NPR: "How 'Streets Of Rage 4' Reimagined Gaming's Most Iconic Rave

NPR: "How 'Streets Of Rage 4' Reimagined Gaming's Most Iconic Rave

14th Jun 2020

NPR has an in-depth write up on Streets of Rage 4, here is just a sample of the entire article.


At the turn of the '90s, the attention of the video game industry was locked onto two major companies battling for the lion's share of a growing industry. One was Nintendo, whose ubiquitous Italian plumber was a household name.

The other was SEGA, a brand known for its spiky hedgehog, sure, but also for signaling a specific kind of '90s cool that set itself against other video games of the time. While Nintendo stuck to their family friendly "games-for-all" aesthetic, SEGA put out video games that were thematically riskier and more mature.

One of SEGA's biggest titles of that era was Streets of Rage, a beat-'em-up style game released for the Genesis console in 1991. In it, the player assumes the role of an ex-cop out to clean up the streets of a corrupt city. It was a game with an irrefutable style, a counter-cultural cool; its grimy cityscapes were populated by leather-laced street punks, it was violent and unruly. The shock of something new was everywhere in Streets of Rage, the feeling of a freshly realized aesthetic rendered with startling precision and clarity.

At the center of this revelatory difference was the music. Most games of the era were filled with delightful, airy melodies. Rather than looking to contemporaneous video games for inspiration, series composer Yuzo Koshiro wanted to make something that resembled his experience at nightclubs in Tokyo. And so Streets of Rage ended up with music that resembled the broader world — not just the world of video games. Koshiro's looping compositions were crunchy, gritty electronic tracks that sounded more like a Saturday night rave than the cute chiptune ditties of Super Mario Bros.

It's unsurprising that this musical legacy has extended beyond the confines of its original cartridge, influencing the very scene that inspired it. In the years since, the Streets of Rage franchise has influenced major musical artists like Just Blaze and Flying Lotus. The music is toured live, with DJ sets done by the original composers that sell out in both the U.S. and Japan. It is music that has entered the house and techno pantheon. But there hadn't been a new Streets of Rage game since 1994.

Until now, that is. Reviving beloved gaming franchises is a risky business, and game fandoms are a notoriously picky bunch. But the French video game publisher Dotemu has made a surprising specialty out of doing just that: taking beloved but dormant franchises and bringing them back to life.

ORGINALLY FROM NPR: "How 'Streets Of Rage 4' Reimagined Gaming's Most Iconic Rave