Six years had to pass for us to once again have an opportunity to play as heroes of Streets of Rage – a classic series of “beat ’em up” games, famous for their timeless gameplay and electronic club music. Streets of Rage 4 is a continuation of the trilogy, not only improved with a new technique, hand-drawn graphics, but most importantly, with a soundtrack that many eminent composers put their hands on.
It is simply impossible to break away from the rhythms that make our feet move.
Streets of Rage series is really close to my heart, not only because of my childhood memories, but also because of the music that, despite my old age, still amazes me. So, as soon as the continuation of Streets of Rage was announced, something inside me woke up again. I was expecting more information about the production from Lizardcube studio with child’s curiosity, and I was especially curious who will compose the music for Streets of Rage 4.
News of Yuzo Koshiro’s return was no surprise as it was thanks to his input that the series was so successful in the US and EU markets. However, the fact that other Japanese composers (Motohiro Kawashima, Yoko Shimomura, Harumi Fujita, Keiji Yamagishi), also Olivier Deriviere and Groundislava, XL Middleton and Das Mörtal were brought on board really left me under a strong impression.
After playing the game and listening to the soundtrack several times, my expectations were finally met, although I must point out that there definitely was a lot more risk taken in terms of music production. Yes, the songs in the game still play the role of sounds that accompany us while beating up bandits (They’re Back) who threaten our measly lives, but apart from the sound design itself, they are the only sounds that build the world in the game. In style of the original, the creators of Streets of Rage 4 focused on dialogues, without dubbing, leaving a lot of space for the music itself. That is why it was a big challenge for composers not to let the music wear off players’ ears after a few minutes.
Olivier Deriviere dealt mainly with compositions for most of the levels.
For this purpose, a few compositional tricks were used, especially one where the music in the game locations is simply, well, responsive (The Storm Boat). In addition, in order to cut himself off from the routine, Olivier Deriviere focused mainly on the compositions for most of the levels in order to leave room for the other composers, who prepared pieces assigned to individual boss fights (Mrs Y). So what makes Streets of Rage music different from other games of its type? The first thought that comes to my mind is pure fun with sounds (On Fire), which are alike to disco songs (Funky HQ). It is simply impossible to break away from the rhythms that make our feet move.
In the Streets of Rage game series a special emphasis has always been placed on the soundtrack, because it was a kind of a street album (The Streets), which triggered emotions in the player so that he would move the hero forward despite adversities. Olivier Deriviere has mentioned numerous times in interviews that working on Streets of Rage was not only a challenge for him as an artist, but also an opportunity to compose music detached from previous instalments of the series. He did not want to copy the style of Yuzo Koshiro, because it is simply impossible to imitate (Streets of Rage 2 – Go Straight). Instead, he focused on his own composing technique and on inspirations from the 1990s, which sound surprisingly good, although sometimes you can hear that the composer would like to work a bit more on them.
So what makes Streets of Rage music different from other games of this type?
Although Yuzo Koshiro’s participation in the project was small, each track is as precious as gold (Main Theme), especially the main theme, which is a tribute to the veterans of the Streets of Rage series. French development studio Lizardcube and other producers once again met the expectations of not only gamers, but also music enthusiasts, for whom the Streets of Rage 4 soundtrack will remain on Spotify’s playlists for a long time (especially video game music fans).