It's the time of the year when the days get shorter, retailers stay open longer, big games are released and there seems to be a holiday every other week. Defunct Games wants to ring in this festive season with a look at the most memorable video game themes of all time. For five weeks straight, Cyril Lachel and Kevin Bailey will share their thoughts on themes from the last thirty years. Join us every day between November 22 and December 25 for The 34 Game Themes of Christmas!
Streets of Rage
[ Company: Sega | Year: 1991 | Console: Genesis ]
Released to coincide with the home port of Final Fight, Streets of Rage did everything Capcom's much-anticipated Super NES brawler couldn't. This Sega stunner offered explosive two-player action, an impressive amount of stages, multiple characters to choose from and a whole lot of amazing music. This Genesis-exclusive managed to do the impossible -- make critics completely forget about Final Fight.
Who let Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds in the building? As the song starts, you can almost see a heartbroken man crying over the pictures of his true love. But the snappy drum beat and the funky guitars aren't going to let him be depressed for long. Pretty soon the piano player is making a convincing argument that you should turn that frown upside down. Throw away those sad pictures and get down to a bass solo so funky that even Bootsy Collins would approve. Eventually the song scraps the funky bass, catchy drumbeat and bluesy guitar, giving the piano player the last word. It's here in these final measures where I realized that this Streets of Rage theme transcended video games. This is a real song, not a fifteen second melody that is easy to loop. This theme song is a masterpiece.
With a title like Streets of Rage, you'd expect the theme song to be very angry and in your face. Instead we get a much more low key, moody R&B piece. As the story scrolls by, you can get a feel for why they'd go with R&B: The city was once peaceful and is now corrupt and violent, a great reason to have the blues. But then you also have the rhythm putting an aggressive feeling behind those blues. It's a two minute song with enough changes to not get boring, a bluesy lead guitar, and several rhythm variations. It also has a proper beginning and end, a complete composition. Though musically very simple, this theme song does exactly what it needs to do, putting you in the perfect mindset for the game ahead.
It's about time the Italian plumber makes an appearance on 34 Theme Songs of Christmas! But don't get too excited, because it's not the theme you're thinking of. Instead this comes from a slightly newer game, perhaps something you picked up at launch.