Posts Tagged ‘Street Fighter’

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What Makes it Memorable? – Street Fighter II – “Theme of Chun-Li” (Yoko Shimomura, eta al)

November 20, 2010

When I hear about catchy game music, one game that often pops up is Street Fighter II. This game has the advantage of being played by millions of people around the world and so the music is deeply familiar to many people, but at the same time, the music has its qualities that make it easily recognizable. Here, “Theme of Chun-Li” is a good example to use.

Street Fighter II: The World Warrior – “China (Chun-Li)” (Yoko Shimomura, et al)

All the themes of Street Fighter are designed to illustrate the personality, national identity, and fighting style of the character. Chun-Li, of course, is headstrong confident, and kicks like a deadly dancer, so that and her Chinese background are illustrated in the song. Her theme is recognizable from the four-second opening, with 14 notes played on what seems to be a dulcimer, which plays as the background melody for the first half of the song as something the melody can fall back on. The sequence is also punctuated by jangling bells from percussion (perhaps a street reference?). The combination of easily-recognizable theme using repetition and call-and-response even in this short, four-bar sequence, the unique instrument, and the Chinese pentatonic scale immediately make the tune recognizable while the fast pace aids in its catchiness because there almost isn’t enough time to register the melody.

Next, we have the main portion of the theme, which has long, high, bold notes played on a synth flute, with quick bursts of shorter notes. Yet there is a dominant note that is sustained and repeated throughout this segment, playing for over half its 20 seconds or so. This repetition, as well as the high tone, is key to making this piece memorable – the brain can’t help but encode its pattern. After this is another 20 second sequence where the dulcimer takes over the melody, and here the repetition of a single note is replaced by the repetition of short mountains of the scale, rapidly peaking, then dropping – adding variety to the melody. Overall, the layering and variation of melody, repetition of single notes and short sequences of notes, makes the track especially memorable.

That being said, not all themes of Chun-Li are created equal. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Blood on the Asphalt – “New Mexican Thunderbird” (Vurez)

January 23, 2010

Vurez has done some pretty great remixes of vgm, especially his Mega Man 6 remix series. However, one of my favorites of his is “New Mexican Thunderbird” from Blood on the Asphalt (2006) which remixed music from Super Street Fighter II and was later used in Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD. (Yes, Capcom’s titles for this series go beyond the point of absurdity.)

Blood on the Asphalt – “New Mexican Thunderbird” (Vurez)

Vurez is good at picking instruments that match the ethnic and local quality of a theme. “New Mexican Thunderbird” is the theme of Thunder Hawk, a member of the fictional Thunderfoot clan from the Southwest. Vurez is able to capture the feel of a dusty marketplace in the Southwest where local fighters gather to spar and train and where one’s reputation is based on ability gained through hard work. Thunder Hawk emerges as a local hero who can be counted on and praised and the over-the-top music gives a sense of that kind of fortitude and masculine hero-worship and a sense of nostalgia for a lost warrior past. The wonderfully cheesy trumpet and chanting warriors gives a sense of color and breath of life to Yoko Shimomura’s original tune that is simply lost for me with most of the other characters’ themes. Not that the others didn’t try, as Shael Riley, the album’s lead arranger, states:

The arrangements contained herein have been designed to be evocative of dark, pseudo-romanticized urban imagery: abandoned playgrounds and crowded street markets; back-alley block parties and hole-in-the-wall bar dives, scenes that are, I hope, befitting of a tribute to one of the most iconic games in arcade history.

For me, Vurez is the clear winner. You can expect nothing less from the guy who singlehandedly remixed all the robot master themes from Mega Man 6.

Note that for the Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD soundtrack, there is a deathmatch version of each song that plays when the character is low on HP and becomes tougher. While most of the other artists simply created shorter and simpler versions of their tracks, Vurez gave his quite a bit more variation, making it a unique piece in the soundtrack.

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Blood on the Asphalt – “Made in USA (Ken Stage)” (Sixto Sounds)

November 5, 2009

This song is made of pure awesome. It’s solid American rock with some serious drums and a strong synth backup. This was the early ’90s when arcades were still popular and chock full of kung fu fighters playing Street Fighter II, which pretty much created the fighting game genre, and “Made in USA (Ken Stage)” does a great job of capturing that feel of quarter-popping, slushies, and roller rinks. The song is the theme of Ken Masters, one of the main characters from the game, and so “Ken’s Theme” is pretty recognizable due to the popularity of the series as well as its excellent composition.

Blood on the Asphalt – “Made in USA (Ken Stage)” (Sixto Sounds)

“Made in USA” is a Super Street Fighter II remix from the OverClocked ReMix album, Blood on the Asphalt – A Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo ReMix Collaboration (*whew!*). The original Street Fighter II (1991)¬†soundtrack was composed by the amazing Yoko Shimomura, whose works include Parasite Eve, Legend of Mana, and Kingdom Hearts. A funny thing about the album was it was later picked up by Capcom as the soundtrack for Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix (2007)¬†for XBox Live Arcade, making it the first fan-created soundtrack to be used in a commercial videogame. You can listen to the original soundtrack on the album site while the game soundtrack is available on the OCR torrent page.

Shimomura is the second female composer to be featured on a Daily (the first being Michiru Yamane). Read the rest of this entry ?