Axel’s Streets of Rage special was actually ‘Ground Upper’ all along and what can I believe anymore?

When the legend is better than the truth, print the legend

Yesterday marked the 30th anniversary of Sega’s street-scrappin’ brawler, Streets of Rage. In order to mark 30 long years of great vigilante action, composer Yuzo Koshiro decided to ruin the party for everybody — revealing that we’ve all been shouting out a legendary soundbite incorrectly for the past three decades.

As revealed in a new video by Koshiro, whose incredible music is a huge part of bringing life and identity to the Streets of Rage franchise, Axel Stone’s famous “GRAND UPPER!” is actually “GROUND UPPER!” and it always has been. I’ll give you a minute to come to terms with that reality before explaining how this shattering misconception came about…

…You ok now? Anyway, not only have players (including myself) been hearing “Grand Upper” for all these years due to a combination of phonetic translation and 16-bit synthesis, but Sega itself listed the maneuver as such in the manual for Streets of Rage 2, where the powerful uppercut made its debut appearance. Koshiro just simply never corrected anybody until yesterday, when he felt the need to drop said truth bomb on us, leaving SoR fans reeling like they’d just gone five rounds with Max Thunder.

Some people have since suggested that they have always known it was “Ground Upper”. No, you didn’t, stop being cool. As Koshiro notes, however, it doesn’t really matter either way. All that matters is that you enjoy the series and that you enjoy yourselves. Good thing too, as there’s no way I’m ever not screaming “GRAND UPPER!” going forward — whether gaming, shopping, in bed, or at funerals. I’m not changing the habit of a lifetime, truth be damned.

Streets of Rage 4: Mr. X Nightmare DLC is now available on all platforms. It’s excellent.

Chris Moyse
Senior Editor - Chris has been playing video games since the 1980s. Former Saturday Night Slam Master. Graduated from Galaxy High with honors. Twitter: @ChrisxMoyse