Bare Knuckle :: Review by Don
Bare Knuckle, known as Streets of Rage outside of Japan, was a fighting game similar to that of Double Dragon in terms of progression. Scored by Yuzo Koshiro, known for his contributions to the Ys series and The Revenge of Shinobi, it offered a very rhythmic focus to set the stage for some of the most fun music for the Sega Mega Drive.
Bare Knuckle is a soundtrack all about the funk! Every track has a very club music feel to them, with a variety of styles throughout the soundtrack. It's definitely a soundtrack you could dance the night to, if anything. The soundtrack is extremely mesmerizing on the whole and a fan of this musical style would absolutely love this one. The main theme, "The Street of Rage," is very bass heavy with a focus on some eerie synth in the melody. It's not one of the stronger tracks on the album, but it is one that is very catchy.
Most of my favorites lay in the early sections of the soundtracks, such as "Fighting in the Street," perhaps the most popular Streets of Rage track, and "Attack the Barbarian." Both of these are prime examples of what Koshiro can do when he gets his hands on a nice set of samples. Both are rhythmically driven, but the jazzy nature in the former, and the mixing in the latter are what make them stand out to me. Other notable tracks include "Dilapidated Town" and "Up and Up," plus a myriad of others. I'd say the weakest tracks are "The Super Threc" and "Beatnik on a Ship," although they, too, are very enjoyable.
In addition to the original soundtrack, this album also contains five arrangements. The main theme, "The Street of Rage," sounds more like a remastering than anything, although the addition of some industrial sounds is rather nice. "Fighting in the Street" is shortened from its original and has a much jazzier sound to it. It's a nice arrangement, but I prefer the original, ever so slightly. The other arrangements, "The Last Soul" and "Keep the Groovin', are nice, but they weren't some of my favorites on the original sound version either.
Perhaps the most surprising is the arrangement of "You Became the Bad Guy." While the original started off with a very sinister sound, this arrangement greets you with what seems to be the exact opposite a very happy piano melody. As the track progresses, the sinister elements heard in the original are added, but overall, the arrangement is rather mellow. It's still quite nice though!
Bare Knuckle is the first in a set of three games for the Sega Genesis. Koshiro created a very nice soundtrack with this one, quite befitting of the urban environments you'd traverse. It's a very club-like soundtrack with plenty of music to get your groove on. I hope you do, because this soundtrack, while not the best in the series, was the trendsetter for the rest!
Overall Score: 8/10