Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Favourite Video Game Music #4 - Street Fighter III: Third Strike

I there was a black sheep in the Street Fighter family then the SFIII series would certainly be that sheep. Undoubtedly a masterpiece of fighting game design, it nonetheless failed to seize the world's attention in the same way that Street Fighter II did and there are numerous factors contributing to this. This was a period when fighting games were beginning to lose their popularity somewhat, retreating further into a hardcore specialist zone that made its stronghold in native Japan. Also, it was impossible to ignore the fact that by the series' final iteration - Third Strike - only four characters from SFII had made the cut (Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li and Akuma). The new cast was a mix of oddball and oft bizarre designs that didn't have the same universal appeal as the likes of Guile and Zangief. It's telling (and a shame) that a lot of these characters still haven't been re-used since.

The music too is nothing like what came before. The soundtrack for SFIII is both funky and atmospheric with some tracks even sounding like they belonged in something like Darkstalkers instead. In my opinion however, it is nonetheless a great soundtrack and the unique sounds certainly make it more memorable. My top five picks come from the PS2 edition of Third Strike (subtitled 'Fight for the Future') and I believe this is some form of arranged OST though I'm not 100% sure. In any case, here we go!

Note: All music is copyright of Capcom and other respective owners. The videos used are not my own work but the uploads of the applicable Youtube members.

5. Main theme for Third Strike

Here's one that will get into your head with its annoyingly catchy "THREEEEEEE YEEEAAAAAAH". The rap aspect of this track will be a big turn off for some but I personally think this huge change in musical direction perfectly suits the huge change made to the game and characters - this really was a new generation in the same way that Tekken 3 binned a lot of what the players already knew. One thing's for sure: Capcom doesn't do music like this anymore and the newer Street Fighter games are all the poorer for it.

4. Character Select screen music

This one really comes alive at 0:57 with the chilled out vibes becoming super smooth. If you hated the main theme (above) then it's unlikely you will feel any different about the select screen music but this is music that genuinely hasn't aged that much and I love it. It's just a shame that the select screen timer runs out before the track reaches that magical 0:57 moment but for whatever reason, it begins right there on the training stage select screen!

3. Kobu (Ryu's Theme)

When listening to this track, you could be forgiven that you were playing Alpha 3 because there are definitely some of that game's vibes leaking through here. My favourite section begins at 1:32 when those traditional Japanese sounds join in and lighten the intensity. It also goes really well with the beautiful stage background and ensures that getting Hadoken'd to oblivion several times in a row by the main man himself doesn't become tiresome.

2. Beats in my Head (Elena's Theme)

If you want a perfect example of how SFIII's OST is diverse within itself (before even comparing it to SFII) then look no further than Elena's theme. Here is a track that sounds like pure 90's groove and there's nothing else like it in the SF series. Does it fit with the tribal African background? Maybe not but who cares - this is brilliant.

1. Under a Killing Moon (Akuma's Theme)

We go from 90's groove to 90's Drum 'n Bass...well that's what Akuma's Third Strike track sounds like anyway; old school DnB (not Dandelion & Burdock) blended with haunting Japanese notes and Capcom's signature 90's sounds. Considering the name of this track and the character it belongs to, you might expect it to sound more sinister but that isn't the case. If you enjoy it as much as I do however then that's no problem. If you're not a pro player, you'll get plenty of chances to listen to it too because Akuma is an absolute beast in this game with combos that can ruin you in no time at all.

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