Game: Streets of Rage
Song: Beatnik on the Ship
Above:Beatnik on the Shipfrom Streets of Rage
Holy crap,Yuzo Koshiro (opens in new tab). If you love any videogame music from the '80s or '90s, there's a remarkably strong chance it came from this man. Beginning with series like Ys and Shinobi, Koshiro went on to score some of the best VGM the world will ever know, an unforgettable career arguably kicked off by his stunning work in the very first Streets of Rage.
Literally any song from the first game is worth hearing, but my personal favorite is from Round 5, aka "Beatnik on the Ship." The Genesis/Mega Drive was rarely known as a machine with excellent audio, so hearing this high-quality, well-composed song come from that little black box was truly mind blowing. It made what was an otherwise by-the-numbers beat 'em up an honest-to-god event that became one of the most popular 16-bitgames of all time.
Above: Fighting in the Street, perhaps the most well known song from the game
Above: Moon Beach, another irresistible track from early in the game
Above: The classic opening, complete withPure Moods-style (opens in new tab)intro song
Granted, if you don't care for dance-style VGM, then there's probably not a lot here for you. But even if that's the case, consider what it was like in 1991, when carefully constructed game music was just getting off the ground. This was the time when Mega Man, Castlevania, Zelda and Sonicwere becoming household names (and songs), and even among those series' heyday, Streets of Rage carved out a substantial chunk of our collective minds. Could it ever return? Hard to say, as the beat 'em up has morped into games like Devil May Cry and God of War, so Streets would need a pretty serious overhaul. Then again, Platinum Games did make Bayonetta for Sega...(opens in new tab)
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Flower Garden by Koji Kondo
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Trippy trance from the N64 days
Three more classics from Yuzo Koshiro