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Fighting Vipers 2 The Sound Album :: Review by Chris

Fighting Vipers 2 The Sound Album Album Title: Fighting Vipers 2 The Sound Album
Record Label: Polygram
Catalog No.: POCX-1053
Release Date: September 26, 1996
Purchase: Buy at eBay


Fighting Vipers 2 was the second and last instalment of Sega's 'other' versus fighting series. The original Fighting Vipers featured a convincing mainstream-oriented sound and excellent synthesis, but was hopelessly derivative. The sequel improves upon this by offering the first solo score by to-be Yakuza composer Hidenori Shoji. Let's take a closer look...


A fitting way to start this review would be to look at track eight. Its title, "Good Noise", might seem like an oxymoron but its also somewhat fitting here. As the name implies, this track is mainly comprised of electronic distortion and other sorts of apparently unpleasant sounds above some electronic beats. Yet rather than have a particularly unappealing effect, the composition manages to be quite compelling, due to its groovy rhythms and thrusting soundscapes. Shoji also expresses plenty of individuality too after the highly derivative approach of the original Fighting Vipers. True, it'll be a little hostile for all, but it's far from nonsensical noise. What's more, it fits quite well in its respective stage and suits the dynamic of versus fighting gameplay.

For the most part, the soundtrack maintains the hard yet compelling approach featured in "Good Noise". There are plenty more industrial tracks, such as "Deeper", "UFO Diner", and "L.S.D.", all of which are skilfully composed and wonderfully implemented. There are also many rock-oriented tracks, such as "Poker Face", "Inspire", and "Burning Bear". While these are quite mainstream-targeted, they far less derivative than those in the original Fighting Vipers. This is largely because of their highly gritty and distorted feel, which forms the basis of the bass-driven sound that Shoji developed on the Yakuza series. Others such as "Non-Stop Bass" even dare to incorporate hip-hop sounds, though it's clear that the sample libraries of the day were limiting here.

There are three bonus tracks at the end of the soundtrack. "Beginning -Remix Version-" is a much more fleshed-out version of the opening track for the album. It's impressive how it builds up from its atmospheric opening into a brash yet somehow uplifting array of electronic beats. "L.S.D. -Remix Version" also features a number of subtleties that the hardcore original did not have; the interlude at 1:42 is especially welcome and creates the sort of mood many trance tracks do. Finally, "Hopping Jam" is an unused prototype track for the game that builds up with a succession of hip-hop beats, siren sound effects, and guitar licks. It's pretty enjoyable, but it's quite easy to see why it might not have fit in the game.


Finally, the Fighting Vipers series gained a unique voice for itself under Hidenori Shoji, albeit before being never heard from again. Not all will enjoy Shoji's industrial techno and grunge rock compositions for the series, but they are mostly very well done; they fit the context they are used in and have a real cutting-edge feel on a stand-alone basis. It's a soundtrack well worth sampling.

Overall Score: 8/10