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Street Fighter EX3 Original Soundtrack :: Review by Chris

Street Fighter EX3 Original Soundtrack Album Title: Street Fighter EX3 Original Soundtrack
Record Label: Suleputer
Catalog No.: CPCA-1042
Release Date: May 24, 2000
Purchase: Buy at eBay


After several years of crafting highly thematic stage themes for the Street Fighter EX franchise, Arika veterans Shinji Hosoe, Ayako Saso, and Takayuki Aihara decided to offer something very different for Street Fighter EX3. Perhaps they were inspired by the mixed reception of Street Fighter EX2, perhaps they simply wanted to explore their musicality on new technology, or perhaps they were influenced by the appointment of a new lead composer, Yasuhisa Watanabe. Either way, the result is the most unusual Street Fighter score to date...


The album opens in a dull way with two hard funk themes for the title and character select screens, neither of which have the charisma or energy of their predecessors. Thankfully, Yasuhisa Watanabe is soon able to offer his unique input to the series with the electro-jazz first stage theme; the slow sublime soundscapes here are so typical of Watanabe's style and, while atypical for the Street Fighter series, somehow seem to fit the particular stage. Surprisingly, the other composers often imitate this style on subsequent themes, ranging from Shinji Hosoe's bubbly synthfest "Add on Love Tree" to Takayuki Aihara's oriental violin-led "Ancient Zone". Even so-called climactic themes such as "Burry Home" take some time to really develop into something more penetrating and are more like the surreal themes one would from Tekken 2. Collectively, they ensure an altogether more atmospheric accompaniment to the game and headline a very unique Street Fighter soundtrack.

Thankfully, not all the soundtrack is this slow and laid-back. The team tend to reserve their most action-packed arrangements for the character themes and occasional some more familiar elements come out. Vega, for instance, receives a very dynamic portrayal in "Matador". Takayuki Aihara contrasts the masculine and feminine features of one of the series' most perplexing by blending dominant tango rhythms and softer piano grooves. It doesn't feature the melody most will be used to from Street Fighter II, but it's a solid portrayal nonetheless. Another welcome returnee is Blanka, who is portrayed with an authentic Brazilian-styled jazz theme in "BIRI-BIRI Red Heat". The endless contrasts in this one seem fitting for such a wild character and the synthesis is also impressive — combining excellently synthesised Tijuana brass and ethnic percussion with the occasional pre-recorded Spanish guitar solo.

Above all, the Street Fighter EX3 soundtrack represents a completely new direction for the series. Even the more upbeat tracks exhibit flavours and styles most won't be used to and the results can be very surprising. For example, Takayuki Aihara's "Iron Eyes" sounds like completely candypop and might be more fitting for a dating simulator, but at least seems to fit the personalities involved. Then there are very surprising attempts at funk and rock in tracks such as "Coldman Rosso", "Temptation Gun", and "Indra Bridge..." They generally have much more attitude and substance than their superficial predecessors and often have a somewhat progressive edge too. The vastly improved synthesis also helps to give these tracks the upper edge and, even today, they compare very well to most equivalently styled fighting themes. Ayako Saso spectacularly rounds off the soundtrack with a five minute final battle theme that builds from its soft electronic origins into a climactic rock anthem worthy of any victor.


The Street Fighter EX3 soundtrack contradicts all expectations for a Street Fighter score. It's not dominated by poppy melodies, it isn't oozing with personality, and it doesn't take listeners on a journey around the world. Instead, for the most part, it's about subtlety: portrayals of stages and characters in a more atmospheric and detailed way, offerings of themes that bloom over five minutes instead of cutting short after a 30 second versus match, and experiments in musical styles previously ignored or superficialised by the series. All these changes were enabled by the ambitious yearning from the four composers, coupled with the much more expansive synthesis and streaming capacity of Arcade machines in 2000. Not all listeners will like them and it's debatable that they even fit the game, but either way, it amounts to a fascinating and very different stand-alone experience for album consumers to pick up.

Overall Score: 8/10