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Fighting Vipers Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Fighting Vipers Original Soundtrack Album Title: Fighting Vipers Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Polygram
Catalog No.: POCX-1030
Release Date: May 25, 1996
Purchase: Buy at eBay


In the mid 1990s, rock-based soundtracks for fighting games had become the norm and composers from Sega, Capcom, SNK, and Tecmo were competing to see who could offer the hardest grooves. Sega put in a respectable entry with 1995's Fighting Vipers, a game similar to Virtua Fighters except with armored characters and walled arenas. Nevertheless, its audio proved more of a technological achievement than a compositional breakthrough...


"Armstone Town Bay" will offer a familiar sound for those who spent time in Arcades back in the day. Built almost completely on guitars, listeners should expect to hear dense rhythm guitar riffs punctuated against liberating melodies from the lead. Composer David Leytze, himself an American who was collaborating overseas, didn't hesitate to offer many of the stylistic features of Western guitarists of that day and offers quite an authentic band sound. Perhaps more spectacular than the composition itself is its high quality, gritty implementation that overcomes the prevailing limitations of most Arcade sound boards of the day. This is what separates it from similarly styled competitors, including Sega's own Virtua Fighter 3.

The album maintains a mainstream-targeted approach throughout, but still manages to achieve quite a decent amount of diversity. "Armstone Airport" provides a pleasant relief from the more clunky riff-based tracks with its liberated melody and funky rhythms. Leytze emphasises his electronic side further in "Big Factory" and "Advertize", each featuring great keyboard licks. Though typical, the former is especially memorable in the fitting where played and adds a little more individuality to the stage. The rest of the tracks are mostly hard rock-based entries that can be collectively overwhelming and individually uninspiring...

With definition, diversity, and authenticity, where does this soundtrack fall down? Its main problem is that it lacks a unique voice — featuring relatively unmemorable melodies and largely typical stylings — to resound against similarly styled soundtracks of the day. Largely riff-based tracks such as "Top of the City" and "UFO Diner" especially suffer out of context, while more melodic entries such as "Armstone Town Bay" and "Armstone Town Night" still aren't that interesting. A further problem with the album is its length and, aside the eight stage themes, the album is only able to offer a few brief menu tracks and a pointless character sounds collection.


Fighting Vipers works much better as a contextual experience than a stand-alone one. Essentially all the tracks for the game are elaborate, fitting, and, above all, cutting-edge compositions, due to accomplished composition and implementation alike. However, they're generally too derivative, samey, and few in number to be of much appeal otherwise. The final album has bundles of energy, but lacks a soul.

Overall Score: 6/10