Sunday 22 February 2015

Video Game Music: Street Fighter IV

The cover of Super Street Fighter IV: Arcade Edition - the one I have. It is superceded by Ultra Street Fighter IV.

Street Fighter has been with me since I was a kid. My earliest memory was of my dad taking me to the "penny arcade" where I would watch other older kids, or adults, play various versions of the franchise on the joystick pad. To this day, the use of super powers and special moves never ceases to amaze me.

Obtained from here.
Zangief v Ryu never gets old

In particular, the fact that each fighter has their own unique fighting ability - and must often adapt to the style of the opposition - is quite unique. I especially enjoy watching players use their super powers to great effect in close contests (or where someone is coming back from behind to win).

Being a cult fighting game, the music of Street Fighter has its history and many of the theme songs are steeped in modern antiquity - much of the character's themes in Street Fighter IV, for example, are reused themes that have been polished or recycled from older editions of the theme.

I will endeavour to list my favourite Street Fighter IV [including Super Street Fighter: Arcade Edition] music below, and give a brief description of them where I can.

Please bear in mind that I do NOT condone, endorse or support any of the comments, links to other videos or YouTube channels from the videos hyperlinked on this page or on any page of my site.

I only link these videos for convenience so that you can find the music - I do not enjoy the rubbish put up by certain other people (in particular offensive comments or hate speech etc) and I also do NOT support the bootlegging or copyright infringement of any music.

Favourite Music 
(Ranked List, click on the hyperlinks to listen to the music):

1) Training Stage: By far the best song in Street Fighter IV.

This theme has a great "elite" feel to it, in the sense that it gives everyone the false impression/fantasy that they have a fighting chance of beating the world's best. It is difficult to put this theme into words.

It is almost like the music encapsulates a mesmerising warm up match between two pros who can't wait to show off their skills to one another, and the climax just keeps building as they showcase an increasing amount of unbelievable moves and "special weapons".

Viper taking on Blanka in the Training Stage level.

The best part definitely comes at 1:40 where the music goes up a notch - the best way I can put it is by repeating what one YouTube comment said: "the song of the top level Street Fighter players".

2) Super Street Fighter IV: Main Menu Screen Type B: What an opening. I believe this theme comes out after you exit arcade/training/versus mode to come back to the menu. It has this awesome build up at the beginning (a rhythm/beat that repeats all the way through) that makes you feel like you are on the verge of participating in the fight of your life. Riveting stuff.

3) Guile's Theme: This theme needs no introduction as it has even achieved cult meme status. When you hear it, you do feel like you can achieve anything with this music blasting away in the background - no matter how much the odds are stacked against you. Electric/synth guitar coupled with rock beats gives this classic theme the kick and passion it deserves.

4) Zangief's Theme: A smooth jazz-like rendition of Zangief's theme, with buzzy beats, bass notes and highs that seem totally at odds with the menacing figure of Zangief. I really like this jovial theme and particularly like the way the theme builds around the upbeat and melodic chorus. It probably reflects Zangief's fighting style of constantly using "footsies" and jumps to dodge projectiles, and eventually slowly creeping up on the opponent to deal massive punishment (as represented by the chorus).

5) Festival at the Old Temple: A mix of oriental, almost frantic, fiddling coupled with a modern beat creates a superb melody. Consequently, this is my favourite stage, after Training Stage, to battle to (with Snow Rail Yard coming after this stage)! It makes for great environmental music in the context of the hustle and bustle of the filled streets and market stalls  seen in the background. 
By the way, the above video is one of my favourite battles to watch, a great matchup between arguably the best Dhalsim in Japan and a good Abel player. The festival theme also enhances the excitement =)

Zangief v Zangief at Snowy Rail Yard - taken from here.

6) Snowy Rail Yard (Russia) Theme: The dance-beat intertwined with the Russian folk melody makes for a very cool theme that gives Zangief the homeground advantage he deserves. Not quite as inspirational as Guile's theme though, but very cool. The theme makes playing this level quite fun - but I still like Festival at the Old Temple better.

7) Dhalsim's Theme: The serenity and peacefulness of Oriental India is brought to the foreground in this piece. There is sense of mystery about this theme, though it is not in the dark sense - to the contrary the music is very bright and majestic, almost as if it is hinting at Dhalsim's jaw-dropping fighting ability.

Supposedly that's Bruce Lee on the right, with Fei Long in his alternate costume on the left.

8) Fei Long's Theme: There is almost a sense of tragedy embedded within or underlying this theme. And it makes sense. Because the character Fei Long is actually a tribute to the great martial artist Bruce Lee. Hence while the music does make you feel pumped up and ready for a desperate challenge, there is this undertone of great loss and sorrow. A fitting tribute for a famous martial artist.

9) Balrog's Theme: The phrase I am thinking of is "Scat singing" although this may not be the best way to describe the verballing going on here. The music itself provides a nice disco rhythm, but it feels too strange to be Balrog's theme. This theme gives Balrog a bit of swagger, style and rhythm whereas Balrog to me feels like more of a ruffian and gangster who just enjoys punching people up. When I play Street Fighter, I tend to use Balrog or Deejay as I find it easiest controlling them.

Notable Music:

I don't own a copy of Ultra Street Fighter IV (I may well do in the near future) but one nifty theme I'd like to point out in that latest edition is the Mad Gear Hideout Stage which I am told is also played in Street Fighter x Tekken. It sounds like a frantic temple scramble.


Andre Lim

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