Fatal Fury Image Album
Fatal Fury Image Album
July 21, 1993
Buy Used Copy
1991’s Fatal Fury (aka Garou Densetsu) established SNK’s dominance in the arcade fighting game market with its stellar gameplay and rich cast. Inspired by the popularity of the game, producer Yoshihiro Ohno and record label Pony Canyon soon developed both an original score and arranged album release for the title. This publishing approach proved so successful that practically all subsequent instalments of the Fatal Fury, King of Fighters, and Samurai Shodown series have received both an original and arranged album release. Let’s take a closer look at the original game’s arranged album…
As its name implies, the Fatal Fury Image Album is deeply inspired by the scenario and characters of the game. The album allows gamers to revisit their in-game journey, as it develops from the title theme towards the ending theme in a similar order to the original score. The majority of the arrangements are dedicated to character themes, which preserve the melodies and personalities of the originals in a nostalgic manner. Relieved from technological and contextual limitations, all these interpretations nevertheless greatly enhance the originals in terms of both synthesis and development. Both programmatic and encompassing, the Fatal Fury Image Album therefore provides a suitable alternative to the original score, for those feeling nostalgic yet looking for something more.
Following a short introduction, the album gets going with “The Sea Knows”, based on “Michael Max’s Theme”. Like the original version, this arrangement defines SNK’s distinctive sound with its 80s anthemic rock influence. The track is punctuated by thrashing guitar riffs throughout, but still remains bubbly thanks to the focus on light-hearted retro-influenced melodies. The arrangement is a vast improvement on the original, given the four man band are able to express more emotion to each phrase than synth ever could, and the various elaborations and solos are entertaining despite their typical nature. Like most of the album, the melody isn’t that memorable and the implementation sounds quite dated, so it’s unlikely to particularly impress those who didn’t play the game. However, the arrangement is faithful to the character and gameplay of the original, plus a fun stand-alone listen too.
This image album certainly reflects the diversity of the cast of Fatal Fury. The interpretations range from the laid-back and frivolous jazz improvisations of “The Hooligan of Downtown” (aka “Duck King’s Theme”), to the darker and conflicted riffs of “Brave Raiden” to represent one of the final opponents. The centre of the soundtrack also reflects the cultural diversity of the characters, with distinctive instrumentation and polyrhythms to portray the respective origins of Hwa Jai and Richard Meyer, and pentatonic scales to represent martial arts master Tung Fu Rue. These tracks remain faithful to the ideas of the original, but take them much further with improved synthesis and greater experimentation. As these tracks are among the less melodic on the score, their creative stylings are their main virtue and the arranged versions are certainly the definitive ones.
Perhaps the most impressive track on the entire album is the final boss theme “Kiss for Geese”. Yasuo Yamate transforms the technologically hindered original into an impressive display of cutting-edge mainstream sounds. In contrast to the cookie-cutter riffs of “The Sea Knows”, the guitar riffs here are far more aggressive and ambitious this time. They’re beautifully synchronised with rapid electronic beats, synth orchestral hits, and even some hip-hop voice samples, to create an ever-changing wall of sound. However, there is still a distinctive video game influence exuded by the exuberant melodies and 8-bit interlude around 1:41. Such a track is rare on the album and the final two additions, based on the two-player and ending themes, soon restore the fitting but somewhat mind-numbing light rock sound prevalent in the original score.
The arranged album of Fatal Fury captures the melodies, personalities, and diversity of the original game and score with its most faithful renditions. However, many of the tracks greatly expand on the originals to offer fuller forms, richer (if still partly synthesised) timbres, and greater stylistic substance. The album will be most enjoyable for those who played the game that are looking to revisit the characters and their themes. Its wider impact is reduced due to its dated stylings and slightly weak melodies, though the album is still potentially a decent listen. Above all, this image album provides a fitting expansion of the original game and score.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on August 1, 2012.