Streets of RageStreets of Rage in Japan.}} is a series of side-scrolling beat 'em up video games, centering on the efforts of several ex-police vigilantes trying to rid a fictional, large American city from a crime syndicate that has corrupted its local government. The first three games in the franchise were developed and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis in the early 1990s, and have since been ported and re-released on various platforms. A fourth entry, Streets of Rage 4, was released in 2020.
The games were well-received and have been re-released many times both on compilations and as standalone games. The electronic dance music soundtracks of the games, scored by Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima, have also received much acclaim.
1991–1994: Original trilogyThree games in the series were released between 1991 and 1994. The first entry, Streets of Rage, introduces the four main characters, three young former police officers known as Axel, Blaze, and Adam, and Mr. X, an evil mastermind. It is the only game in the series to feature a Shinobi-style special attack that defeats all non-boss enemies on-screen. Streets of Rage was supported by Sega's Mega Drive/Genesis, Master System and Game Gear consoles.
The next entry in the series, Streets of Rage II, had new music (influenced by early '90s club music) from series composer Yuzo Koshiro and newcomer composer Motohiro Kawashima, more defined graphics and a larger selection of moves. It also introduced two new characters, Eddie "Skate" Hunter, and Max Thunder (or Sammy "Skate" Hunter and Max Hatchett in some regions). Like the original title, Streets of Rage II was playable on Sega's Genesis, Master System, and Game Gear.
The third entry to the Streets of Rage series, Streets of Rage 3, was less well-received than its predecessors. Despite some enhancements, it has been seen as very similar to Streets of Rage II. This entry to the series added a more complex storyline told using cutscenes. The Western version featured increased difficulty, with other elements altered or censored from the Japanese release. The music, again composed by Koshiro and Kawashima, was also criticized for being radically different from the music from the first two games. Unlike the two foregoing games, Streets of Rage 3 was available only on the Genesis.
1994–2020: Series hiatusAlthough it was one of the most popular Sega franchises in the 1990s, no new official Streets of Rage games were released for over 25 years after Streets of Rage 3, excluding rereleases of the first three games via various Sega game compilations.
Sega is reported to have attempted to bring the series to the Saturn, and early in the production cycle for Sega's Dreamcast a demo tentatively titled Streets of Rage 4 was made by Ancient. It showed a character similar to Axel fighting a group of enemies. Neither the Saturn nor the Dreamcast game, however, came to fruition. Backbone Entertainment later pitched a new Streets of Rage game to Sega, but this project also failed to proceed.
There have been numerous unofficial fan-made projects and remakes, including Beats of Rage and Streets of Rage Remake.
2020–present: RevivalThe first new entry in the series since the Genesis, Streets of Rage 4, was announced in 2018 and released in 2020. The game was developed by Lizardcube, Guard Crush Games, and Dotemu, who previously released the 2017 remake of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap.
CharactersIn order of appearance:
Streets of Rage
Axel StoneA playable character in all the games, Axel is generally the frontman of the series. He is usually portrayed as a muscular man with blonde hair, and wearing blue jeans with a white muscle shirt and a blue headband. A police detective in the first game, he went on to open a karate dojo. In the Japanese Bare Knuckle 3 storyline, he is transferred to the Special Investigation police department. In the early Streets of Rage games he has balanced abilities, combining power and speed. In later installments, he becomes more of a heavyweight fighter. His special attacks variously include a 360-degree flaming punch (Dragon Wing) and a punch/uppercut combo (Dragon Smash). He also has a flaming uppercut named Grand Upper (which was renamed to Bare Knuckle for SoR3). It was toned down considerably in SoR3 due to its excessive power in SoR2. After many years of hiatus, Axel made an official return in a crossover game Project X Zone 2, in which he is voiced by Tomokazu Sugita in Japanese.
Blaze FieldingPlayable character in all games. Blaze is a female police officer who lacks high attack power, but has superior speed and jumping abilities to make up for it.
Adam HunterAdam is a playable character in SoR1 and SoR4. He is kidnapped in SoR2, and appears in later cutscenes of SoR3. He is the older brother of Eddie "Skate" Hunter. Adam is an ex-professional boxer who joined the police force as a detective. Unlike Axel and Blaze, he did not quit the police force at the end of the second game. He is the opposite of Blaze, in that he is slower but stronger. He is portrayed in the first title as a tall young man with dark hair and with highly developed upper-body strength, wearing a yellow vest with motorcycle leathers.
Mr. XThe syndicate boss Mr. X is the main antagonist of the series and appears as the final adversary in the original trilogy in one form or another. In the two first games, he is armed with a Tommy gun. After barely surviving his first two encounters with the SoR team, in SoR3 he is nothing more than a brain in a jar and has a robot, Robot Y (or Neo X in BKIII) who fights for him. Despite his death, Mr. X is survived by his twin children, Mr. and Ms. Y, who become the antagonists of SoR4.
Streets of Rage 2
Max ThunderOnly playable in SoR2, Max, a wrestler, is by far the slowest character in the series, but also the hardest hitting. Max is a friend of Axel and makes a cameo appearance in the ending of the third game. His special techniques are a spinning ax-handle blow (Thunder Bomb) and a dashing tackle (Thunder Tackle). He also has a devastating backward-grappling move called the Atomic Drop. He is the exact opposite of Skate, by lacking speed but having great power.
In SoR4, Max is brainwashed by Mr. X’s twin children, Mr. and Ms. Y through musical mind control devices, framing Axel and his friends for a crime they did not commit.
Eddie "Skate" HunterAdam's younger brother is playable in SoR2 and SoR3. His first name is Sammy in BK2 and Eddie in SoR2. "Skate" is his nickname, as he fights on rollerblades. He is fast, but the weakest of all characters. In SoR2 he was the only character who could dash, an ability all playable characters gained by SoR3. In both games, one of Skate's special moves was the Double Spin Kick. In SoR2, he uses the Corkscrew Kick and in SoR3, he uses Rolling Punches, a flurry of punches. At 4' 10" (147&cm), he is the smallest playable character in the entire series by far.
ShivaThe boss fought right before Mr. X in SoR2, and up to two times in SoR3. He is infamously known as a recurring boss who return in subsequent series since his debut. He was Mr. X's bodyguard in the original Sega Genesis/Mr. X Saga trilogy, and a very skilled fighter, his repertoire of moves matching the regular playable characters. He is also a secret playable character in SoR3, who can be unlocked right after defeating him by holding down the B button. His special move is called Final Crash. He is named after the Hindu god of destruction. Ten years after Mr. X’s death in SoR4, Shiva reforms and becoming a head dojo while promoting buddhism philosophy, as well as being among of the former and current criminals who oppose a mind control slavery led by Mr. X’s Y twin children cause his students defect to the Y twins’ syndicate, and he willingly to give tips to Axel and his friends on how to stop them.
Streets of Rage 3
Dr. Gilbert ZanA former syndicate henchman, Zan tells Blaze about the robot conspiracy in SoR3, and about the Raxine bombs in the Japanese counterpart BKIII. He is one of the four initially selectable characters. Zan is a cyborg with a long reach and solid grapple moves. Unlike the other characters in SoR3, Zan has no special or blitz weapon attacks; every weapon he picks up turns into a ball of energy. His special techniques are the Electric Body and Electric Reach, both using his cyborg parts to shock the opponents.
RooRoo (Victy in BKIII) is a kangaroo mini-boss in SoR3. If his cruel trainer, Bruce (Danch in BKIII), is defeated while keeping Roo/Victy from getting defeated, he becomes playable when a continue is used. Of the unlockable characters, his moveset is the most complete, including team attacks that can be used by vaulting over or being thrown by the other player in two-player co-op.
AshA minion of Mr. X and the first mini-boss faced only in BK3. His character is very stereotypically effeminate, having a very feminine run, even a little 'laugh' taunt (which can still be heard in SoR3 in the sound test under VOICE 14) and female mannerisms. Because of this, he was removed from the Western ports SoR3, though his playable character data remains and can be used through cheating (using external cheat devices like Game Genie) or hacking. In BK3 he drives a boat which drops off punks and afterward jumps off to fight himself. Like Shiva, he is also a secret playable character but unlocked by holding A once defeated (in the Japanese version). Ash's moveset is very limited; for example, he has no jumping attacks, but instead, his punches are humorously overpowered. Like Shiva and Roo, he cannot hold any weapons.
Robot Axel/BreakAn android doppelgänger of Axel Stone, created by Mr. X to kill Axel Stone and his allies. The only differences between Axel and Robot Axel (Break in Japan) are their gloves, shoes, and skins. Axel can be recognized with his primary red gloves and normal skin, while Robot Axel wears blue gloves and has blue shoe stripes (both purple in SoR3) and his skin turns redder the more damage he takes. He at first appears to be silent, except when encountering Axel. Break says Axel's name and shouts Axel's moves like Grand Upper. He appeared in Project X Zone 2 as a rival unit. He shares the same Japanese voice actor as Axel Stone, Tomokazu Sugita.
Streets of Rage 4
Cherry HunterThe teenage daughter of Adam Hunter, and the third playable character of SoR4. She teams up with Axel, Blaze, and her father, using her guitar and jumping attacks to combat foes.
Floyd IraiaA former apprentice of Dr. Zan who has two cybernetic arms, Floyd is from New Zealand.
Estel AguirreAn officer of Wood Oak City. She follows the law enforced by the government to capture Axel and his friends for their crimes. Once she discovered that Mr. X’s twin heirs, Mr. and Ms. Y, are the masterminds behind the mind control on framing Axel and his friends, Estel finally has evidence and aids them, clearing their names. After Mr. and Ms. Y are arrested, Estel is seen honoring Adam Hunter with a golden medal.
Mr. and Ms. YThe new main antagonists of the fourth game. They are the twin heirs of the late-Mr. X. They developed mind control devices through music in order to frame Axel and his friends, starting with mind controlling Max Thunder. While Mr. Y uses arsenals (such as a machine gun and rocket launcher), Ms. Y uses a rapier.
ComicsThree 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 were written by Mark Millar, while the third (and a Poster Mag story) was written by Nigel Kitching. These three stories are an alternate continuity from the games and do not feature Adam. A graphic novel compilation of the original four-part "Streets of Rage" strip was released as a book titled Streets of Rage: Bad City Fighters in the UK in 1994.
The first story, entitled simply Streets of Rage, 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, 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 stepfather was killed by Mr X. The third and final story, The Only Game In Town, involved the Syndicate unleashing an army of street gangs. The Poster Mag story The Facts of Life features Axel, Blaze, Skate, and Max.
MusicThe game's 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 almost half of the tracks for the third. Three soundtrack CDs were released in all, each of which now sell for high prices at auction and in Japanese markets.
The soundtracks mainly consist of, often experimental, chiptune-based electronic dance music, encompassing electronic genres such as electro, house, techno, hardcore, jungle, ambient, breakbeat, gabber, noise, and trance. The music was produced using the Yamaha FM-synth sound chips of the Sega Mega Drive / Genesis video game console (YM2612) and NEC PC-88 computer (YM2608), along with Koshiro's own audio programming language "Music Love," a modified version of the PC-88's Music Macro Language (MML).
The soundtracks have been critically acclaimed. They are considered ahead of their time, and as some of the best video game music of all time. Streets of Rage 2 (1992) in particular is considered revolutionary for its "blend of swaggering house synths," "dirty" electro-funk and "trancey electronic textures that would feel as comfortable in a nightclub as a video game." Streets of Rage 3 is also considered ahead of its time, for its automatically generated randomized sequences, experimental hardcore "fast-beat techno like jungle" sounds, and trance music elements. The series' soundtracks have influenced a range of chiptune, electronica, grime and dubstep musicians through to the present day, including artists such as Ikonika, BT, Labrinth, Martyn, Joker, Darkstar, Childish Gambino, and Danger.