Week of Rage: Streets of Rage Composer Yuzo Koshiro

If you’ve played any Streets of Rage title you will know that they all feature incredible music. Truly capturing the music industry at the start of the early 90’s, each track is as memorable as the last.

Be it ‘Go Straight’ from Streets of Rage 2’s opening stage to the fierce techno of ‘Streets of Rage 3’s ‘Dub Slash’, every pitch-perfect note is in place thanks to one man, legendary game and television music composer Yuzo Koshiro.

The man, the myth, the legend Yuzo Koshiro himself

Koshiro’s soundtracks were synonymous with so many classic SEGA titles in the 90’s and beyond including all three instalments of Streets of Rage, The Revenge of Shinobi, Shenmue, Story of Thor (Beyond Oasis in the US) and many more.

Koshiro’s ‘Go Straight’ from Streets of Rage 2. Absolutely classic!

Born in 1967, Koshiro’s resume over the years is testament to his undeniable composing talent. His first work was on a game called Xanadu Scenario II, released in 1986 on the PC-88 brand of NEC Computer. His best known work on the format was for role-playing games Ys and Ys II. Koshiro would then leave developer Falcom shortly after to pursue a freelance career.

A Screenshot of the revamped Windows release of Ys and Ys II

The liberation of working as a freelance would see Koshiro release what some consider to be his greatest works to date. First up would be The Revenge of Shinobi, a soundtrack that perfectly blended traditional Japanese folk stylings with pounding techno and some truly inspired hooks.

‘The Shinobi’, The superb opening track from The Revenge of Shinobi

Next up was the Streets of Rage series at SEGA and developer Quintet’s Actraiser series for SNES. While the latter was a great soundtrack, Streets of Rage is easily the one series that sticks in the mind of Koshiro fans.

Everything about this soundtrack was impressive. The way Koshiro used the Mega Drive/Genesis chip set to create music with depth and vibe that had never been heard before, the way that each song seemed to represent music in the early 90’s and how each track perfectly fit the tone of what was happening on screen.

For example, who can forget this one? Simply epic:

Koshiro would then go on to form Ancient, a studio that would help create the superb Story of Thor series on Mega Drive and Saturn. While his music was not his best work, it really delivered an epic old-school fantasy vibe, particularly during his opening scene.

And if you haven’t played the game, I demand that you stop reading and do so now (please) 😛

After Story of Thor Koshiro moved on to create compositions for a plethora of formats and titles, few of which gained the same notoriety as his work on Streets of Rage, but they all retained that infallable mark of quality the composer is known for. Shenmue is one of the better known soundtracks that Koshiro contributed to, among others.

Absolutely stunning stuff

Another notable soundtrack that has been applauded time and time again is Superb Smash Bro’s Brawl which Koshiro also contributed to. The sweeping orchestral soundtrack to Nintendo’s beat-em-up has captivated gamers for years and Koshiro’s rendition of Koji Kondo’s Legend of Zelda theme is one of the reasons why.

While Koshiro continues to compose for both television and games, he does so liberally. Yet, his fan base continues to grow and grow. We can only hope that if SEGA does get around to creating a fourth Streets of Rage that they put in a call to Koshiro and Ancient Team to ask them to collaborate on the project.

To cap off this post, here is another truly defining Koshiro tune. Legandary.

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2 responses to “Week of Rage: Streets of Rage Composer Yuzo Koshiro

  1. I don’t know why almost everyone seems to ignore Yuzo’s work on SOR 1 and only praise 2 all day.

    Streets of Rage 1 is the superior soundtrack from the series, even though 2 is just as good.

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