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Street Fighter EX Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Street Fighter EX Original Soundtrack Album Title: Street Fighter EX Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Pony Canyon
Catalog No.: PCCB-00241
Release Date: February 21, 1997
Purchase: Buy at eBay


In 1997, Arika brought the Street Fighter series into 3D with Street Fighter EX. The game and its score were neither the most commercially or critically successful of the franchise, but still had their charms. Featuring Takayuki Aihara, Ayako Saso, and Shinji Hosoe, the original score deviated from the pop-flavoured soundtracks of previous Street Fighter games in favour of a largely electronic approach. Nevertheless, it still retained a focus on character-based stage themes, giving way to plenty of great melodies and diverse depictions nonetheless. Let's take a closer look...


The title and character select themes may be a little hostile for those who grew up with Street Fighter II with their abrasive bass lines and hard rock influences. Nevertheless, they took the series in a new direction and certainly offer plenty of energy at the start of the game. Fortunately, the three composers still continue to maintain the series' emphasis on strong melodies, as is immediately evident with the stage themes "Rising Dragoon" and "Guardian of Light". Both combine anthemic whistleable melodies with punchy funk-tinged bass lines to compelling effect. The melodies don't have the same fluidity or expansiveness as Yoko Shimomura's classics, yet they're a fine 'second best' and worth of many relistens. They're also not as expansive or refined as their successors in Street Fighter EX3 or Street Fighter IV, but still highly accomplished for their time.

Like its predecessors, Street Fighter EX's score isn't short of stylistic diversity and personality. Ayako Saso's "Cold Pipe" and Shinji Hosoe's "Under Tube" are among the more hostile and industrial themes on the soundtrack, comparable to some of their Sampling Masters works; however, they're wonderfully implemented for their time and listeners are bound to get some kicks from their compelling rhythms. "Cherry Trees...", "Garnet Sky", and "Arabesque" meanwhile offer some much-needed cultural diversity to the soundtrack, appropriately accompanying their stages with their respective Japanese, Spanish, and Arabian styles. Takayuki Aihara's "Arabesque", in particular, has gone on to become a classic as Pullum Purna's theme and has been arranged in many of Arika's other productions. Other favourites include "Tenkyaku Buka" with its retro-influenced rock organ leads and "Amusementative Crime" with its wild electronic distortions.

The later stage themes in the soundtrack are certainly more intense, to represent the nearing final battle. "Irreconciliably" is the closest the soundtrack comes to a hard rock jam and is certainly one of the most charismatic entries on the soundtrack. "Stronger" meanwhile enpowers with its jagged bass lines and orch hits, taking the soundtrack to its eccentric industrial climax in "God Hands" for the encounter with Akuma. Following a series of subsidiary themes for the various menu and ending screens, the soundtrack wraps up with a fairly lengthy voice collection intended for Japanese nostalgics only. The voice samples are lower fidelity than the largely well-synthesized music, though it's still quite impressive how many samples were incorporated into the still-limited cabinets of 1997.


Street Fighter EX's soundtrack is a good attempt to bring the series' music into the modern age. It is largely refreshing that Aihara, Saso, and Hosoe largely rejected the retro and pop feel of previous soundtracks of the series, in favour of a more cutting-edge and daring approach. Yet they still clearly understood that Street Fighter's music is most endearing because of its personality and melodies. There are better Street Fighter soundtracks, both thematically and stylistically, but this one was still a step in the right direction and is worth many relistens.

Overall Score: 7/10