Game Music, Reviews

You Must Defeat (Sheng) Long Game Titles To Stand A Chance: Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix OST (Review)

January 30, 2009 | | 3 Comments Share thison Facebook You Must Defeat (Sheng) Long Game Titles To Stand A Chance: Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix OST (Review)on Twitter

This review started as a part of the “behind the scenes” post I wrote last month, but the article was beginning to get so massive that it threatened to collapse under its own weight and form a black hole of text, sucking the rest of the site into itself. Fortunately we realized this before it was too late and split the review into a separate post, averting certain disaster. Now you can safely read the monster that almost annihilated OSV, after the jump.

To recap for those of you who haven’t felt the touch of a computer in a while, Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix is a remake of Super Street Fighter II Turbo by Capcom and Backbone Entertainment, featuring updated high-definition art by the UDON team, re-balanced gameplay, and of course the first ever official soundtrack arranged entirely by fans, courtesy of OverClocked ReMix. The game can be purchased on both Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Store, and the soundtrack has been made available completely free for download in both MP3 and lossless FLAC on the OverClocked ReMix website.

Coming in at 66 tracks, the tracklist is a bit too long to list here, but you can see the whole shebang and download individual MP3s here.

The original concept behind Blood on the Asphalt, the project that spawned HD Remix, was to create arrangements with an urban feel and truly evoke “street fighter” imagery, so it’s no surprise that many of the tracks are rocked out or fast-paced electronic versions of the originals. The moment you hear the dirty bass and grungy guitars in Jivemaster’s “Rock the Asphalt,” you know the soundtrack will have no shortage of blood-pumping, head-bashing tunes, such as AE and Prozax’s Pendulum-esque “Clamato Fever,” zircon’s electronica epic “Flying Heaven,” and of course the patriotic rock anthems “Made in U.S.A.” and “Combat and Service.”

Like the original soundtrack though, there is plenty of diversity to spare, as not all of the stages call for a musical adrenaline kick. A perfect example is “Dosu-koi,” OCR owner djpretzel’s subdued take on E. Honda’s theme — the track is actually a complete reworking of his original draft which was, in his own words, “slapped down” by Capcom because it was too aggressive in the context of a stage set in a bathhouse (he did eventually revisit his draft later on though, posting his fully-realized vision on OverClocked ReMix as “High Five…Hundred”).

OCR judge Big Giant Circles found himself in a similar situation when his electronic Zangief arrangement was passed over in favor of the less-polished sound of “Red Cyclone,” which Capcom decided fit the underground scenery of Zangief’s stage better. Like djpretzel, he too finished his track regardless and sent it to OCR, conveying his disappointment through the ReMix title — “Fiddlesticks.” Even if you disagree with Capcom’s choice though, you should still check out the ridiculously catchy vocal version of “Red Cyclone” later released by The Grammar Club, featuring nerdcore artist Beefy.

The Eastern-flavored “Dosu-koi” and garage-rock “Red Cyclone” are just a couple examples of the many genres you’ll find in HD Remix. The styles represented in the soundtrack range from Spaghetti Western and ethnic Indian (“New Mexican Thunderbird” and “Reaching for Nirudha,” respectively), to reggaeton and lounge dance groove (“Thank You, Dee Jay” and “Sexy Trunks”). This variety, in my mind, is a testament to how collaborating with a community of fans can result in a very diverse yet high-quality product, something that would have been more difficult and time-consuming to accomplish with a single composer.

One of the most noticeable changes in the HD Remix soundtrack is the replacement of all the vocal tracks from Blood on the Asphalt with instrumental versions. The affected tracks include Vurez’s “New Mexican Thunderbird,” Shael Riley’s “Blood on the Asphalt,” and José the Bronx Rican’s “Spittin’ Narcissism” and “Thank You, Dee Jay.” The decision to remove the vocals is understandable, as they could potentially be a distraction to gamers, but the instrumentals still hold up well on their own. The new “Spittin’ Narcissism” even features an intimate Spanish guitar lead, which adds a lot to the Spanish feel of the track. And if nothing else, providing your own “vocals” whenever you play against someone on one of the appropriate stages is a surefire method of destroying their concentration and ensuring your victory.

Another aspect of the HD Remix soundtrack that listeners won’t remember from Blood on the Asphalt is the new “Heavy Damage” iterations of the stage themes. While most of most of these are just brief sped-up and modulated loops of certain sections of their corresponding tracks, some remixers went the extra mile with their contributions. Tracks such as “Docks Day HD” and “Sexy Trunks HD” actually have significant changes in their arrangement and instrumentation, making them quite viable and listenable tracks in their own right.

Special kudos, though, go to José the Bronx Rican for his impressive work in tying the entire soundtrack together with his arrangements of the character ending themes — as mentioned in the previous HD Remix post, he single-handedly created completely new arrangements of all but three of the endings, two of which were previously covered in Blood on the Asphalt. This is a remarkable feat in that not only did he make sure that the music fit the in-game art, but pulled off quite the chamelon act, in many cases emulating the specific styles of the arrangers of the corresponding character themes. In other words, he did “The Dragon, The Hero” the way zircon himself might have arranged it, “Brand New Mexico” sounds like Vurez, “PTSD” reflects Malcos and Red-Tailed Fox’s collaboration, and so on. He also managed to toss in some fanservice with track titles like “Call Him Dictator,” a nod to how the Street Fighter community refers to M. Bison as “Dictator” to prevent confusion caused by the nameswaps in the English localization.

There are so many gems in this soundtrack that it was hard to pick highlights; be sure to give them all a listen, as I can with all honestly say that every single track is worth your time. If I had to have any complaints, it’s that the album doesn’t follow certain soundtrack conventions — track lengths are inconsistent at times and there isn’t much silence between each track, but honestly these are more nitpicks and minor distractions than actual criticisms. And again, don’t forget to check out the project that started it all, Blood on the Asphalt, for the complete experience.

So what’s your take on this historic occasion? Do you think the new remixes show respect for the old themes, or do feel they retain none of the spirit of the original? Does the soundtrack fit the game like a fighting glove, or does it just seem like a fish out of water?

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