Bare Knuckle III was heavily altered for it's Western release as Streets of Rage 3. As well as other changes, the storyline was radically changed, although only a sketchy outline of Bare Knuckle III's plot has been possible for many years because of the Japanese dialogue.

Now, thanks to Anton Berglin we have a translation of the game's Japanese text, which in early 2009 led to a fan-produced ROM hack of a fully English-language BKIII (Thanks to RedComet for this IPS Patch).

If you want to got straight to the translated dialogue jump to this section. The equivalent text in Streets of Rage 3 is colored in grey to distinguish it from the new translated text.

 

Introduction screens

Wood Oak City is destroyed by a nuclear weapon containing Rakushin, a new radioactive element with atomic number 122 that was discovered by a Dr Gilbert. Note that in the real world, the elementary table stops at 118 (Ununoctium).

Blaze's letter to Axel makes a connection between the Wood Oak incident and the theft of a large quantity of Rakushin by the Syndicate. She also notes the abduction of high-ranking General Petrov (obviously worrying given the tense situation). Unlike Streets of Rage 3, both Blaze and Axel work for the National Police Agency and are both present in the city.

Though it is not stated in game, Zan must have made contact with Blaze and offered information on the location of Rakushin-bombs placed in the city. Interestingly Streets of Rage 3 does say that Zan makes contact with her.

The computer message is presumably from Dr Zan telling them of a bomb at the south pier warehouse. If this is true he must meet the team there where they defuse the bomb. Axel tells Blaze to send a message to Adam to collect the bomb and keep searching for others. The team are then ambushed by Syndicate thugs.

Round 1

Skate swears at Shiva as he escapes. Zan informs the team that the next bomb is at a disco. This makes much more sense than Streets of Rage 3, where Blaze seems to decide to go there on guesswork.

Round 2

The team do not find any bomb. The note left by the Syndicate tells them to go to the construction site if they want to find General Petrov. The news broadcast implicates Axel in the disappearance of General Petrov.

Round 3

After destroying Axel's replica, Skate turns on Zan, accusing him of giving them false information (ie the disco bomb and the General). Blaze comes to Zan's defense. Axel hears thugs in the subway below taunting them.

Round 4

Axel presses Zan on the reasons for Petrov's kidnapping. Zan gives in and tells Axel that the Syndicate plans to start a war and take advantage of the demand for Rakushin (remember the Syndicate have stolen a large quantity). General Petrov is an obstacle to sparking this war so Mr X has had him kidnapped.

Round 5

Mr. X greets the team and taunts them about Petrov. He states that the Syndicate has replaced him with a "disguised general" (ie Shiva) and not a robot. There are no substitute robot clones in Bare Knuckle III; This was something invented for Streets of Rage 3. The robot look-alike of Axel is just to cause trouble for him and plays no bigger role in the plot.

After defeating Robo X, it tells them that poison gas will soon fill the building. Zan says that the General can be saved if they can destroy two barrier units (a helpful hint missing from Streets of Rage 3).

Round 6

If the General is saved, we discover that he and Zan know each other already from the military... and that Zan is in fact Dr Gilbert, the discoverer of Rakushin. He tells the team to use a secret elevator to escape; this could possibly refer to the hidden elevator found in Round 6 through hacking.

If the General dies, he tells the team of Mr X's plan for the war and Rakushin. He and Zan obviously know each other but Blaze does not question this in the way she does if the General lives.

If you rescue the General, Adam has found the Syndicates hideout so you can go there. If you didn't, Adam hasn't found it yet. Interestingly, Streets of Rage 3 (and not Bare Knuckle III) makes reference to Blaze's message from the start of Round 1 here, even though she doesn't even send it in the Western version.

Round 7(A)

The team find Mr X's brain. He tells them that his robots have placed Rakushin-bombs in neighboring countries, ready to spark the war (obviously Mr X is unaware that Adam has stopped his fake General). This is different to Streets of Rage 3, where the bombs are in the city.

Round 7(B)

At the press conference, the fake General is speaking about tough military actions that need to be taken. the team interrupt and expose Shiva.

Round 7(A) Unsuccessful Ending

As in Streets of Rage 3, Mr. X starts the self-destruct and the team are rescued by Adam. A full scale war is avoided thanks to the exposure of the fake General, but there are many deaths due to the bombs.

Round 7(A) Successful Ending

As in Streets of Rage 3, Mr. X starts the self-destruct and the team are rescued by Adam, who has exposed the fake General. The bombs are defused, and the city quickly drifts back to normality.

Round 7(B) Ending

As in Streets of Rage 3, Shiva refuses to tell Zan where Mr X is hiding and Zan promises to hunt him down.

The changes to the storyline obviously affects the endings. As Crono 1000 has pointed out in Bare Knuckle III you have successfully prevented a devastating war by rescuing the General in both Round 7(A) endings and the destruction in the caused by the bombs is just a little nuance, while in Streets of Rage 3 you basically have failed your task if you let the time run out. This explains why Bare Knuckle III still runs the credits and stuff at the Round 7(A) Failure ending and Streets of Rage 3 does not.

Other points

Some other little points.
  • Lima/Rima may either be the country where Wood Oak city is or if it's the neighboring country. The skyline is clearly US, and the name English, but the supreme commander has a Russian name. Possibly it is a group of countries.
  • In the cutscenes the order and length of each persons lines generally correspond but is mostly replaced with meaningless talk in Streets of Rage 3.
  • Some of the taunts after VS matches are kind of funny. For example, when Axel loses to Skate, he says "Please don't tell Adam!", but when he wins over Zan he says "That junk body is no match for me."
  • The language is harsher.
  • The BKIII story makes a lot more sense with no obvious plotholes.

Bare Knuckle III has an intro sequence before the title screen showing the destruction of Wood Oak City in a nuclear blast that was removed from Streets of Rage 3. The text is as follows:

Wood Oak City

Casualties: estimated 30000
Wounded: estimated 80000

The atom with atomic number 122, Rakushin, was discovered by Dr. Gilbert.

But, when that atom decays, it is confirmed that a large quantity of radioactivity is emitted.

It ushered/led to the worst incident in history.

Blaze's letter obviously features the General instead of the Chief of Police, and has different text:

Axel.

Take a look at the enclosed newspaper cutouts and photos.

"Big explosion of the devil-atom Rakushin! Terrible disaster in Wood Oak City 30,000 dead and 80,000 wounded A connection between the syndicate and the disappearance of a large quantity of Rakushin from Killey research institute has been found. A crime of the organization's accomplices?"

On the same day as the Rakushin explosion incident, the military's supreme commander, general Petrov, has mysteriously disappeared!"

These two incidents are our mission, Axel.

Your Partner, Blaze.

Axel,

I have learned from a new friend, Dr. Zan, that the syndicate is back with a clever new plan to take control of the city by replacing top-ranking officials with identical robots under the control of Mr. X.

Our old boss, the chief of police, has disappeared and everybody in the city is preoccupied with the recent spate of bomb explosions.

I fear that the syndicate's evil plan is already underway. Adam is too busy to help, but his brother Skate is joining Dr. Zan and me to try and get behind the bombing campaign and expose the real danger in the city.

We need your help, Axel. Please come.

Your Partner, Blaze

If you leave the game alone it will show brief characters bios following the demo.

Axel Stone - Reinstated as policeman, belonging to special investigations. In charge of the Rakushin incident. Martial arts master.
Blaze Fielding - As Axel, belonging to special investigations. In charge of the Rakushin incident. Judo master.
Sammy Hunter - Adam's little brother. Heard about the Rakushin incident and assists the two people (Axel and Blaze?).
Dr. Zan - Researcher of the syndicate, injured his body while experimenting, and turned himself into a cyborg.
Axel Stone - Martial artist returns to the city.
Blaze Fielding - Judo expert heads up the task force.
Skate Hunter - Keen to help his brother's friends.
Dr Zan - Cyborg out to stop Mr X and the syndicate.

Note: This initial part of this cut scene showing a computer screen was removed from Streets of Rage 3. The screen reads:
Rakushin will explode.
Urgent that you come.
Place is south pier warehouse.
Place is south pier warehouse.
A bomb is counting down. Footsteps can be heard running toward it. The timer stops at 3 seconds.
(Breathing heavily?) We were in time. Nearly became Wood Oak's second tragedy, didn't it...
Phew! That was close. Another few seconds and... BOOM!
Phew, close call, wasn't it. Thinking about if we would have been 3 seconds later makes me shiver.
Yes, we're lucky we found the bomb. What's our next move, Axel?
Blaze, can you send a message to Adam? (Citing:) "At the street which Zan, the Syndicate's old man, told us about... there was a Rakushin-bomb, dismantle it safely. And also, keep an eye out (?) for the next unit."
Well, Zan was right about the bomb. Maybe's he's right about the robots too. But I'll have to see it to believe it. Let's try to get a lead from the punks.
Hey, does it look like we have time to rest? Those bastards are coming this way.
I'm sorry you don't believe me, Axel, but there's no time to waste. Let's go!

Shit! He picked a fight and then just cowardly ran away! Come back here you! Shit!
I can't believe it. No one told me a thing.
Hurry up! The second unit of Rakushin is going to explode, we don't have time!
We're wasting time fighting these punks.
But where is it?!
I think I have an idea of where to go now.
At the disco in the shopping district. Atlas!
I hope you're right.

Motorbikes can be heard speeding away. A note falls from the ceiling.
If you want to meet the General, come to the construction site in K district.
Come and inspect the building of our new mall.
What's that supposed to mean?
I knew this place was linked with the Syndicate.
We have received news on the incident of General Petrov's kidnapping. We have obtained information that the policeman Axel Stone is part of the group of criminals responsible for the kidnapping of the General.
We interrupt this programme for an important announcement. The Chief of Police has been kidnapped. The last person to be seen with him was ex-cop Axel Stone.
What?!
What! I haven't seen him in over six months.
The National Police Agency is denying it, but according to an investigation by authorities, the apprehension of Axel Stone is only a matter of time.
Coming at this time, the loss of such a senior city figure can only mean further mayhem if more bombs explode.
There's no time to worry about that. Let's turn to saving the General.
I think this means trouble. Let's get to the construction site.

The team look at the destroyed robotic replica of Axel.
A robot...
A robot that looked just like me!
Hey you, Zan. Fact is, shouldn't you be hiding? (? Could also be: Aren't you one of them?) There doesn't seem to be any general anywhere either. Also, in the disco there was no bomb... As I thought, we can't trust a scientist of the Syndicate!
So, it seems you're right, Dr. Zan. Now tell us why you're helping us. That robot nearly killed us. How do we know this isn't a trap?
So that's how it is now... (untranslatable)
It might be a trap, but I didn't set it!
What are you saying! Up to now he has put himself to a big risk by leaving the Syndicate. He trusted us. That's...
Skate, how can you accuse Dr. Zan! Without his help we would know nothing. I trust Dr. Zan. Please apologize to him.
Put aside your differences. Look down here. (picture of hatch) Those bastards are calling for us.
Stop arguing and look over here! (picture of a door appears) This concealed door has been used recently.

Zan. You know why the General was kidnapped, don't you? Shouldn't there be some connection to Wood Oak City?
This must be the syndicate's hideout. Do you recognize this place, Zan?
That is something I don't know.
No, I've never been here before.
Is that the truth?
Let's press on and see what we find.
Note: The end of this cutscene was removed entirely from Streets of Rage 3. As Axel talks, the destruction of Wood Oak City is shown again.
Do you want to see another ray of light rising from Wood Oak? A terrible radioactive light! Because of that, several tens of thousands people will be suffering while dying! Well? Does that sound good to you?
Eh... it's a war. (?) They are causing a war between Lima's various countries. (Lima is where WOC is?) They are doing it in order to smuggle Rakushin. Therefore, the general who was opposing the war between Lima's various countries was an obstacle.

Mister X!
Mr. X!
You got here fast, didn't you, Axel. And your group of gentlemen and ladies. Until you got here, I was going to elaborate on various plans, but... Did you have fun?
Welcome to my humble abode. I've been expecting you for some time. Tell me, Axel, what kept you?
Enough boasting. Moreover, what have you done to General Petrov?
Enough of your games! What's going on?
Aah, that matter. You don't need to worry. I've already done you the favour of setting him free. But of course, it was our group's disguised general.
I am replacing the current city administration with some more dependable subjects, starting with the Chief of Police.
Why YOU..! (Very rude.)
What have you done with him?
My, calm down a little. If I killed him I wouldn't be telling you. (??) However, if you can meet him or not depends on you, doesn't it!
Relax. He is in a safe place awaiting your rescue attempt. Why don't you come and join me?

Ha ha ha. Doctor Zan. I have wonderful news for you. It has been arranged so that your research results will soon be implemented. However, it's a shame that I cannot show these results to you. Because I have arranged that you will sleep forever together with the general, by poison gas. Ha ha ha ha ha!
I see you continue to destroy what I create. It is obvious you will not join the Syndicate so I have no further use for the Chief of Police. You will not defeat my other robots so easily, Dr. Zan knows this model was an early prototype.
If we destroy the barrier control units in two of the rooms somewhere here, ...... we should be able to rescue the General. Let's go!
He's right, Axel. We must rescue the Chief of Police before the robot version appears in public.

(A) The team manage to rescue the General in time.

Note: The dialogue does not match up exactly for this section

Are you General Petrov...?
Ivan. You look like you're okay.
Thank goodness you're alive.
Oh, is it you Gilbert? That you should see me in this unpresentable condition.
I feel weak but I am unharmed.
Eh? You're acquainted? And you said Gilbert...
Chief, it's really good to see you again.
You didn't know? This is the man who discovered Rakushin. He is also a close friend of mine from our military service. However, the results which he made by pure/genuine experiments has become such an (evil?) thing... (?) (possibly he's hinting that Zan never intended for his research to be used in this way, i.e. for blowing up cities.)
Blaze, I'm glad you're still in shape. I have no idea why I was kidnapped. Does it have anything to do with the bombings?
That's enough talking. Let's escape from this place quickly
There's no time to explain, Sir. You must get back to City Hall, immediately.
There's a secret elevator. Let's use that one.
You're right. I have a press conference in an hour.
(B) The team reach the General too late; it looks like he's dead.
General Petrov, are you all right?
Oh no. We're too late. He's dead.
Ivan! Are you all right?!
No. He's still breathing, faintly.
Ooh... Gilbert...? That you should see me in this unpresentable condition...
Not going to make it.
Stay calm Ivan!
We can get you to a hospital.
I'm already done for... But ... *cough* ... They have made a replacement for me, they intend to cause a war... And, they are doing it to create a market... for large quantities of Rakushin...
No. Must listen. Great danger. Press conference. City Hall. Speech.
That's enough... Don't talk any more.
I can barely hear you. What about your speech?
Please... stop their plan! *cough cough cough* Get (me?) out... of here... (? Perhaps: I'm dying)
Robot. Impostor.
Ivaaaan!!
We've got to get to City Hall and expose the impostor.

(A) The team help the General onto the helicopter.
Yo!
Well, well, well. If it isn't the old gang in trouble again.
Adam!!
Adam!
Maybe that was unnecessary/over the top. I was watching from behind and just now I got impatient.
I got your message Blaze. Somehow I thought I'd find you here.
Adam, did you find out where the syndicate's hiding place is?
Adam, you must get the Chief to City Hall.
In the Green Leaf district to the southwest there is a small discharge of Rakushin. There's a scrapped factory which went bankrupt a number of years ago there.
Why? What's all the hurry? He's safe now, and should get some rest first.
I see... Adam, please protect the general. That, and capture the false general.
Mr. X has created a robot effigy of the Chief that will speak to the public at the press conference.
Sure. Leave the other things to me. In return, if you don't return safely, I won't forgive you. (?)
I see. We must get the real Chief there before the robot so he can explain the danger and clear your name.
(B) The team are sad that they failed to save the General.
Yo!
Well, well, well. If it isn't the old gang in trouble again.
Adam!!
Adam!
Maybe that was unnecessary/over the top. I was watching from behind and just now I got impatient.
I got your message Blaze. Somehow I thought I'd find you here.
Adam, did you find out where the syndicate's hiding place is?
Adam, you must take us to City Hall.
I'm sorry. Not yet.
Why? Where's the Chief of Police?
I see... Please keep on searching. We'll go after the false general...
He was kidnapped by Mr. X. Now he's dead. A robot duplicate of the Chief is due to speak at City Hall.
Understood. Be careful.
Oh no. He could say anything. The city would be at the mercy of Mr. X.

Waiting makes me impatient, Ladies and Gentlemen. Unfortunately, because of you I happened to part with my body. Sorry, please excuse me for my appearance.
Dr. Dahm was the key to my plan. Now that you've destroyed my robot factory, the city will pay for your meddling, big time.
Mister X! Your scheme ends here!
Mr. X! Don't you ever give up? You're helpless. Surrender.
Ha ha ha. You're too late. (???) The human-template robots who were piling up Rakushin have been made to scatter it in Lima and it's neighbouring countries. You understand what that means, don't you? If you make me detonate that, you won't be able to avoid war! From now on I will show you! A-ha-ha-ha!
That's where you're wrong, handsome one. My loyal followers in the Syndicate have planted bombs throughout the city primed to detonate within the hour. Even you will not be able to stop mass destruction.
There's three minutes until the Rakushin will explode! If we destroy his core before that it should stop!
Face it, Mr. X. Dr. Dahm is no longer with you. Do you expect to run the city from a glass phial?
Haha! You think you can do that?
Yes, traitor. Let me show you how.

... and finally, one important announcement for all of you. We have a plan to carry out military sanctions (punishments?) on the various countries in Lima that we're now in a dispute with. This was agreed on at our last meeting...
...and to sum up, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to detail my plans for the enforcement of law and order in the city.
This speech will stop immediately. That general is an imposter!
Stop! The speaker is not the Chief of Police. He is an impostor. A clever imitation.
Ah, what are you saying! You there! Get them out of here quickly!
What is this intrusion! What are you trying to say?
Not giving up, huh? (?) The general is kept at the police.
I have a tape showing the real Chief of Police. Dead!
General Petrov throws away his disguise and is revealed to be Shiva.
Ha ha ha. If I'm exposed I guess there's no other way. Axel and you all, let's truly settle it this time! (?)
Okay. So you've exposed me. Now prepare for law enforcement, Syndicate-style!

Shit! Didn't we make it in time?
We didn't manage to defeat him in time.
Escape quickly from here and stop the war!
It's possible Adam found and defused the bombs.
Yeah!
But he didn't know where they were, Axel.
(error sounds?) What a... degradation. (? I'll make you...) You too... (? road something)
You may have defeated me, but I won't die alone! Sadly, you will not witness the result of my efforts.
Note: The remaining text is almost identical to the successful ending (see below), but Axel says some of Zan's lines.
Thanks to Axel and his friends' work, a full-scale war could be avoided. But, the victims (sacrifices?) caused by the Rakushin left big scars... The Syndicate's headquarters and robot factory were destroyed in the explosion and the team managed to escape in Adam's helicopter.
But Mr. X succeeded in leaving his mark on the city.
The destructive force of the bomb explosions killed many people and wrecked many buildings.
It will take a very long time to repair the damage caused to the fabric of the city and the confidence of those citizens who trusted the forces of good to look after them.

Losing... consciousness...
I'm dying. Please help me.
Phew. We were in time.
Are you kidding?
(error sounds?) You won't get out of here!
Well if I die, you die. Good-bye.
Everybody, quickly escape! This base is soon going to blow up!
This guy never gives up. Let's get out of here.
(This is spoken by Blaze in Bare Knuckle III and by Skate in Streets of Rage 3)

Axel! It's no use! None of the doors will open!

This place is going to blow up.
Blaze! Check that terminal over there! Release the lock for the doors!
He has activated the self destruct sequence. We must hurry or we will die.
I understand! I'll try! It's no use. The protection is too strong!
I can't find a way out- all the doors are locked. Axel. Skate. Zan. What are we going to do?
Aaaah! We don' t have any more time!!
Gulp. I think we've had it.
How slow you are, Sammy! (?) The false general has already been captured.
Hey, little brother. You don't think I'd let you die, do you?
Big brother!
Adam. Are we glad to see you. Get us out of here, fast.
As for the tragedy caused by Rakushin which was born between wisdom and ignorance,
the tomb has been closed.
And together with the noise of the city, this event has been erased from the minds of people.

(? highly poetical maybe)

The Syndicate's headquarters and robot factory were destroyed in the explosion.
Using Adam's police helicopter, the team managed to locate and defuse all the bombs planted by Mr. X.
Dr. Dahm informed the police of all the city officials who had been kidnapped whereupon their robot duplicates were destroyed and the real officials returned to their posts.
Dr. Dahm was placed in an asylum where he is said to be doing well.
Dr. Zan was pardoned by the city for his role in the overthrow of the Syndicate.
The team spent some time together in the city and then went their separate ways.

Now, you liar! (?) Tell me where the syndicate's hideout is! Aaargh! (? angry scream)
You've been defeated, you worm. Now tell us where to find the real Mr. X.
(??? maybe: Who is going to tell you!) Ungh!...
I will never tell you.
Mr. X, are you listening? Whatever you are doing I will crush your plan completely! Completely!
Mr. X! Listen to me, wherever you are. I will not allow your sick and evil mind to rule the city. I will find you and I will destroy you.