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Street Fighter Zero 2 Game Soundtrack :: Review by Ashley Winchester

Street Fighter Zero 2 Game Soundtrack Album Title: Street Fighter Zero 2 Game Soundtrack
Record Label: Victor Entertainment
Catalog No.: VIZL-24
Release Date: June 21, 1996
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Released less than a year before Capcom's first foray into tag team madness (X-Men VS Street Fighter), Street Fighter Alpha 2 was perhaps the greatest one-on-one, two-dimensional fighter to consume my childhood gaming hours. While most fans and critics praise Alpha 3 as the series' best with its smorgasbord of characters and options, Alpha 2 managed to stand tall over the years despite the fact it was essentially a small update that more or less made the first game obsolete. An annoying concept that has been part of the series from the beginning, such resilience for any sequel is impressive feat. Crucial as the gameplay was in the game's success, the music that accompanied the experience did more than its fair share to enhance the moment. However, when it comes to the Street Fighter Zero 2 Game Soundtrack, there are things beyond the scope of the release to consider before purchasing.


Home to some great compositions, some of the tunes in Alpha 2 have a bit of a head start over the others. These pieces, like the reprises of "Hearts of Fire" ("Ryu Stage"), "In the Trap" ("Sagat Stage"), and Rolento, Sodom, and Guy's Final Fight retakes are already classic staples of their respective games. This isn't to say the original material isn't without merit, but before one continues their exploration of what the music has to offer, it's imperative to look at the audio itself and that of its console counterparts. Although they all share the same music, the score was rearranged for the current gen systems (the extent of the re-arrangement on the PlayStation and Saturn being unknown, such knowledge being second hand) and completely reformulated for the fading Super Nintendo. The tweaking of the score for the 32-bit consoles raises some interesting questions, though it's really the 16-bit rendition that throws everything into question. What could the music from an inferior, outmoded port have on the Arcade original? The answer is simple, though some may doubt its validity.

In what most people would label as a low-grade reconstruction based on platform alone, not only does the Super Nintendo sound surpass the arcade original, it destroys it. How could a departing system outgun (then) current arcade hardware? Easy: synth. Well, synth and emotion. Similar to other Capcom fighters, the native Q-Sound of the CPS2 arcade board used here is powerful yet a little too underpowered at the same time. Usually, the creative minds at Capcom could overcome this curious quality with their excellent compositions alone — something that fails to be the case this time even with their underling strength. Needless to say, I wasn't expecting what is here to be a mere hop or giant leap away from the downgraded tunes I was reared on, but at some point, given the obvious advantage in technology, you have to put your foot down and demand more. It may be true that the remolded pieces that appear on Nintendo's machine are far from perfect; still, there is a power and boldness to them that is absent — or rather replaced — on this soundtrack. Sure, the instruments in the Arcade score may have a lot more texture and identity to them, though such achievements mean little when they feel so synthetic and refuse to form a homogenous mixture. The most piercing, collective example of the faults above lies in Charlie's theme, a piece that soars so high on the Super Nintendo but reeks of fake depth here.

All of this crosses into the next issue: emotion. Sadly, while Charlie's stage is also robbed blind in this respect, the greatest victim in this heist is "Ryu Stage". A musical testament to a warrior that is destined to roam the world, this version of "Hearts of Fire" has one hell of a confused identity. A moody, sorrowful piece when you get right down to it, why does it employ a conga-like percussion line to depict a cold and frigid environment? Unlike its last gen equivalent that actually focuses on the surroundings, this take ends up in neutral trying to please two unrelated extremes and does little to satisfy the needs of the listener and character. Going down the line, be it the haunting peaks of "Birdie Stage," the slow sense of progress in "Rolento Stage," the bulkiness of "Zangief Stage," or the ethic styling of Akuma's stage, there isn't a stage theme that tops its Super Nintendo revision. An exception can be made for "Dhalsim Stage" which is totally disposable regardless of platform.

Things only get worse for the soundtrack as they get better for the forgotten port. Living and dying through their use of repetition, heavy edits and changes of a positive nature rescue the ending themes in dashing style. Doubling as an ending and credits theme, "Staff Roll 1" effectively replaces the particularly atrocious "Sakura Ending 1 & 2" from making a re-appearance. Welcome as that is, the most significant improvement is how the (majority) of concluding segments (part 2's) have been dropped, freeing the initial piece of Charlie's ending from the wretched "you won but you still lost" portion that was never necessary. Powerful as the bass line and concluding subtext is on the SNES, Akuma takes the prize in this area with his ending/staff roll painting a vivid picture of an evil — yet tragic — individual with nothing left to lose.


Even though it maintains the sound and quality Capcom's arcade soundtracks are known for, the Street Fighter Zero 2 Game Soundtrack is a wolf in sheep's clothing. Unfortunately, this may cause a problem for those whose memories lie with the PlayStation, Saturn, and Super Nintendo ports of the title, the former raising an important question. If Capcom went to the trouble to release a soundtrack for the original arcade audio, why use an arranged version of the score on the 32-bit consoles? Looking at other ports of Capcom titles from the same era, if the change wasn't born out of a hardware limitation (quite unlikely), was it out of a concern for quality? Again, this is mere speculation due to many unknown variables, but if anything Alpha 2 joins other scores like Robert Prince's Doom for surprisingly turning out better on an obsolete system (Super Nintendo) than it originating/superior platforms. Crazy as the suggestion still sounds, if you're looking for the definitive edition of this score you should save your money and track down music from the inferior yet superior Super Nintendo port.

Overall Score: 6/10