[ShockWave is a monthly feature which highlights video game music and our favorite soundtracks, for the music lover in every gamer.]
Hello everyone and welcome to ShockWave, where we enjoy terrific music from the vast world of video games. The Street Fighter series is one of if not the single most influential series in the fighting genre. There are over a dozen Street Fighter games, the newest of which being Street Fighter X Tekken, which just launched earlier this month. While the series has always been revered for its technical fighting system and highly competitive fan base, musically speaking it has never been anything to write home about.
The very important exception to this is Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike, which sports a brilliantly diverse and masterfully crafted soundtrack.
- Album: Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike Original Soundtrack
- Genre: Hip-hop, techno, ambient, electronic, dance, fusion, instrumental
- Credits: Hideki Okugawa (Composer), John March (Remastering)
- Original release: 2000
- Price: Import Version: $200+
- Runtime: Over one and a half hours. Import version is over two hours long. Full tracklist here.
Standing distinct from all its siblings, Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike is an absolute joy to listen to. Composer Hideki Okugawa is responsible for all of the music in the Street Fighter III series (Street Fighter III, Street Fighter III: 2nd Impact, and Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike), although this comprises the bulk of his work on the SF series. The 3rd Strike soundtrack is wonderfully varied and unique. Its jazzy, urban sound is distinct and unusual for the genre.
Additionally, it is easy to enjoy outside of the game because of its instrumental nature and the hip-hop influences make it surprisingly modern. This stuff doesn’t age. Isolating the tracks to listen to with you all was very difficult because the album has a very consistent, universal quality to it. The songs all feel as though they belong together. It is much easier to suggest that you listen to the entire thing than to pick just a few, but I know I’ve made some great choices.
Unfortunately, the Street Fighter III: 3rd Strike OST is a highly sought after collector’s item and it has not been sold digitally. Therefore anyone looking to purchase it must be prepared to first locate a copy and then pay a tremendous amount for it. Sealed copies have been spotted for hundreds of dollars. However, the Japanese version of the soundtrack is notably less difficult to track down. Plus, it contains two discs and longer versions of the songs. Of course because it is still a collector’s item, and because you’d have to import it, you may wind up paying even more
[Goofy ninja Ibuki barely matches her theme song, Twilight. The song is quiet and sophisticated while Ibuki herself is a klutzy, loud-mouthed and disobedient student.]
The quiet but beautiful “Twilight“ starts things off nicely. Low synths ring beside the gorgeous Chinese flute and a rumbling bass rolls darkly beneath it all. Instantly a captivating groove is created. Stuttering percussions and more melodic synths join in, quickly building up to a break down just one minute in. The up-tempo percussions and beats fuse so well with the slow, hypnotic flute. The new synths are quiet and smooth, and they’re introduced without breaking the momentum. It seems both simple and complex at the same time. The bass gets changes up and drives the song forward slowly while the percussions snap wildly and quickly.
The flute is emphasized throughout, but bass and percussions take over after one and a half minutes into the song. A slight break down occurs and then intermittent synths began chiming lowly in the background. The bass line is simply incredible at this part. Then lighter, ringing synths sound faintly in the background, while the bass continues to cruise along wickedly. Then, all too quickly and without ever becoming repetitive, it’s over. This song is undeniably mellow and beautiful.
“Jazzy NYC” keeps the pace with its irresistible intro and groovy piano and horn. I won’t deny that this is my absolute favorite song on the disc. Light, melodic synths coast alongside the heavy bass and blaring horn. The percussions are low and sound fantastic beside the louder instruments. Then the bass kicks up and is fast and thumping. Soft strings can be heard singing lowly in the background. The piano is more pronounced just after a minute in and the song is carried by the bass, piano and horn.
Then after a bit of record scratching we’re introduced to a pleasant xylophone and the melodies are great. The horn and bass are so busy that the song definitely reminds you of a busy urban city. The quiet ‘whining’ synths sound so good, yet they are so faint and used so sparingly. My favorite part of the song (other than that beastly intro) is probably the last thirty seconds, where the piano, percussions and a high pitched synth take us home. Even though this one is a full three minutes long, it feels like it was over just too quickly.
[Q has one of the coolest theme songs because it is named directly after him. The fact that he never speaks makes his edgy, mysterious sounding theme song appropriate.]
“Q” takes off with its high pitched synths and thumping bass. A delightful clap is quickly added in and the dark melody and bass create a wonderfully upbeat sound. Later a piano comes in and low racing percussions race in the background. The bass is great and the main synth remains pronounced until two minutes in, when a guitar joins in and parties with the new low synths. Now the piano is the star and before long, faint, beautiful strings can be heard. How awesome is this for a fighting game?
Those are some awesome strings. The song is still charging forward at four minutes in when things quiet down and a new focus on the bass and percussions creates a pounding, electric sound. The clap returns and keeps your head nodding until the very last second of this song. The pulsating bass, chilling piano and cymbals all stop abruptly. This is how skydiving from a plane and landing in a pool filled with Jello shots must feel.
Rumbling bass, dramatic synths, low percussions and an intoxicating flute open “Killing Moon”. The flute sounds solemnly and beautifully throughout the beginning. The bass and percussions are fast but the flute is slow and lovely. The mixture of sounds here is simply wonderful. The song picks up after a short flute solo with darker background synths and frantic percussions. Quiet synths come in and back the flute and a little ways in, faint strings can be heard. It’s chilling but beautiful. The dominant flute slows down and leads into a slow break down, before picking up faster.
About two minutes in the low synths, bass and flute work perfectly together. Then things wind down a bit, focusing on the spooky synth. Before long the flute is back and it picks things back up. There is more repetition in this song than some of the others, but it is exciting to listen to throughout. It feels like the more serious older sibling of “Twilight”. “Killing Moon” is definitely an album standout. Excuse me while I rape the replay button.
The bouncy synth that opens this track is pretty addictive. A funky clap joins the thumping bass and low percussions. Strings are quickly introduced, and they combine with the clap to give things a decidedly dance feel. The break down one and half minutes in is made epic thanks to the strings and the rolling bass. New percussions join in and the music is fast and groovy. After a few more moments, some guy informs us that this is in fact a “Stupid dope mix”. I’ll have to agree with that.
When the music resumes a strange voice can be heard faintly saying something about a break down. Shortly after, a female vocalist begins to sing lightly over tribal drums and piano. Towards the end the vocals roll back, leaving the focus on the piano, the strings, the bass and the drums. Oh yeah, and that awesome weird voice in the back ground. “You Blow My Mind” has the tendency to leave one exhausted or slightly drained after listening from start to finish and I’m assuming that’s where the name comes from. The only action you feel is appropriate after listening to it is listening to it again.
[Killing Moon is a very appropriate theme song for Akuma. The dark sense of looming danger or threat really compliments his character.]
The SFIII:3rd Strike OST is a tasteful, varied, and exciting collection of tracks with plenty to enjoy. It has a delightfully urban, modern sound that makes it different from just about any other game soundtrack I’ve heard. Take just one listen to any of the songs here and you’ll wonder what Capcom was thinking when they didn’t make Okugawa the composer for all the newer Street Fighter games. The amount of different influences and cohesion in the album is remarkable. This music isn’t just unusually good for a Street Fighter game. It’s unusually good for a video game, period.