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Namco Game Sound Express Vol. 17 - Tekken :: Review by Z-Freak

Namco Game Sound Express Vol. 17 - Tekken Album Title: Namco Game Sound Express Vol. 17 - Tekken
Record Label: Victor Entertainment
Catalog No.: VICL-15039
Release Date: March 24, 1995
Purchase: Buy at eBay


During the mid-90s, the success of Capcom's Street Fighter II spawned many fighting games that tried to be as good if not better than it. Some like Data East's Fighter's History Dynamite implemented the opportunity to tag team during fights while Namco's Tekken relied mainly on its 3D graphics to wow the audience. On the subject of Tekken, it did have one other noteworthy aspect going for it — the soundtrack. Composed by Yoshie Arakawa and Yoshie Takayanagi, it had a fairly varied soundtrack that not only relied on different instrumentation but also a bit of an atmospheric touch in a few tracks. Without further ado, let's dive into the meat of the album!


Arakawa is the star of the album, as she contributes most of the tracks and those tend to be the most melodic of the bunch. For instance, "King George Island, Antarctica" uses what sounds like a harsh wind effect in the background, which would be fitting in the Antarctic. The theme itself is heavy on beats and percussion and provides an enjoyable melody. "Acropolis, Greece" has a sound that one would likely associate with ancient Greece; I can't really describe it, but just the slow pace and melody works wonders here. And speaking of wonders, "Kyoto, Japan" is likely my favorite of Arakawa's tracks. Just the traditional instruments plus the voice effect really gets the blood pumping here. It also helps that the theme is fast paced and quite melodic.

As for Takayanagi, her themes aren't quite as melodic and rely more on atmospherics. A perfect example of this is "Monument Valley, U.S.A.". It starts off with winds and has a choral effect and brings in a little bit of wailing synth. Not very melodic, but the atmospheric effect is a big part of the track. "Szechwan, China" fares much better in the melodic department thanks to some well placed synth solos and the Chinese percussions that provide the backing instrumentation. Returning one last time to Arakawa, the stage theme selection ends with the very fitting "Chicago, U.S.A." It has a very catchy melody plus makes use of a vocoder various parts of the theme, particularly in the introduction where it counts 1 to 4. Great in and out of context.

But wait, we're not done yet. Here comes the best part: the arrangements provided by none other than Shinji Hosoe, Nobuyoshi Sano and Takayuki Aihara. Hosoe's arrangement of Chicago just proves yet again his mastery with electronica, especially once the vocoder comes around and the main synth starts going. It's easy to be addicted by this track if you like this type of music. By the end, Hosoe throws in a nice little synth solo and ends the arrangement on a good note. Sano's arrangement of Marine Stadium is just so weird, especially the beginning, but once it moves into the main melody, things start to make sense. It's just how he seems to warp the beginning and middle that may throw off a few listeners.

Saving the most interesting till last, Aihara was responsible for the arrangement of the Kyoto theme. It starts off with chanting and quickly brings in flutes and drums into the piece. The melody here is fantastic and the retro-synth solo at about 1:30 into the track is just too charming. After that solo, Aihara goes the jazzy way by having a trumpet sound off with the rest of the instruments. Eventually it calms down until you hear some voices talking and screaming, which is easily the most amusing part of the track. It all ends with a well placed Gong.


So there you have it, a fairly short soundtrack (about 40 minutes) that has its shares of surprises. If you're looking for fighting game music that's a bit off the side of Street Fighter, this could be it. If it's catchy melodies you want, you're guaranteed those on Arakawa's tracks. And the arrangements speak for themselves; they're simply fun to listen to. I have no idea how rare this album is, but given it was printed in 1995, you could have a bit of trouble tracking it down for a fair price. But I believe this album deserves a spot in everyone's game music collection, right alongside whatever album of Street Fighter you may have.

Overall Score: 8/10