Street Fighter Tribute Album
Street Fighter Tribute Album
December 17, 2003
Buy at CDJapan
Street Fighter II is easily the most popular fighting game of all time. Imagine my surprise when learning the majority of the music was composed by Yoko Shimomura, who has become quite popular at Square, which led me to her discovery in the first place. Eleven years after the Street Fighter II score was created, Shimomura herself took up the task of creating a tribute album while choosing eleven legends of game music to provide the arrangements. She knew exactly who she was dealing with because all arrangers created the perfect arrangements for such a tribute. Let’s look at these one by one.
The album is opened with the iconic theme for Ryu, sung by Takenobu Mitsuyoshi in the zaniest Engrish ever heard. The lyrics are very hard to make out on this arrangement, but they make an interesting impression, as Mitsuyoshi mixes his vocals with guitars and Asian percussion instruments. In contrast, Hiroaki “Maro” Yoshida’s arrangement of Ken’s theme is straightforward. With a hard rock spirit, Yoshida showcases his mastery of the electric guitar with his interpretation of the melody and some improvisation for good measure.
Original composer Yoko Shimomura herself joins in the fun and arranges the most mystical theme of them all, for Dhalsim. Starting off with a female choir, it soon develops to include some Indian percussion use, some flute melodies, and some string samples, which all give an ethereal feel. The rhythm speeds up a little halfway through but the melody remains the same. It offers a new perspective on a classic theme. Ayako Saso shows influences from her Street Fighter EX works when arranging Chun-Li’s theme. She successfully mixes various forces, using the character’s voice and a techno beat for rhythmical effect, while some powerful guitar improvisation and the original’s oriental melody shines above. The synth solo halfway through is easily the best feature on this arrangement.
Among other highlights, Motoaki Furukawa takes a slightly laid-back approach on “Guile Stage” with his guitar and presents his usual fusion style. The melody may be slower than others, but it still has a feel of excitement and fighting spirit as it progresses. Koji Hayama also carries some of his traits from the Cho Aniki series with his E. Honda arrangement. The first one is the ability of mixing vocal effects and making them work with the melody. The arrangement’s other definitive feature is its particular guitar sound, which even a slightly familiar fan of his works would recognize instantly. The guitar, shamisen, and backbeats blend perfectly as this oriental theme displays the might of E. Honda. This is certainly another favorite of mine.
With “Blanka Stage”, Yasunori Mitsuda provides what I believe is his most disappointing arrangement thus far. Being done with a slight electronica flavour, the theme mostly comprises of percussion instruments and a backbeat, which just doesn’t do anything for me. The electric guitar solo halfway just does not overwhelm me at all. The contribution by Mega Man‘s Manami Matsumae is also unremarkable. It’s a decent techno arrangement with a slight jazz flavour as brass comes in on some occasions. Unfortunately, I don’t see anything that really makes this one stand out from the rest.
Moving to the Four Devas, Yuzo Koshiro debuts his trance style to convey the boxer Balrog. Opening with some sound effects of a player losing, the bell announces the first major section of the track, in which fast turntable effects leads the theme into a classy trance arrangement. The beat is steady and the electronic melody used really gets one into a trance. The second half has a more decisive air to it, as if to convey a ‘It’s win or lose!!’ feel. Yasuhisa “Yack” Watanabe is given the chance to convey the Spanish character Vega. In a clever choice of instruments, the Spanish guitar and accordion take the meat of the melody as some beats act as backing. While this may be the most relaxing arrangement thus far, Yack shows that he can switch a theme with any instrument and make it sound great. I think it’s another winnr.
Moving to Sagat, Takayuki Aihara brings us a a jazz-inspired piece that simply roars with some of the best brass and guitar out there. You can feel the character’s grandeur when the guitar is featured as the main instrument, while strings and brass support it. It’s not my favourite on the album, but it’s another high point. Finally, Shinji “Megaten” Hosoe creates his arrangement of M. Bison in a surprise rock arrangement. The organ and synth work as one, while some choruses show up from time-to-time, only to be swallowed by a nice guitar solo. He displayed these guitar skills on Ibara, so it’s really interesting to see Hosoe displaying a little bit of affinity towards rock in an arrangement.
This tribute album may have a few lows, but the good surpasses the bad to the extent that this doesn’t matter in the end. It you like arranged albums with variety, you cannot go wrong with this album. Even if you are not a Street Fighter fan, the arrangers have done some quality work and should be heard.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Luc Nadeau. Last modified on August 1, 2012.