Fatal Fury 3
Fatal Fury 3
April 21, 1995
Buy Used Copy
In an age saturated with fighting games, 1995’s Fatal Fury 3 didn’t quite stand up against the competition. It did still improve substantially on its predecessor in a number of ways, including its musical score. Under the lead of Toshio Shimizu, an ensemble team offered fresh depictions of the new and returning characters. The soundtrack for the Arcade game was released by Pony Canyon shortly after the game and largely satisfied consumers. However, soon enough it was made obsolete by the Fatal Fury Real Bout release…
After their hit-and-miss approaches on previous titles, SNK’s sound team demonstrate they are more comfortable with their sound throughout Fatal Fury 3. The theme for returning hero Terry Bogard, for instance, is a fantastic hybrid of the company’s jazz and rock styles. The exuberant horn melodies capture his free spirit, while the thrashing rock riffs bring energy to his fights. It’s so much better than his rip-off theme from the previous game. Appropriately, the theme for newcomer Franco Bash has more weight with its chugging guitar riffs and dabs of electronic distortion. Yet it also has a delightful old-school vibe through its 80s-styled melodies and elaborate keyboard work. It’s clear that composer Masahiko Hataya made the most of the Neo Geo’s sound board while producing this one. Hon Fu is also accompanied by a solid rock anthem featuring a catchy pentatonic melody. Unsurprisingly, it’s gone on to become something of a fan favourite.
That said, there are still plenty of diversity in this release. “Taku Hatsu” and “Taste of Crocodile” both blend traditional instruments with contemporary elements to very different effects — the former melodic and warm, the latter rhythmic and eccentric. They fit the respective characters, with Joe Higashi being portrayed more goofy with each Fatal Fury game. Another welcome returnee, Mai Shiranui’s theme sounds exotic and alluring with its blend of koto, piano, and harp. It’s a surprising addition for a fighting game, but creates the desired surreal effect in context. Its interpretation on the game’s arranged album is even more elaborate. Another obvious highlight is “Taste of Honey”, which blends hyper-catchy funk riffs with exotic instruments and tribal chants. What a great fit for jungle boy Bob Wilson!
Several tracks on the album explore a grittier sound. Blue Mary’s “Kiss Me” is an excellent example; blending jazzy piano lines with moody synth accompaniment, it is the perfect portrayal of the secret agent. Less impressive is Andy Bogard’s “Thunder Surge”, which was inspired in concept but sloppy in execution. It suits his American background and the urbanised gameplay well, but isn’t as catchy or endearing as his original portrayal. It’s also one of the few tracks that seems limited by its synth. Boss character Geese Howard’s two tracks are back in more familiar territory with their rock emphasis, but once again raise the bar for the series both compositionally and technologically. “Kissed By Geese”, a direct arrangement of his Fatal Fury theme, sounds especially good in this rendition.
Inspired by Fatal Fury 2, the final boss Jin Chonrei takes an orchestral approach; but rather than destroy Mozart, SNK’s Macky this time offered two original compositions that set the scene beautifully. Like most fighting soundtacks, the album doesn’t have much to offer beyond the stage tracks. There are the usual light jazz improvisations for the character selects, bass-driven rock tracks for the versus screens, and a few pre-boss entrance themes. Following the precedent of Fatal Fury 2, the ending theme “The Sunset Sky Part V” is a soft jazzy soundscape; it’s a fine way to inspire nostalgia whilewrapping up the characters’ stories. The release closes with a series of voice collections and sound effects collections. Unlike some soundtrack releases for the series, ther eare no arranged tracks here.
Fatal Fury 3 is a clear improvement on its predecessors in every way. SNK capture the characters’ individuality and the fighting gameplay throughout the release, while asserting the distinctive sound they have developed since Fatal Fury. The themes for Bob, Mary, Jin, and Geese are particular stand-outs — both creative and memorable. That said, collectors should keep in mind that the soundtrack release for the expanded game Fatal Fury Real Bout features all these themes plus some extras. It is therefore best to skip this release in favour of its successor. But either way, these themes are recommended listens for fighting game soundtrack enthusiasts.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.