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Tekken 2 Strike Fighting :: Review by Chris

Album Title Catalog No.
Tekken 2 Strike Fighting Vol. 1 NACL-1225
Tekken 2 Strike Fighting Vol. 2 NACL-1229


The PlayStation version of Tekken 2 is regarded as vastly superior to the Arcade version for several reasons. It offered multiple modes of gameplay, new character ending movies, numerous other upgrades, and a totally revamped score. The Tekken 2 Strike Fighting soundtracks are two continuous albums that feature all the music from the port. The majority of the soundtracks feature arrangements of Yoshie Arakawa and Yoshie Takayanagi's location themes from Tekken and character themes from Tekken 2 handled by seven Namco employees (namely Yoshie Arakawa, Nobuyoshi Sano, Hiroto Sasaki, Ayako Saso, Takayuki Aihara, Shinji Hosoe, and Keiichi Okabe). However, a new opening theme and multiple character ending themes were composed specifically for the title by Akira Nishizaki, Takashi Furukawa, and Hideaki Mitsui. How do the arrangements and compositions turn out?


The majority of the character themes on Tekken 2's PlayStation soundtrack are arrangements from the Tekken and Tekken 2 Arcade soundtracks. Many are quite orthodox arrangements, but that doesn't make them any less effective. Yoshimitsu's "The Head Shaker", for instance, required only some synth upgrades to meet the high quality production values of the soundtrack; the original was such a beautiful and fitting blend of Japanese instruments and electronic beats that more significant changes could have been dubious. Michelle Chang's "Nobody Catch Me" still captures her youthful character with infectious jazzy chord sequences and spunky melodies. This time, though, the clangy piano work is replaced by smooth synth pads and the melody sounds more punchy than ever. "More Vigorously", the theme of the kangaroo Roger and dinosaur Alex, might feature a few synth upgrades and a dramatic interlude; however, it's the original's samba beats that ensure it's still a novel delight in context.

There are quite a few character themes on the soundtrack that are transformative nonetheless. Baek Doo San's "Eastern Dance" won't be accessible to most fans, but this time is musically fascinating at least; the wild tribal rhythms of the original are blended with the even crazier electronic distortions of Hosoe and co. to astonishing effect. In stark contrast, "Morning Field" proves to be one of the most beautiful arrangements in and out of context; in order to demonstrate how Jun Kazama is at peace with nature, the sound team decided to slow down the original and add some new age vibes. There are plenty of other noteworthy character themes too; whether Nina Williams' cool-headed electro-jazz beats, Paul Phoenix's funky upbeat depiction, or King's torturous beat-fest, they're all classics that work wonderfully in context. A special mention should be given to "Be In the Mirror", an electro-acoustic composition used during the contrasting encounters with Angel and Devil. It's minimalistic, surreal, and, above all, beautiful.

The location-based themes taken from the original Tekken also make welcome reappearances here. Although a fusion of hardcore electronica, oriental voices, and operatic voices sounds peculiar in theory, the elements together make "Rhythm of China" far more colourful and balanced than the original. Antarctica's "Almost Frozen" is another of those classic themes that exhibits both an anthemic melody and an amazing pulse; the arrangement is of the standard one might expect from a professional electronic musician even if the icy and windy features are blatantly game-inspired. Venice's "Surprising Truth" is also massively enhanced by presumably Aihara's treatment; the metamorphosis from a brooding mediterranean dance into a triumphant orchestral passages manages to be simultaneously elegant yet dramatic. The team seem to really shine while dealing with other darker themes such as Greece's "March to the Columns", Chicago's "It Makes Me Higher", and the desert's "Here is The Point of No Return"; the subtle layering of rhythms and blending of forces is just so atmospheric in each of them.

Though an outsourced composition by Akira Nishizaki, Tekken 2's opening theme is actually short and unremarkable; the jazzy piano work and electronic grooves are decent, but the female vocals are little more than surreal murmurings and the electric guitar solo is a generic jazz fusion one. Perhaps for this reason Namco chose to open the first volume with the much more impacting industrial Jack-2 stage theme instead; although this and a few other choices will make little sense for those that have played the game, they make the albums much more balanced and interesting listening experiences. Fortunately, the staff roll theme "Landscape Under the Ghost - Kaminano" is a remarkable reflection of the outsourced composers' talents. Many will now reminisce about Yasunori Mitsuda's Xenogears score with the opening spiritual choral work while the exotic vocals in the second section are similar to the Dark Chronicle Premium Arrange. The composition becomes more expressive yet abstract with its development culminating in a deliciously dark organ interlude.

The numerous character ending themes for Tekken 2 are interspersed between the character and location themes elsewhere on the soundtrack. Though these are usually short, they at the very least convincingly underscore the scenes they are used in. Roger's jubilant "Hop-Hop-Hip!", Wang Jinrey's meditative "Believe", and Kazuya Mishima's moody "Guilty or Not Guilty" resolve the characters fittingly and are also stylistically continuous with their stage themes. Only a handful of themes are really noteworthy out of context. In particular, "Forest" is a stunning closure to the first volume its semi-operatic vocals and orchestral fluorishes, while "Devil!" and "Angel Rising" are very dramatic developments of Kazuya Mishima's storyline. The rest are mostly just unobstrusive brief interludes between the stage themes in the context of the soundtrack. A few can be distracting, though, such as the gimmicky "Late Night Show" and "Heat the Heart" or the sound effects laden "P.J. Walk" and "Iron Man". While the ending themes are probably the weakest aspect of the soundtrack, they're far more tolerable and fitting amidst the stage themes than those of other fighting soundtracks.


It is clear that Tekken 2 Strike Fighting is the pinnacle of early musical achievement for the Tekken series. The stage themes arranged for this soundtrack were full of melodic flair, rhythmical impetus, and stylistic ingenuity in their original versions. However, the Namco sound team has massively enhanced them with refined synth, electronic fluorishes, and plenty of creative ideas. Pretty much all of the stage themes are worthy of many repeated listens and are musical marvels. The new compositions for the soundtrack, aside a few such as "Landscape Under the Ghost", are mostly functional compositions that aren't particularly worth listening to on their own. However, they're presented in a surprisingly tolerable manner nonetheless. Though it'd be expensive to pick up both volumes of the soundtrack, it'll be worth it for those looking for a memorable and expertly styled score. It will additionally make purchasing early soundtracks in the series unnecessary. Aside a few presentation issues, this is a fantastic achievement.

Overall Score: 9/10