Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is a serious contender for my favorite game of all time. I could spend hours waxing poetic about its incredible design. How fun it was despite the relatively small roster. How unappreciated it was in its time, simply because of its ridiculously steep learning curve. How its intricate and technical combat mechanics set new standards for the fighting genre. How its complex parrying and combo systems unapologetically demanded memorization down to individual animation frames. How the graphics were some of the finest 2D sprites in the 90s. How high-level play is insanely difficult but extremely entertaining, even almost two decades later. How it’s one of the few games that I’m still willing to play anywhere, anytime.
Yeah, I love3rd Strike.
What many folks remember it for most, however, is the soundtrack. The playlist borrowed from and blended several genres, most notably jazz, rap, techno, and instrumentals. It was a risky departure from the simpler, traditional game music themes (which Street Fighter II helped establish), but the decision paid off in spades. Jazzy NYC ’99 is arguably the most famous track, for obvious reasons. Its catchy beat goes perfectly with the bustling, gritty city subway in which its stage is located. Even after all these years, any old school fighting game fan will recognize it instantly. That’s a testament to this game’s quality.
If you want more 3rd Strike, you can find the full OST here.
Much like its predecessors, Street Fighter III went through multiple iterations over the years. New characters were added and rebalanced, and gameplay mechanics were tweaked to be more complex and technically challenging. It’s understandable why it the game ended up with three versions; at the time, the folks at Capcom believed this was going to be the final Street Fighter game. If you’re going to send off one of the greatest and most influential gaming franchises in existence, you want to go out on a high note. They pulled it off, too; 15 years later, Third Strike is still regarded as arguably the best 2D fighting game ever crafted.
However, many gamers tend to forget the previous versions – New Generation and 2nd Impact – even existed. The latter not only introduced more strategic options to the series, but had an excellent jazz, techno, rap, and drum and base soundtrack. The “Nile” theme encompasses what makes the final showdown with Gill so awesome: a calculating, tense feeling hiding beneath a serene and beautiful surface.
If you want more 2nd Impact, you can find the full OST here.
When you ask gamers about the best titles on the SNES, you’ll probably hear things like Super Mario World, A Link To The Past, Chrono Trigger, or Super Metroid. Occasionally, someone will mention Mega Man X, the continuation of the classic Capcom franchise. It set a high standard for every action/platformer that came after it. It took everything from the old NES games and improved on them in every way. There were characters with actual personalities, more upgrades, flashier graphics, tighter controls, versatile weapons, several secrets, fast pacing, gorgeous levels, and epic bosses.
It was so good.
Its success (it eventually spawned eight sequels!) was also due to its incredible sound design. When something exploded, you heard it. The game was one of the first to demonstrate what the SNES could really do, especially with regards to the soundtrack. The guitar riffs in Storm Eagle’s stage, the jazzy, complex beat of Armored Armadillo’s mine…and of course, Spark Mandrill’s classic rock theme. That last one was revamped by Sixto Sounds for OC Remix’sFor Everlasting Peace: 25 Years Of Mega Man, and it’s arguably the best track on the album. It’s an amazing song paying homage to an even more amazing game.
If you want more Mega Man X, you can find the full OST here. If you want more Sixto Sounds, you can find his page here.
Much like Nintendo and Sega, the rivalry between Capcom and SNK was one of the defining aspects of 90’s video gaming. Both companies had immensely popular fighting games; it’d be impossible to find an arcade that didn’t have at least a couple of their cabinets. They had no qualms about taking little jabs at the other, either. Dan Hibiki, one of Street Fighter’s most iconic characters, was a parody of Art of Fighting’s main protagonists. After nearly a decade of mounting tension, someone finally had a bright idea: turn the rivalry into a game! Capcom VS SNK came out in 2000, but it was quickly overshadowed by sequel, Capcom VS SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001. It had 48 characters spanning almost all of both companies’ libraries, intricate combat mechanics, a deliciously hammy announcer, slick animation, flashy special effects, and a metric ton of fanservice. It also had an absolutely killer soundtrack, as demonstrated by the London stage theme, This Is True Love Makin’. Few fighting game themes can get you to stand up and dance. Turn it up!
If you want more Capcom VS SNK 2, you can find the full OST here.
Last week, I chose the Street Fighter theme of my favorite character, Chun-Li. Earlier this week, however, Capcom released the latest entry in the franchise: Ultra Street Fighter IV. It brings five more fights into the mix, making a total roster of 44 playable characters. Some of them are from Third Strike, my favorite game in the franchise. One of whom is Elena, who was originally designed to showcase the graphical capabilities of 2D sprites. In 1997, she one of the most detailed video game characters ever. Since she specialized in capoeira, she was constantly moving and dancing. Even when you weren’t pressing any buttons! While she’s rendered in 3D now in 2014, her slick fighting style and positive personality haven’t changed a bit. What has changed, however, is her theme, Beats In My Head. The vocals didn’t translate well in the original, but the song was too awesome to forget. Capcom remixed it for Ultra, giving old-time fans like me something to enjoy.
If you want more Street Fighter IV, you can find (most of) the OST here.
I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned beforehow much I lovefighting games. Especially Street Fighter; from the original 1992 release of Street Fighter II on the SNES through the latest PS3 titles, I’ve been playing along the entire time. Chun-Li has always been one of my favorites, and I’m not sure why. Probably because she (and Samus Aran) was the first female character I’d played. Her unique style and color scheme made her stand out. The fact that she was one of the fastest and strongest warriors might have had something to do with it, too.
Like any good fighting game character, Chun-Li has an awesome theme song. It – along with several other iconic tracks – were composed by Yoko Shimomura in the early days of the SNES. It was the among the first to really demonstrate the console’s audio capabilities. Over the last 20 years and several Street Fighter games, the songs have been remixed dozens of times. That they’ve lasted so long is a testament to their quality and appeal. McVaffe’s version from OC Remix isn’t officially on any soundtracks, but it’s easily one of the best renditions of Chun-Li’s theme.
If you want more McVaffe, you can find his page here. If you want more Street Fighter…Well, you can start with SF IIhere.