It is well known that Streets of Rage 3, until late in its development, had motorbike stages. Some of these unfinished stages remain hidden in the final game.

These YouTube videos show the motorbike stages in action, restored through a hacked version of the BKIII ROM (download the IPS Patch further below):

                           


People who read a preview of Streets of Rage 3 back in 1994 from 'Mean Machines Sega' may remember the screenshot below showing Axel & Blaze riding motorbikes (Credit to Iceweb38):

 

 

Take a look at the one to the right from a pre-release preview version of the game (thanks for the scan go out to Azothoth). I certainly remember shots like this, and was confused not to ever find those sections in the final game.

 

These sections can split up into two types. The first were sub-stages of Round 7, with a different level depending on whether you saved the Chief of Police. These levels were not removed from the final version; instead the game skips them, starting Stage 7(A)/(B) on Scene 2 instead of Scene 1. These are fairly well-known about and are covered in detail below.

The second were stages within a normal level that allowed you to ride a motorbike. There is little information about these other than a few scanned screenshots, one of which you can see below the Round 7 Stages.

Stage outline

The Wastelands was supposed to come before Round 7(A), as the heroes make their way to Mr X's hidden robot factory. You ride along a desert highway, dodging petrol bombs being thrown by the bikers,
This stage has some nice graphics. This shot shows one of the buildings you pass every so often.
Take a close look at the road signs. "Welcome to Bare Knuckle"?! And that blue hedgehog kinda looks familiar...

Graphics problems

The motorbike-riding sprites for the players are still in the ROM, and were completed, as the scanned screenshot shows. However, it appears that the code in the levels was not updated to take account of changes of the locations of graphics within the ROM, so the game is unable to use them (this causes slowdown).

How to force the game to show players

When you start the level the players are invisible (which is why they are missing from the screenshots here), but it is possible to get the characters to appear by playing two player and getting them to grab each other ready for a throw. As you can see from the shot on the right hey use their walking animation on top of a motorbike sprite. You can perform most of your moves while on the bike, and can attack the bikers and each other, which is pretty good.

(This of course refers to the 'official' ROM. There is now a ROM hack with motorcycle sections restored with their proper graphics, see further below)

Stage outline

The Bridge was intended to be before Round 7(B) City Hall. You ride out of the city across a bridge, while a Syndicate punk in a van trys to stop you. The game is very slow due to the way the game doesn't know where to look for the riding sprites - to stop this either use Shiva or hold down right.

Most of the time the Donovan punk kicks barrels off the van at you, and you have to dodge them.

After a while the van slows and gets alongside you. Donovan then tries to take you out by throwing knives at you.
Finally, the van crashes and Donovan goes through the back window. The City Hall level then starts.

Unused graphics

If you view the graphics loaded into RAM during the level you find this barrier (used in the first scene of Round 2). Although it is not present in the final version of the game, it's possible that earlier versions required you to dodge these barriers.

Differences with magazine screenshot

Interestingly, the Bridge level doesn't feature bikers with petrol bombs as shown in the scanned screenshot above. Also, the screenshot shows a nameless biker health bar, which is much larger than normal (maybe it was for the van?). The screenshot also shows Blaze away from the left edge of the screen; in the left-over parts of the levels in the final it is impossible to move left or right, only up or down.

All the above shots were taken in Bare Knuckle III, as the Round 7 motorbike stages are corrupted in Streets of Rage 3 as shown below.
In addition to the corrupted graphics and palettes there are other differences. Firstly, the Wastelands ends almost as soon as it begins - this was programmed in for some reason - whilst the Bridge crashes the game when it ends. Secondly, there is no slowdown problem in Streets of Rage 3. If you make the characters visible the reason for this soon becomes apparent; the riding graphics are no longer being used. Instead, the normal graphics are being used, which looks very strange.

The graphical differences initially appear to be due simply to the graphics used being in different locations in the SOR3 ROM (compared to the Bare Knuckle III ROM), and so the conversion team saw no need to update the code of unused levels). It is possible to restore the graphics by copying the relevant data from a BKIII savestate. However, on closer inspection it appears that large parts of the data for the levels, such as the graphics and palettes were deleted entirely during the conversion from BKIII, and other game data was moved to fill up the space (for example, the position where the palette for the Bridge level should be is filled with code that appears after the palette in the BKIII ROM). This certainly explains the graphics corruption, and also means that editing the ROM to play the levels correctly (like in BKIII) would be quite complex.

The bugs where the Bridge crashes at the end of the level and the Wastelands ends as soon as it begins also appear to be due to this overwriting of data. If the graphics etc are copied from a BKIII savestate into a SOR3 savestate, these bugs no longer occur.

Round 2 Motorbike Stage


Take a look at these amazing scans from a game advertisement insert from the Japanese version of Virtua Racing, sent to me by Pachuka. These show Axel riding one of the bikers' motorcycles in the opening scene of Round 2! This means that there were other sections within the game where it was possible to ride motorcycles. That these scans show an earlier version of Bare Knuckle III is confirmed by looking at Axel's icon in any of the pictures; it's still his SOR2 icon rather than his SOR3 one. Here's a close-up scan:

Also, notice how Beta Zan is slightly different from his final appearance, and the up-skirt shot of Blaze.

Round 1 Motorbike Stage

This ties in with my memory of a preview screenshot showing Axel riding a motorcycle on the Harbour scene of Round 1. Both these places have parts where bikers rush onto the screen - were you once able to take their bikes from them? If you were it would explain why the bikes land on their sides and then suddenly disappear without exploding (unlike in SOR2 where they simply explode).

Alternate Routes?

I also remember a brief bit of information about the ability to choose your route through the game, presumably Round 6. But this was alongside the Axel motorbike shot, which does imply that alternate routes were available at other points in the game - did taking a motorbike allow you to access biking sections within a level instead fighting the punks by hand? This theory is supported by Round 5, which has a number of alternate routes; it is possible that all the stages did at one point have alternate routes planned for them.

Look closely at the background, and then compare it to Round 2 Scene 1. This particular part of the level does not appear in the final version. This means that either this motorbike scene was an entirely separate scene from Round 2, or an extended part of it that we can no longer access. When fighting Roo & Bruce in the final version the background appears almost similar, and if it continued to the right it could well look like the background in the scan. This opens up the possibility that originally you had a motorbike scene after this section of the level.

It is possible to play both the Wastelands and Bridge stages in the final version of the game. However, they only work properly in Bare Knuckle III, as in Streets of Rage 3 the graphics are corrupted (see the differences), and the Wastelands ends almost as soon as it begins.

There are a number of ways to play the levels:

Action Replay Codes: Instead of using a different code to access each secret level, you can simply use this code - FFFB01:0010 - to bring up the secret level select, which allows access to any scene in the game, including the hidden Round 7 Scene 1's. It works in both SOR3 & BKIII. [cabo-hicks]

Gens/Genecyst Savestates: Alternatively you can use these savestates, sent in by Felipe Moniz.

Savestate Hacking: By changing certain addresses in a hexeditor you can select any level in the game - including the hidden ones. Go to SOR3 Hacking for more information.

Hacked ROM with levels and graphics restored: The easiest (and best) way to play the Wastelands and Bridge stages is to use this IPS Patch to create a hacked ROM, developed by RedCrimson. Here the corrupted graphics have been restored, so you can effectively play the levels as they were once intended. To play, load the ROM hack into your emulator then use the savestate by Felipe Moniz to access the hidden levels.

Release Notes (courtesy of Glisp):

Its not 100% perfect. Turns out that there may have actually been sprites that were deleted from the game before it was released or never added at all. Most notably at the end of a stage, when you beat it, your character seems to dismount the bike but the game slows down and graphics garble up.

Also if you are knocked down at all while starting the bike stage you automatically die and the game slows down even worse than without the bike sprites. It is recommended that you use save states until you get good at the levels.

You can only play through the stages with the motor bike sprites as Axel. The other character's sprites haven't been implemented yet.

Getting hit and knocked down with a full health bar will make you lose the bike animations permanently until you die. you will use your normal walking animations instead. Also, secret characters lack motorbike sprite animations and use their running sprites instead.