Game Music, Reviews

Street Fighter IV Soundtrack [Japanese Version] (Review)

August 8, 2009 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Street Fighter IV Soundtrack [Japanese Version] (Review)on Twitter

One of the coolest games released this year has to be Street Fighter IV. Capcom has really outdone themselves on this game, making the gameplay and graphics extremely over the top and fun. As a quite big Street Fighter fan I have to say SFIV really lived up to the name and was absolutely worth the (quite extensive) wait. Even the choice to go 3D worked out, as the backgrounds are absolutely bustling with all kinds of activity (and they even react to the fight, in various hilarious ways).

So what of the music? The Street Fighter franchise is nothing if not marked by some of Capcom’s most recognizable themes. For Street Figher IV, Capcom went with the relative newcomer Hideyuki ‘eicheph’ Fukasawa. He’s impressed with the soundtrack of Chaos Legion, but will he be able to live up to the expectations of a Street Fighter soundtrack?

Find out after the jump!

Well, to put it mildly, this soundtrack kicks ass. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. The first song on the album is a controversial one, and it’s the only one not composed by eicheph. It’s the “opening” track of the game, by Japanese boy band EXILE. Now, I’m fairly familiar with Jpop, and when I heard that EXILE was doing a song for the game, I despaired. Honestly, I can’t think of any EXILE song that I like. But wow, was I ever wrong! “THE NEXT DOOR” may be by the Japanese equivalent of the Backstreet Boys, but it sure is a catchy, badass theme.

From that track on, the first disc of the soundtrack goes right into it, starting with the new original tracks by eicheph. These tracks are extremely badass. If compared to the styles of previous Street Fighter games, this is certainly a new direction, very techno, with some dramatic elements (heavy strings and choir sounds). I absolutely love the direction chosen for the music in this game, it’s so badass! For me a standout track is track 8: “Cruise Ship Stern Stage -Europe-“, with its crazy leads and thumping drum track. The two versions of the “Secret Laboratory Stage” are also awesome, although since I had to fight the very cheap and annoying Seth over and over with that music in the background, I am a bit sick of hearing it purely by association. The brass, choir and tom fills sure makes the tracks epic though. Finally, “Training Stage” is such a badass track that I can’t believe they put it on the training stage. It’s truly deserving of a place within the main game in my opinion.

The second disc opens with the English version of EXILE’s song, which is sung by EXILE and (despite somewhat Engrish-y lyrics) is still a great song. Somewhat superfluous since the Japanese version is already on there, perhaps.

After that, Hideyuki Fukasawa gets to do for money what many of us fan mixers do for free: remix the classic themes from Street Fighter into modern reincarnations. Inevitably, I must compare the older versions to his interpretation. Of course the classic versions of the themes were very poppy, carrying a strong late-80s vibe. It’s got some of the most memorable melodies ever, which have been mixed to hell and back in the various incarnations of Street Fighter. I particularly love the work done for Street Fighter Alpha and Alpha 2, which had an extremely catchy and cool vibe. So how does eicheph’s work measure up?

Well, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that these are the best versions of the various songs ever, but they are a fresh take on the material, and they fit with the game and other, new material extremely well. Some of the themes even get several different make-overs, such as Ryu’s legendary theme, which comes back no less than three times, with very different feelings to them. When you play as Sakura to face Ryu as your rival, the track is upbeat and cheerful. But when you fight Gouki (Akuma) or Gouken, the track morphs into a dark and brooding version of itself. This is a great reflection of the feelings of these fights, and really shows that eicheph was involved when he made these tracks.

Some of the new characters get some really kick ass new themes as well, especially the awesome character C. Viper. “Theme of C. Viper” is a hyperactive epic drum’n’bass track, a real joy. Rufus has some kick ass solo work going for it, while El Fuerte’s track has a fun Mexican vibe. The only new track I wasn’t crazy about was Abel’s, but then I didn’t care much for the character either. It’s still a solid track but it doesn’t stand out like the other new tracks.

An interesting bonus on this soundtrack is the “Street Fighter IV -Orchestra ver.-“, which I don’t think is in the game anywhere. It’s quite beautiful, and gives a warm farewell to this hyper-charged album.

All in all, I think the soundtrack is absolutely worth the money (as is the game), and Sumthing Else even put out a domestic version of the soundtrack. I think eicheph measured up to the brand beautifully, and can look upon his work with pride. I certainly love it. You can pick up the Japanese version at both CD Japan and Play Asia.

Did you like the soundtrack for Street Fighter IV?  Are you looking forward to Fukusawa’s work in the future?

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