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Nesshou!! Street Fighter II :: Review by Chris

Album Title Catalog No.
Nesshou!! Street Fighter II PCCB-00103
Nesshou!!! Street Fighter II Original Karaoke Version PCCB-00115
Nesshou!! Street Fighter II Instrumental Version PCCB-00114


Shortly after the release of Street Fighter II: The World Warrior, Capcom released a vocal album dedicated to the game, Nesshou!! Street Fighter II. It featured diverse vocalists interpreting the 12 character themes from the game and trying to get into the personality of the characters. To accompany the release, a karaoke version and instrumental adaptation were also provided. While the idea of having voice actors interpreting their character themes sounds interesting, can it possibly work with the material provided? Were the instrumental versions any better?


One of the biggest problems with the vocal album is that the singers seem unsuitable to represent Street Fighter II's characters. The almighty Guile is represented by a feeble Japanese who isn't quite sure whether his voice has broken. The eccentric Dhalsim now sounds little more than a murmuring fool. Even the lead male Ryu sounds incredibly boyish here due to the casting of Junichi Yamamoto. Part of the issue is that the sheer majority of the album is sung in Japanese. Japanese lyrics set to Chinese- or Brazil-inspired melodies sound just as inappropriate as English lyrics would. It's perhaps no coincidence that the one really solid track on the set features lyrics in the appropriate language. The bluesy performance by American vocalist Hi Tide Harris is just sublime on Balrog's theme. An outstanding example of what the album could have been like.

Though Street Fighter II's melodies were strong and memorable, they weren't really intended for singing. Sure, most of us have whistled or hummed a melody from the game from time to time, but few of us could really imagine ourselves doing karaoke based on the game (see later). Maki Miyamae's voice isn't peppy enough to portray Chun-Li's frivolous melody yet few other vocalists could sound natural. While Vega's singer is competent, the melody seems more suited to a fast and gliding Spanish guitar than a stern vocal performance. Probably the biggest misfit is Sagat's theme, though. How anyone thought a funk-inspired theme could be compatible with an operatic tenor performance is beyond me. The awkward melodies can make some performances even more hilarious though. The boisterous portrayal of a clumsy Russian giant or wild representation of electric man Blanka are bound to generate a few laughs!

That said, some of the instrumental work is good. Despite the vocals being off, the construction of Vega is otherwise sublime; the ritualistic drums and horror sound effects provide a shocking contrast to the beautiful piano solos and dashes of flamenco. The slow-building piano and strings introduction to M. Bison is made all the more chilling by the obsessive repetition of the two chord sequence from the original. Other highlights include wild electric guitar solo on Guile, some of the jazz fusion guitar use on Sagat, and of course the cheesy bass line of Zangief. The instrumentals in the remaining tracks tend to provide functional accompaniment or rhythmical sequences, but provide little interesting. A side note is that the music of some tracks, including Ken, E. Honda, and Dhalsim, can be obstructed by occasional sound or voice effects taken from the game. they are especially annoying in the instrumental versions.

There were also two instrumental versions of this arranged album. The Nesshou!! Street Fighter II Original Karaoke Version is exactly the same as this release except without the lead vocals. For almost all audiences out there, this album is completely redundant and a waste of money. Though it's a relief not to have any terrible vocalists, the album sounds very hollow and uninteresting without them. It's definitely not for stand-alone listening. A closet audience out there might want to try singing over these themes and seeing if they can better the original vocalists. It's necessary to have a copy of the original counterpart though. I can only cringe at the thought of someone in Japan actually performing these themes at a karaoke evening, though. If you're reading this and thinking 'Why? It sounds like an amazing idea', please don't corrupt my inbox with your emails as I'll be too scared to reply.

The Sing!! Street Fighter II Instrumental Version differs because instrumental performances replace the vocals. This is ideal for people who are incompatible with these vocals (or singing in general), but the album is a low quality production. The synthetic lead instruments tend to be poor quality; the saxophone on Ken is just atrocious and the violin on Chun-Li is bound to raise some eyebrows. Worst still, the leads on Zangief, Balrog, and Sagat are replaced with cheap keyboards that sound completely inappropriate given the characters and the accompaniment. The drama is lost from Vega too with the shoddily integrated lead. There are a few examples where the instrumental versions sound better than the originals, such as M. Bison with chalumeau clarinet, Ryu with steel-stringed guitar, and Dhalsim with groovy sitar. However, they're way too few to save this production and make it compare against other instrumental arranged albums.


Put simply, Nesshou!! Street Fighter II is a ridiculous album. The vocalists rarely seem compatible with the melodies they sing or the characters they represent. Few arrangements feature good enough instrumentals to compensate for the limitations. There is only one truly accomplished arrangement on the disc, the bluesy Balrog's theme, while the rest range from flawed but interesting to completely awful. Unfortunately, the karaoke version is a very hollow accompaniment and will only fulfil the needs of a mentally deranged niche. The instrumental version had more potential, but has very low production values as demonstrated by the inappropriate choices and poor synthesis of the leads. Skip these albums in favour of the better Street Fighter II albums.

Overall Score: 4/10