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Street Fighter III 3rd Strike Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Street Fighter III 3rd Strike 'Fight for the Future' Original Soundtrack Album Title: Street Fighter III 3rd Strike "Fight for the Future" Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Suleputer
Catalog No.: CPCA-1028
Release Date: July 7, 1999
Purchase: Buy at Game Music Online


Street Fighter III 3rd Strike: Fight for the Future was the final and best known edition of the Street Fighter series. Given it featured more characters than previous instalments, there are more stage themes in this soundtrack than others in the series. Sole composer Hideki Okugawa opted to create mainly new compositions rather than arrange previous themes this time. He also emphasises the urban tone of the game even more than before, blending the jazz of New Generation and drum & bass of 2nd Impact with even some hip-hop. After the exceptional sound design of 2nd Impact by Hiroaki Kondo, 3rd Strike took a surprising regression due to the sloppy work of New Generation returnee Satoshi Ise. The Dreamcast version redeemed matters resulting in an excellent score, but a soundtrack was only released for the Arcade version. In addition to being released in Japan under Capcom's Suleputer record label, the score received a rare honour of a domestic print by Mars Colony. The releases are identical aside a crucial bonus CD in the Japanese version.


A large proportion of the score is rhythmically focused. Remy's "Spunky" and Makoto's "The Beep", for instance, juxtapose several electronic samples in an idiosyncratic manner to witty and compelling effect. Elena's "Beats in my Head" inspires dancing by fragmenting and distorting a voice sample in conjunction with disco beats and saxophone work. The stage themes are otherwise free of voice samples contrary to the soundtrack's reputation. The bonus theme "The Theme of Q" features a blend of enigmatic melodies and carefree electronic beats to depict an extremely mysterious character. "The Circuit" and "Crazy Chili Dog" are aggressive riff-based tracks featuring a mixture of grunge and industrial influences. For the final boss Gill, "Psych Out" blends psychedelic trance and a boundless science-fiction motif to very atmospheric effect in the game.

There are plenty of prominent, if minimalistically treated, oriental influences in this score too. Chun-Li's "China Vox" loops an oriental sample against drum & bass work to portray the hybridised influences of the stage; the repetition creates a suitable transient feel for the shorter encounters and, just as it risks tiring during long playtimes, the theme enters a lengthy development section made intriguing by the lack of the original sample. Ibuki's "Twilight" takes a similar but more expressive approach, blending suspended ethnic flute notes and light electronic beats upon Okugawa's jazz-influenced rhythmical constructions. Ryu's "Kobu - Inspiration" seems influenced by Imperial Japan with its distinctive tonality and threatening percussion use, while Gouki's "Killing Moon" portrays wildness with its rapid unsynchronised oriental woodwinds and electronic beats.

There are some uninteresting listens on the 3rd Strike. "The Longshoreman" quickly becomes monotonous due to its sole focus on an underdeveloped and derivative saxophone melody. Following the excellent "Get On A Train", "Snowland" feels like a triviality given it simply features more generic saxophone work and drum & bass beats, even if it is unique in the way it blends them. However, even the arrangements of classic themes can disappoint. "Jazzy NYC '99" verges hesitantly close to its lacklustre New Generation original in terms of arrangement and synthesis. "Crowded Street - 3rd Edit", on the other hand, sticks very closely to its action movie arrangement on 2nd Impact, but feels laboured this time despite a great electronica interlude. Disappointingly, Okugawa decided to ditch Yuki Iwai's equally classic "Leave Alone" in favour of the acceptable but undistinguished "You Blow My Mind".

The other subsidiary themes of 3rd Strike mainly reinforce its hard image. They range from the blistering electronica of "Bonus Stage 1", the experimentation of "Bonus Stage 2" and "Gill Appearance", and the mellow main theme reprise in "Stage Results". Further indicating Okugawa was rushed on this project, there are only three brief ending themes here, featuring clanky piano work, an electro-funk, and more generic saxophone work respectively. What makes the subsidiary themes exceptional are the rap tracks. While "Opening Demo" and "Player Select" are somewhat underdeveloped and cheesy, they form the basis of three full-length rap tracks by Infinite on the bonus CD. They're basically well done featuring strong melodies, plenty of rhythmical drive, and a good sense of lyricism. These Japan exclusives are also essential to tie the score together thematically and stylistically.


The score is the most maturely and influentially styled of the Street Fighter III series with its seamless blends of electronica, jazz, rap, rock, and oriental music. However, it is a weaker stand-alone listening experience than 2nd Impact given the poor synthesis and the inconsistency of the stage themes. It will probably still be the definitive Street Fighter III listening experience for many given how popular the game was relative to its predecessor and also how monumental some of the highlights of its soundtrack were. Nevertheless, it's well worth importing the Japan version instead of buying the domestic version since the bonus disc really helps to bring the score together. It won't be enjoyable for those who unconditionally hate rap music, but it's still an essential component of the 3rd Strike musical experience. It's also worthwhile getting hold of a Dreamcast rip given the synthesis here actually does the themes justice. Overall, the Street Fighter III 3rd Strike "Fight for the Future" Original Soundtrack is a recommended purchase.

Overall Score: 7/10