu
      Character Designers: ..., Ryuryu, Kaseizin, Juntaro, Ma‑Kun
      Background Designers: Kaz Ewasawa, Noomin, Kanjii


      Lead Programmer: Momonga Momo
      Character Programmers: Takosuke, Chata, Nagisa, Mr・Nobody
      Background Programmer: Tonsyun


      Music Producer: Yuzo Koshiro
      Music Composer: Motohiro Kawashima
      Music Programmer: Akira Koyama

      Sound Effects: Saru Man, Elilin, Kami, Hamako, Yossy

Special Thanks to: Say A, Tetsu, O Kitaoka, Hassy, Todoroki Taiyo, Miya, Koromi, Four, Steve Burton, James Spahn, Shinobu Yokoyama, Marianne Arotzarena, David Javelosa, Stewart Kosoy, Adam Sevillia

Game Testing: Julio Martinez, Lance Nelson, Jeff Junio, Atom Ellis, Jason Kuo, Ty Johnson, Daniel Dunn, Joe Cain, Tony Lynch, Siegie Stangenberg, Rick Greer, Harry Chavez, Simon Lu, Greg Watkins, David Martin, Maria Tuzzo, Christine Watson, Jeff Todd, Greg Becksted, Vy Nong, Ivan Foong, Kurt Tindle, Terry Thomas, Alex Villagran, Sam Saliba, Michael Williams, Wesley Gittens, Kim Rogers, Greg Fleming, Fernando Valderrama, Ray Alferez, Mark Subotnick

Produced by: Sega

  • The Japanese version of this game is Bare Knuckle III. However, unlike the previous 2 games there are major differences between the two versions - take a look here.

  • In the Western version Axel, Blaze and Skate wear different costumes (so Axel is in yellow & black, Blaze is in silver etc.), and every fan of the game agrees that they are absolutely godawful. Sega's reasoning was that the new colour schemes were "gender neutral"...

  • Any of my UK readers remember Mean Machines Sega, the cool gaming magazine that ran from 1990-98? When they reviewed Streets of Rage 3 in 1994 they had their art editor draw up a picture for their cover with Dr. Zan and Blaze standing in front of the city. Sega Europe actually bought the rights to the artwork to use it for the cover of the UK/Europe release.

  • The UK/Europe box has a screenshot of Axel dressed in his normal costume i.e. white shirt and jeans. This costume was taken out of the Western release, so this must be a shot from Bare Knuckle III.

  • Just like he did with SOR2, Yuzo Koshiro recorded all the character voices for Bare Knuckle III (Axel, Blaze, Skate, Zan). However, he did not record the voices for the western version. (Thanks to Yuzo Koshiro)
  • Leave the game on the title screen. After the demo you get little screens explaining who each of the characters are.

  • Play the game through on Easy. When you reach the end of Round 5 some different text appears, as Robot X mocks you for playing "like a beginner" and Zan tells the team that they must try harder. The game then shows Mr X looking on with his wine glass (as it does on the Round 7 (B) Ending) and ends.

  • Plot inconsistencies are everywhere in Streets of Rage 3 due to the big changes from the Japanese storyline:

    • In Round 6, if the Chief is dying he tells you to stop the robot at City Hall; if he lives he doesn't seem to know anything about his robot duplicate.

    • When Adam finds the vigilantes at the end of Round 6, how does he know where they would be? The message he mentions doesn't tell him, and the location of Mr X.'s hideout is unknown to the heroes at the start of the game.

    • How the hell do the team find the robot factory? Nobody tells them, and if Shiva is met as the final boss in the other route they try to force the info out of him.

    • Who is watching the projector in the City Hall ending? Mr. X is a brain!

    • At the end of the game Dr Dahm tells the police about all the replaced officials. But would Mr X really have kept the real officials alive? Surely they would be a liability if they escaped. The only reason the Chief is kept alive is to lure the heroes to Mr X so that he can try and get Axel to join the Syndicate (again).

    • Did Mr X seriously think that Axel would join the Syndicate? It seems a bit improbable.

    • Blaze's letter in the intro states that the Chief of Police has been kidnapped. After the second level however, the characters are surprised when they learn he has been kidnapped, and the news program presents it as a very recent event as they interrupt the ordinary programs for a news flash. Cheers to Anton Berglin for this.

  • Look out for Max from Streets of Rage 2 in the final picture of the end credits.

  • There's a really obvious spelling mistake in Bare Knuckle III; play a game on Duel Mode to discover that you are playing "Bare Knucle 3".

  • The game heavily borrows from the NYC skyline. The final picture from the full ending has the characters looking at a midtown skyline, the BKIII cover features the Chrysler Building and the UK box features the now sadly destroyed World Trade Center. Thanks to Nestor J. Galeano for this info.

  • Early screenshots of the game showed levels where the team rode motorbikes. These were dropped from the final release, but remain in part in the game. Take a look (and play them!) here.

  • Round 6 was originally a lot bigger; play hidden areas cut from the final game using the info here.

  • Jun Matsuo, who worked on Enemy Character Design & Art plus Environment & Cut Scene Art for Bare Knuckle III, revealed this unused cutscene in a Blog Entry. It shows Dr. Zan helping an injured General Petrov and is nowhere to be seen in the final version of the game. Thanks to JoyJoyfulRabbit for this discovery.

  • If you don't pick up the chicken when fighting Yamoto at the end of Round 4 it will explode shortly before he does. Thanks go to Anton Berglin for this.

  • The 1UP icons are little Adam dolls! Thanks again to Anton Berglin.

  • The letter at the end of Round 2 reads "Dear Friend" in the picture, but begins "Come and inspect the building of our new mall" in the text. Strange... Thanks go to out Anton Berglin for this one.

  • Open up the Streets of Rage 3 ROM with my cut scene font table and go to offset 0x2488C4 to find this weird unused text after the City Hall ending:


    Axel Stone is strong. I am a boy. I love you. Fuck you. Go home. Let's fight. It is a pen. I miss you. Why don't you know. She is my son. Moon Friends Cotton love Last chance


    There's also a load of of what looks like Japanese after this text. Why did the Sega of America's development team leave this in here?


  • There are a number of unused sound effects and voices hidden within the Bare Knuckle III ROM (which don't even appear on the ingame sound test), which can only be found by hacking the ROM using a hexeditor. These remained hidden for almost 20 years until they were discovered by Lorenzo the Comic. Interestingly, these include an unused version of Axel's famous "Grand Upper!" sound. You can download the sounds in WAV format here.

  • Look closely at Mona & Lisa's double attack and you will see a fat man riding a dog (!) while wearing a mask. Thanks to Allan.Cylakes, we now know this strange fat man is a Tengu (天狗), which translates as "Heavenly Dog". Tengu is a supernatural creature in Japanese folklore sometimes worshipped as a god. [Credit to gsaurus for the discovery]


  • Curiously, an old prototype build of Ecco II: The Tides of Time exists, known as 'Ecco II X11' (dated April 13th 1994), which contains sprites of Roo from SOR3 hidden inside:

    This version of Ecco II comes from an internal CD-ROM belonging to Sega of America’s testing department. These discs contained the source media for EPROM cartridges used by testers to evaluate games and report bugs. It is also believed this build of Ecco II was intended for magazines and other media for review/promotional purposes. The Roo sprites are most likely leftovers from something that was previously on the cart that the Ecco II beta was on before it was dumped. This means that a BKIII Beta (or even a US version beta for that matter) was possibly on the Ecco II prototype cart before. A lot of times data for beta carts were written over as opposed to just tossing them, at least was the case with many Mega Drive/Genesis game prototypes.

  • The image of Axel tying his bandana seen in the Bare Knuckle III intro sequence seems to have been directly lifted from a publicity shot/poster for the 1988 movie Rambo III. Thanks to JoyJoyfulRabbit for pointing this out.



  • 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 3 offering in MP3 format here.













Retro Gamer Magazine "TAKING BACK THE STREETS: The History of Streets of Rage", March 2011


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