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Namco Game Sound Express Vol. 26 - Tekken 2 :: Review by Chris

Namco Game Sound Express Vol. 26 - Tekken 2 Album Title: Namco Game Sound Express Vol. 26 - Tekken 2
Record Label: Victor Entertainment
Catalog No.: VICL-15050
Release Date: November 22, 1995
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Less than a year after the smash hit Arcade game Tekken, Namco decided to release Tekken 2. With new characters, storylines, and moves, the game successfully refined the Tekken formula, but was soon outshined by the vastly superior PlayStation version. The Arcade score once again featured female duo Yoshie Arakawa and Yoshie Takayanagi crafting a mixture of catchy and abstract tunes in a broadly electro-jazz style. It was largely continuous with its predecessor, but was better synthesized and felt more worldly. Namco Game Sound Express Vol. 26 - Tekken 2, the penultimate release in Namco's iconic series of Namco Arcade soundtrack releases, showcased the results. Is it worth listening to or is it superseded by the separately released PlayStation score?


Much like its predecessor, the appeal of Tekken 2's Arcade soundtrack is from its catchy features. Michelle Chang's theme, for instance, immediately invigorates players with its infectious jazz-inspired piano chord sequence. It maintains interest with its spunky melodies and punchy interlude all the while portraying the youthful attitude of the character to a tee. The themes for the older male characters Lei Wulong and Marshall Law both feature motivating bass riffs and melodic hooks too. However, they are actually quite different musically — the former featuring the orthodox pop-influenced musicality of Yoshie Arakawa and the latter highlighting the unpredictable and outlandish nature of Yoshie Takayanagi's work. The martial theme for series' veteran Yoshimitsu sounds better than ever. The synthesis of Japanese drums, chants, and flutes is impeccable and reaffirms that Namco are the kings of the Arcade.

There are nonetheless darker additions to the soundtrack. The almost elegaic organ introduction of King's theme represents the tortured soul of the masked fighter. The electronic beats and jazz explorations later in the theme up the pace while continuing to portray intense misery. Similar features are used to portray the formidable appearance of Jack2; yet while King's theme conveys humanity, Jack2's has a robotic feel with its mechanical sound effects and rigid rhythmical constructions. Much of Nina Williams' theme focuses on conveying action and feminity with bubbly jazz features, though the dark introduction is enough for gamers to realize she is a cold-blooded killer. However, it's probably Devil Kazuya's theme that is most surreal and enigmatic — blending brooding chorus, tribal drums, and warmer ethnic flute solos. Trust me, it works a treat in context.

There are a few weaker additions to the soundtrack nonetheless. The intention to represent Paul Phoenix with saloon music was a good one, but the result is actually sounds repetitious and goofy. Similarly, Baek Wan Doo's portrayal as a wild exotic fighter is effective in context, but balance issues hinder it on a stand-alone level and the PlayStation arranged version is far better. The remainder of the 30 minute soundtrack isn't that notable either. While the character select track features some gorgeous funk grooves, the introduction movie features an unpleasant amalgam of orch hits and the ending theme packs too many themes into a 1:22 playtime. Unlike its predecessor, there are no arranged tracks since Namco wanted to save them for the Tekken 2 Strike Fighting albums. We're just left with a 48 second sound effects collection as a bonus instead.


Namco Game Sound Express Vol. 26 - Tekken 2 is an enjoyable and accomplished soundtrack for the most part. The character themes are catchy, diverse, and endearing, not to mention very well-synthesized for their time. They nicely build on the electro-jazz foundations of the series laid down by Tekken while introducing a range of new thematic and stylistic material too. However, the amount of material is very limited — there is just 30 minutes of music and few substantial bonuses. This was reflected with the cheap price of the disc when it was originally released, though listeners may be disappointed if they decide to pay quite a few more bucks for it 14 years later. It is ultimately the excellent Tekken 2 Strike Fighting albums for the PlayStation version that make this one a redundant purchase, however; although split across two volumes, these feature stunning arrangements of the themes featured here, even better synthesis, and a lot more for your money. The Tekken 2 Arcade score is a great one, but the soundtrack release is best left for hardcore fans.

Overall Score: 7/10