Top 25 Soundtracks 2011: Number 19

Number 19: Streets of Rage 2

Back in the 16-bit days of gaming, a soundtrack seeing a separate release was almost unheard of. Nowadays it is much easier to find a CD copy of say FFVI somewhere, but most of us forget that these soundtracks were almost always released years after the game itself came out.

Not so with the Streets of Rage series. Not only was the music good enough to warrant a CD release with the game (one of the few retro gaming titles to earn such an honor) but the games excellent beats catapulted the composer Yuzo Koshiro into the public spotlight. By the time Streets of Rage 2 hit the market, Koshiro was important enough to have his name featured right on the title screen.

Streets of Rage 2 is an epic soundtrack that deserves to be in the top 20 and honestly, I'm glad that it made it here. SoR2 is without a doubt one of the finer examples of what composers could do with the simple instrumentation of an old sound chip. From the first moment to the last, SoR2 stands strong.

So where to begin? SoR2's strongest point is, plain and simple, the amount of sheer enjoyment the soundtrack brings. It's fun to listen to! You'll start off thinking about it for a minute, but before you know it the music has pulled you into it's world. It's catchy, with a strong lead melody and a beat that's very easy to get into without being to overpowering. SoR2 is enjoyed easily, for the most part, without any knowledge of the game at all.

At the same time, it's music fits the game world so well it wouldn't even work to say like a glove. In many ways, much of the music in SoR2 was the game. Sure, we all loved the boat level because of the clever screen-bob that made it feel like we were actually on a ship, but we also loved it for its slow but oh-so-catchy theme, Slow Moon Groove. Admittedly, its debatable that SoR2 shouldn't really score that highly for Stand-Alone-Quality not because it isn't capable of standing solo, but because this music is wired into the brain of any SoR2 player to the point of mnemonic memory.

With the composition being that strong, it isn't hard to envision if not the game, then at least the environment if you've never seen it. Once someone plays this song and says "baseball stadium." you'll say "Well duh! Of course it is!"

SoR2 is a hard hitting, never-let-you-breath kind of soundtrack. Whether it's the music of an elevator hidden in the middle of a baseball field (well, it was the nineties) or the terrifyingly simple and dangerous theme of Shiva, or the even the tense build up to the final boss himself (which should be a basic requirement for listening to game music) SoR2 is a dazzling display of skill and talent in the 16-bit era.

Streets of Rage 2
Enjoyment: 3.75
Stand Alone Quality: 3
Composition: 3.25
Emotional Reaction: 3.75
Non-Gamer Enjoyment: 1
Nostalgia: 1
TOTAL: 3.94

Number 19--Streets of Rage 2 by Yuzo Koshiro
Number 20--Final Fantasy VII by Nobuo Uematsu
Number 21--Shadow of the Colossus by Kow Otani
Number 22--Chrono Cross by Yasunori Mitsuda.
Number 23--Sonic CD US by Spencer Nilsen.
Number 24--Megaman II by Manami Matsumae, Yoshihiro Sakaguchi, and Takashi Tateishi
Number 25--Dawn of War II by Doyle W. Donehoo

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