Today on Hidden Gem we are going to talk about two important people who brought the music scene from the club scene to video games and change the way music was heard in gaming and they are Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima.
Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima both have different backgrounds in music, Koshiro is a composer/musician/programmer while Kawashima is a composer/DJ. Koshiro has been working the gaming music scene since 1986 with his first job was Xanadu Scenario II. He would later go on to do a lot of music for other famous video games such as
Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished
Dark Storm: Demon Crystal
The Revenge of Shinobi
Kawashima first hit the scene in 1992 with the 8-bit version of Batman Returns and then he would team up with Koshiro to do the soundtrack for Shinobi II: The Silent Fury later that year. Now you’re wondering why I’m talking about these two and what makes these two important, well it’s because of a video game series that Sega created and that game is Bare Knuckle or better known in the US as Streets of Rage.
This beat ’em up series was created by Sega exclusively to the Sega Mega Drive/Sega Genesis back in 1991. Yuzo did all of the music on the first game. At this time he was very influenced by electronic music, techno music, and house music. The only place he could have listened to this style of music was during the club scene in Japan. For the soundtrack, he created a programming language while using PC-88 which he called Music Macro Language or MML for short. The reason for the MML was that Yuzo wanted to emulate the trimber and percussion sound of the Roland rhythm machine and put them into gaming. The result was a sound like no other at the time and since. Here is a sample from this game with the track Fighting in the Street.
Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima were tasked to work on the soundtrack with the second game of the series and they created what many would consider a soundtrack that was revolutionary and ahead of its time. Just listen to the first track which was titled Go Straight and you can see there was nothing sounding like that in video games in 1992 and it stands the test of time. If you were to play this in a club today, no one could tell the difference and would think it was some kind of new style of music.
There were also tasked to do the music for the third game, and for this one, they took a different route. Instead of going for the club scene sound, like the first two, they went with a fast-beat jungle techno style with a mix of abstract, experimental, trance music. Here is a sample from this game with the track Fuze.
Both Yuzo Koshiro and Motohiro Kawashima would go on to become trendsetters and influencers with this series soundtracks and are still creating music to this day. If you want to see how they did the work for this series, watch the series Diggin The Carts.