Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition Original Soundtrack
Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition Original Soundtrack
February 14, 2018
Buy at CDJapan
Two years after the release of the original Street Fighter V Original Soundtrack, a lot of new music has been added, thanks in part to the new stages and characters introduced with the various “seasons” of the game. Featuring many returning composers, such as Masahiro Aoki, Keiki Kobayashi, Hideyuki Fukasawa, and Zac Zinger, the Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition Original Soundtrack also features contributions from a variety of surprising names, such as Steven McNair, Ryudai Abe, Riow Arai, Jonne Valtonen, Junya Nakano, and Daniel Lindholm. How does the new music compare to the previous released soundtrack?
The album opens with one of the newcomers’ contributions to the Street Fighter universe. Steven McNair’s “Street Fighter V Arcade Edition -Opening-,” a synthy electronic tune with dance beats and a crystalline piano line, but also rounding it out with more of a cinematic flair. It’s quite exhilarating and certainly gives an idea of what largely to expect from the subsequent music. There is also another tune, “Street Fighter V Arcade Edition” that is similar to the opening version but features more of a rock focus. He also contributes a few other pieces to the soundtrack, such as “Character Select,” a chill electronic tune with a lounge vibe and acoustic elements, providing a nice atmosphere, and “Results,” a heavier electronic tune with dance beats, distortion and grit that are accompanied by soft piano and vocal samples. The end result is quite engaging. Lastly, he provides a remix of “Cammy’s Theme” in “English Manor.” It has a older rock, perhaps 60’s-ish and groovy beats while electric guitar and a bell-like instrument provide the melodic basis over some electronic elements. It’s a wonderful take on the theme itself.
More newcomers to the Street Fighter V soundtrack include ex-Square Enix composer Junya Nakano, who provides two themes, “Temple Hideout -Thailand Stage-” and “Theme of Kolin,” one of the new characters to the franchise. The former is a remix of M. Bison’s theme, or Vega, depending on the region. It is a rock based tune with industrial tones with a lead melody on violin. It’s menacing and tense with lots of rhythm work and bass. While not the best rendition of the theme I’ve heard, it certainly fares a lot better than the actual character’s theme in Street Fighter V. His other tune is absolutely stunning. Opening softly with icy synths and haunting vocals amidst a drum loop, it progresses and with it, adding more rock elements incorporated as it builds. Much like his Final Fantasy work, it has a lot of layers that give it a nice musical texture, although it does seem out of place for a fighting game given its general tameness.
Some single contributions come from Ryudai Abe, who has worked on the Atelier RPG series, Riow Arai, who has worked on Square Enix’s Front Mission series, and Jonne Valtonen, who has previous worked with Capcom as an arranger for Dragon’s Dogma. Abe’s “Theme of Balrog,” or M. Bison in Japan, features dance beats alongside guitar riffs, and a synth melody, giving the overall tune a slightly tense sound. The jazzy piano chords and vocal and choral samples also add to the piece. The end result is super fun. Unfortunately, Riow Arai’s rendition of “Theme of Juri” doesn’t do the original theme much justice. Done in an underground techno style, the powerful main melody is now more subtly incorporated, providing a much more subdued sound. The end result is quite lackluster in comparison. It certainly fits with the character’s design, but the melody feels lost in ambiance. Valtonen’s “Theme of Urien” is a dramatic orchestral interpretation with some light electronic elements. It gives off a powerful aura and ominous choir, with the end result being an enjoyable tune with a villainous flavor.
The other newcomer to contribute to this soundtrack release is Daniel Lindholm, who provides the music for new and old characters alike, but of mixed success. “Theme of Ed” features an excellent backing track consisting of strings, Streets of Rage style beats, piano, and an overall dramatic air. However, while the rap vocals are performed well, the lyrics are a bit silly and give off a bit of an Eight Mile vibe to them. “Theme of Menat” is a rock tune with a classic rock feel to it. Accompanying the guitar is some light synthesizer and strings that helps bring the strong melody to life. It’s one of my favorite new character themes in the game. “Theme of Zeku” is a much jazzier affair with a bit of a 70’s disco flair, particularly in the jazz flute. The melody itself is tons of fun and helps lend this fun to the overall tone of the piece. While it isn’t one of my favorite character themes, the supporting elements, such as bass, strings, and percussion, make for a solid experience, even if the style of the music seems, at least to me, odd for the character’s design. Lindholm is also responsible for a remix of “Theme of Sakura,” a dance tune with a beautiful piano melody of the original while the atmospheric background complements the tune quite well. Lastly, he is also in charge of the various Street Fighter Zero tunes featured as part of the arcade mode with most sporting a big band brass/jazz sound overall.
Of course, most of the original composers for Street Fighter V come back in some capacity. Zac Zinger brings back his jazz aesthetic with two more New York City themes, “Frosty Boulevard -New York Stage-,” and it’s Alternative version. The former is a chill jazz tune with a lounge vibe, giving off a wintery vibe and sporting a fantastic melody that’s supported with some big band stylings at times. The other tune is a bit groovier with saxophone taking center stage and features some excellent brass harmonies and bass. There is certainly a bit of a new age-y sound to it, but isn’t too much to be off-putting. Keiki Kobayashi brings his talents to a new stage theme and three character themes. “Kanzuki Beach -Malaysia Stage-” is synthy and jazzy with a big band aesthetic, giving it a groovy atmosphere alongside its catchy. The instrumentation featured are similar to Karin Kanzuki’s theme and help tie the two together. The Alternative version is similarly groovy with the main melody executed through mallet percussion, giving it a softer sound and an equally excellent outcome. As for the character themes, “Theme of Alex” keeps with the groove and jazz and would absolute fit into a game like Persona 5 and does justice to his original rendition. The rock portions in the B section are also nicely done and add to the overall arrangement. True to the original, but with a more modern take, is Kobayashi’s “Theme of Blanka,” combining a tropical aesthetic with gritty guitar distortion and some fantastic bass guitar and drum rhythms. It is, hands down, one of my favorite returning characters’ renditions throughout the entire series. Lastly, “Theme of Falke” is a chill piano and electronic tune that has trance and dub elements with a beautiful atmosphere and some nice dance beats as well. The end result is another fantastic tune that really shines.
Street Fighter IV’s Hideyuki Fukasawa once again dons a more major role, providing a plethora of stage themes to this recent release. “High Roller Casino -Las Vegas Stage-” is a remix of the original Street Fighter II stage in which Balrog (or M. Bison in Japan) theme is originally presented. This version is similar in style to his Street Fighter IV rendition, but certainly more enjoyable, perhaps due to the lack of heavily processed vocoder or the general blend of bright synths and rock elements. The end result is totally danceable and invigorating and while there are vocal samples used, there are used much more sparingly and serve as accompaniment, not the main dish. Things fall by the wayside, unfortunately, in “Spooky Arena -Russia Stage-,” which share similar sounds and instruments to Street Fighter IV‘s “Snowy Rail Yard -Russia-,” providing at least some consistency between titles .The tempo, set by dubstep elements, is quite nice for a first round theme, but suffers substantially due to the incessant “Take This Higher,” samples that certainly overstay their welcome making the end result a fantastic track marred by needless additions. The Alternative version is certainly much improved. The tempo, fittingly for a final round, is incrased and while there are still vocal samples, done via vocoder, they aren’t nearly as intrusive as it sounds more like a synth element to the track rather than something is clearly at odds with the music. In addition, spooky sounding synths are more prevalent in this version, fitting well with the Halloween aesthetic of the stage itself.
Another excellent tune is “Skies of Honor -UAE Stage-” that utilizes similar instrumentation to Fukasawa’s “Rashid’s Theme,” providing for a gritty rock/electronic tune with some slick drum rhythms, a slower tempo that gives it a dramatic flair, and some dubstep elements that aren’t over the top. The Alternative version keeps with the same instrumentation but opts for a more rock and drum n’ bass elements and a faster tempo. The end result is somewhat lackluster compared to the first round’s version and the vocal samples, much like “Spooky Arena” become tiresome after their constant use. Fortunately, Fukasawa’s last set of stage themes certainly rebound to a more positive note. “Temple of Ascension -Japan Stage-” blends a bevy of Japanese instruments atop distorted electronic beats with a slower tempo that helps build a dramatic atmosphere. The main melody itself is absolutely beautiful and really helps gives it a traditional Japanese soundscape mixed with the more modern elements in the accompaniment. The Alternative version keeps the general aesthetic alive, but adds some strings and ups the tempo. The end result is just as enjoyable, if not more so, than the first version. He is also responsible for “Theme of Gouki” (Akuma in Western markets), which keeps similar ideas for “Temple of Ascension,” combining shakuhachi with dubstep elements. In addition, it is reminiscent of his Street Fighter IV rendition, but certainly much more organic. However, while the melody itself is wonderful, the accompaniment itself does feel a bit muddy at times. Lastly, Fukasawa is also responsible for the Street Fighter and Street Fighter III sounds related to arcade mode. The Street Fighter tunes generally have a retro feel to them, due to the synth used mixed with modern electronic elements while Street Fighter III related music opts for a jazz/R&B aesthetic mixed with modern elecronic elements that fits the style of the actual game quite well.
Last, but not least, is Masahiro Aoki, who provides his talents once more for a variety of stage and character themes, with some mixed results, but generally trending on the more positive. The “Main Menu” theme is a blend of acoustic and electric guitars, with a djent sound that provides an interesting contrast to the slower melody and the fast paced accompaniment. The classic stages revisited in Street Fighter V by Aoki showcase the original stages where “Guile’s Theme,” “Vega’s Theme” (or Balrog in Japan), “Ryu’s Theme,” and “Sakura’s Theme.” “Air Force Base -USA Stage-” takes a rather faithful rock approach to the iconic tune, although it does have a nice new bridge that complements the original melody and helps bring a fresh take before the loop. “Flamenco Tavern -Spain Stage-” is flamenco guitar dominated, although it does share a spotlight with some muted electric guitar that provides an excellent counter melody. It’s a no frills arrangement, but very enjoyable. “Suzaku Castle -Japan Stage-” features a traditional Japanese instrument set with orchestral backing. Taiko, flute, strings, and electric guitar come together to give a valorous and dramatic interpretation. Lastly, “Kasugano Residence -Japan Stage-” take Sakura’s theme and provides a vibrant and fun tune with bright synths, light guitar elements, and as the tune progresses, incorporates more rock.
Aoki is also responsible for a variety of new stage themes. “Ring of Destiny -Ring Stage-” takes a similar soundscape to “Main Menu” but adds on even more djent sound that helps support a fantastic melody. The Alternative version doubles down on the djent, is heavier in nature, but features a stronger focus on melody with some heavy metal aspects as well. It’s as equally enjoyable as the normal version. Another ring stage is “Ring of Pride -Ring Stage-” features a blend of Japanese instrumentation and guitar riffs, providing a more subdued approach with lighter tones. It’s a soft piece, yet feels heavy, with beautiful ethereal sounds incorporated behind an electric guitar focus. It uses the same melody as “Ring of Destiny” so there is a nice connection there. The Alternative version, much like the other ring stage, is heavier in approach, with more powerful guitar riffs. While the softer soundscape is still present, it has a more determined sound to it. “Metro City Bay Area -USA Stage-” features an 80s rock sound with some groovy elements that give it a nice textural contrast. The tune itself is decent and well made, but it doesn’t leave as lasting an impression. The Alternative version is much better, in my opinion. Groovy rock with a prog-ish influence gives the tune a much more engaging and dynamic feel.
Aoki’s character themes are where things are more of a mixed bag. “Theme of Guile” is a jazzy rock tune with smooth jams. It’s a super fun take on the ironic tune and I love how he manipulates the main melody by giving it his own spin, but still recognizable. The solos themselves are very noodling in their execution, but still feel very structured. His “Theme of Ibuki” remix combines Japanese instruments with upbeat rock. It’s a fun, enjoyable piece with some acoustic elements that help elevate it a bit more, but I wouldn’t say it’s his strongest effort in revamping a classic Street Fighter tune. Where things fall a bit more apart is with “Theme of Abigail.” It’s a heavy metal tune, through and through, with death metal vocals that certainly fit the character’s design and background, but are absolutely jarring and make for a less than pleasurable listening experience. It’s an excellent concept, but one that is sure to split opinions.
The “Credit Title of Street Fighter V Arcade Edition,” much like the other menu driven tunes is a rock approach. This one is certainly incorporates softer sounds, yet is not quite a ballad. Unfortunately, it does drone on a bit and while there is a melody present, it is not the focus on the tune itself. Aoki is also responsible for the shorter tunes associated with the arcade version with his focus being on Street Fighter II, Street Fighter IV, and Street Fighter V. The former takes a rock approach, but nothing is particularly meaty or stands out. The Street Fighter IV and V tunes all take a rock approach as well, but the “Ending” theme for Street Fighter IV incorporates some synths that gives it more of a soundscape for that game, but with an Aoki twist. All in all, these are nice additions, but aren’t the bread and butter of the soundtrack.
There is plenty of new music to enjoy in the Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition Original Soundtrack. With lots of returning characters and classic stages, there are a ton of opportunities for a nostalgia fix with generally well remixed tunes. With this many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak, the quality is a bit all over the place, but for those who enjoy a blend of rock, electronic, jazz, and orchestral music, in a variety of styles, and enjoyed the first soundtrack release will certainly find more to like than to dislike.
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Posted on August 9, 2018 by Don Kotowski. Last modified on August 9, 2018.