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.
A little while back, I mentioned a game called D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die. It’s an exclusive title for the Xbox One directed by SWERY. While I’m not interested in the console, the concept of the game is pretty awesome: A private investigator from Boston (complete with the stereotypical accent), traveling through time to recollect the memories surrounding his wife’s murder. At times it’s surreal, hilarious, and utterly bizarre. What other game has slice-of-life moments involving clam chowder? Its jazz instrumental-based soundtrack is easily one of the finest of 2014. Due to the game’s relative obscurity, however, a lot of people haven’t heard it yet. Even if you’re not into gaming, the OST is definitely worth a listen.
D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die was recently released an XBox One exclusive. It’s about a private investigator who can travel through time, and must recollect the memories surrounding his wife’s murder. It sounds kind of sketchy at first glance – the episodic releases and fact that it uses the oft-maligned Kinect are deal-breakers for some gamers – but it absolutely thrives under the direction of Hidetaka Suehiro, aka SWERY. David Young could’ve just been a generic protagonist, but his penchant for sarcasm and hilarious mannerisms are entertaining. As are the other characters, including a cat-girl roommate, a flamboyant fashion designer, a hammy drug courier, a balding US marshal, a paranoid flight passenger, and a detective capable of Joey Chestnut-levels of food consumption. Also, Young and his cohorts are the most Bostonian characters since The Departed. Seriously, CLAM CHOWDER.
This bizarre investigation is made even better with its soundtrack. The work done by Yuji Takenouchi and Tomomi Teratani is an impressive blend of rock, jazz and funk. Consider the awesome saxophone of “Nu Movement,” the upbeat instrumentals of “Tiptoe,” the haunting vocals of “Arousal,” or the soothing melody of “A String.” Few games these days have OSTs of such high quality, and it’s a travesty that D4 is being overlooked so much. If you have a XBox One, please give it a look. Hopefully the game will get enough support for more episodes.
If you want more D4, you can find previews here and here. Edit: Looks like nearly all the leaked tracks have been taken off of YouTube. The OST has been officially released since the this was posted. More details can be found on the game’s site.
Most people associate sports-based video games with stuff like Madden or MLB. But for me, the SSX series reigned supreme. Snowboarding games are relatively few and far between, but SSX made its mark in the best way. Gamers in the early 2000s will fondly remember doing Olympic-level jumps and insane board tricks, all set against a gorgeously rendered snow-capped mountain. They’ll also remember the amazing soundtracks, culminating with SSX 3. The great blend of rock, techno, and metal made even the easiest bunny hills into epic jam sessions.