How to Make the Perfect Beat'em Up Music?
Updated: Mar 6
It is well-known among retro gamers that the Street of Rage OST is some of the best music around in the beat 'em up genre. SOR catchy tunes and punchy synths will grab your attention as soon as you pop the game cartridge into your Sega Genesis.
That being said, what made it so good in the first place? Embark with me on this journey to explore the acid techno vibe of Streets of Rage. Not only will we explore the reason why SOR OST is always among the best top 10 video game soundtracks, but we will also try to recreate it!
A beatem up music package in the making?
I started working on one of my next music loop bundles a while ago. I wanted to have 5 great action music tracks that would fit perfectly in any beatemup game.
So I inevitably decided to choose one of my favorite SOR2 music tracks as an inspiration, which is called Alien Power. Let's listen to it:
What makes this track so special for me, it's the transition at the 1:00 mark. The aggressive synthesizer pops out of nowhere, delivering a sick punchy vibe to the fights on screen.
Ultimately, this is what I wanted for my first attempt at making a good beatemup soundtrack. In other words, the hero of this dish will be this out-of-nowhere intense lead synth.
***Bare in mind that this will be a DEMO and not the full track***
Therefore, you can see this as Part 1, the next part where I actually am fleshing out the song will come later.
How to make the intro to a beat em up fighting music?
Alright, before we get into the nitty gritty of this huge crunchy acid synth, we need the best intro we can muster in order to deliver a similar punch to the Alien Power track.
I decided to go with the following:
- A simple bass line,
- A slow bumpy kick, 100 bpm,
- And a ''kick the can in a tunnel'' background sound to add some tone and ambiance to the whole thing.
This is what we got so far:
Not too shabby so far, but that alone wouldn't be enough would it? So in order to intensify what we have, I added one very crunchy and almost glitchy layer to our bassline.
I discovered through the years that sometimes, less is more. You don't always need to have that super melodic progression in order to deliver the goods.
Anyways, Alien Power doesn't have much melody, it's all about that build-up baby!
So with that said, here's what we have now:
How to choose the best synth for video game music?
Now that we gathered enough stuff for our intro, it's time for the fun part: what synthesizer should we choose for the epic moment of our SOR-style soundtrack?
We want the following attributes:
- Something loud, very loud!
- An aggressive tone
- Something wide, that takes a lot of spatial space
- And finally, we want a crunchy texture, a bit noisy, almost as if it was coming out straight up from the Sega Genesis itself.
My search wasn't that long, I actually found exactly the perfect candidate in like 2 minutes. Don't you love it when it does that? When you just find the perfect sound in a huge library, like if it was just meant to be? :D
Here's the sound I fell in love with:
Editing, mixing, and mastering a beat'em up OST
We are almost there, we have all the main elements to make an epic Street of Rage sequel soundtrack! Mouahaha!
So in order to make everything a bit more interesting, I added a few things:
Small transitions in order to spice up the progression
A lot of drums, and I mean, A LOT! In the climax section with the big synth
I did minimal work on the overall mix so the sounds come out nice and crispy
Finalizing our Beat'em up Game Music
Bare in mind that I am not Hans Zimmer there so I don't pretend that everything is perfect. This free beatem up music loop will evolve later on. This means that if you click on that LOG IN button at the top, you will be notified when the Part 2 of this journey is available. But for now, here's the final product when we put everything together:
Wait, did I say FREE BEAT'EM UP MUSIC LOOP?
Oh, yes, I did say the word free. As a matter of fact, for a limited time only, you can get this perfectly loopable background music for free. Just click here and download it, it's all yours! If you happen to use it in a game project, just put LAJAUDIO in the credits please, thanks!
A final word on this epic journey
SOR music composer Yuzo Koshiro did a hell of a job with this insane Genesis OST. It is definitely timeless and also one of the best SEGA soundtracks. I hope this first blog post gave you a good peek at how the music of Streets of Rage was composed. The great stuff is coming soon and I will add more flesh to the bones. Miamm! ^^
And also, I hope you enjoyed following me through the steps of composing a beat'em video game music loop.
I will create a newsletter soon, but for now, please stay tuned for my next blog post! :)