Music to My Ears: Street Fighter IV

Okay, I finally have a recent game here. Sure, the original came out in 2009, but Street Fighter IV has continuously had updates (including ver. 2012 at the end of last year) to keep it fresh and balanced.

I’ve mentioned earlier in this series how Street Fighter II was the first game that got me interested in video game music almost 20 years ago. After we got through the 374 iterations of that game (Hyper Turbo Mega Ultra Super Championship Edition Flux Capacitor?), a new challenger appeared: Super Street Fighter II. With it came four new characters, some updated graphics and a few other features that would become series staples. It also brought a new tune for 9-year-old me to rock in the Sound Test menu: Cammy’s theme.

It certainly didn’t hurt that Cammy was, um, easy on the eyes (insert joke about “assets” here), or that she had by far the coolest-looking stage in the game. Sometimes I would set up versus mode in England for two players just to have that in the background instead of a boring menu to go with my music.

Street Fighter kinda faded to the background as I got older; although I played a decent amount of the Alpha series, I was one of those folks who never really clicked with Third Strike, and I stayed way the hell away from Street Fighter EX, that 3D abomination. When news finally broke about Street Fighter IV, I was only somewhat interested. It wasn’t until the game came out and surprised everyone that I jumped back in.

SFIV took most of the familiar character themes from earlier in the series and updated them to have a similar, more modern sound. It also expanded the roster to its second-biggest size ever, falling one character short of Street Fighter 3 Alpha. With the addition of Evil Ryu, Oni, Yun and Yang to Arcade Edition, there’s suddenly 39 different themes to choose from just for the characters themselves, let alone the background music for each stage and a handful of other assorted themes (like the catchy yet irritating song Indestructible, for example). Twenty years ago, that number of choices would have blown my child mind away.

So here are five of my picks for the best character themes from Street Fighter IV. We’re going to omit Ryu’s Theme and Cammy’s Theme because they’ve already been mentioned.

Ken’s Theme

Now, I’m not going to cheat and pick SFII characters for this entire list, but Ken’s theme is another one of my early favorites. I especially loved the version that was redone for the title theme in SFII’s HD Remix from a couple years ago. This version’s pretty solid as well. I play a variety of characters in Street Fighter, but Ken is probably my main. Once he differentiated himself from Ryu by adding fire to his Shoryuken, I was sold.

Crimson Viper’s Theme

Okay, let’s get to some new characters. C. Viper has essentially become the mascot of SFIV, at least out of the new folks. She brings a completely different playstyle to the game, and talented players have been able to take advantage of her fire and electricity to make her a frenetic, hard to predict opponent. Her theme has a great bass background before it hits the slowdown, with lyrics that may or may not be in English and may or may not include her name a bunch of times.

El Fuerte’s Theme

El Fuerte might be one of the most neglected members of the cast, but at least his music is catchy. I like that the soundtrack for SFIV manages to keep each individual theme’s identity (and in some cases, their country’s local flavor) while also maintaining a certain amount of consistency in how every track sounds. Fuerte is a gimmicky character, relegated to cooking on the sidelines in competitive play, yet his theme is very spicy. That’s right: spicy.

Seth’s Theme

If you’ve been following this series, you know I’m an absolute sucker for boss themes. Seth’s theme doubles as the music that plays after you beat him in the first round in arcade mode, and considering the number of times he kicked my ass while I was still learning the game, I got verrrrrry familiar with it. It’s a strong theme with a sense of urgency as the laboratory starts to crumble around you. As for Seth, I can’t even be that mad at him — he’s nowhere near as cheap as that son of a bitch Gill in Third Strike. Or Cyber Akuma.

Juri’s Theme

This is probably my favorite out of all the new themes. Juri was added in Super Street Fighter IV, and she’s basically a crazy woman with glowing eyes who gets a certain…thrill out of hurting people. The good news is that guys apparently like crazy chicks, so she’s sure to be popular. Her music captures her character perfectly — it alternates soft, slow parts with faster, driving sections, all with the occasional guttural scream in the background. The result: music that tells a story all by itself, and happens to be awesome in the process.

Music to My Ears covers soundtracks or individual songs from video games on a recurring basis, which is basically whenever Chris gets around to writing it. You can view all posts in the series by clicking here.

6 thoughts on “Music to My Ears: Street Fighter IV

  1. Nice post! I’ve never paid much attention to music in fighting games, so it’s nice to revisit SFIV through song. Seth’s theme, however, must have stuck subliminally because it brought back a few memories…frustrating, curse-inducing, controller-crushing memories.

    1. I hadn’t really thought about it, but you’re right: I have a ton of video game music, but most of it is not from fighting games. I think the only other soundtrack I have outside of Street Fighter is Soul Calibur (not counting Super Smash Brothers). I guess SF has always stuck with me.

  2. Much love to this post. It seems that amidst all the “Guile’s Theme Goes with Everything” madness, it gets lost that there are some pretty fantastic character themes in SFIV. Props for the inclusion of Juri’s theme. I heard her music before I actually got Super SFIV and I decided to main her based solely on that. Didn’t end up working out but it was a good idea at the time. Dudley’s theme is another one I find myself grooving out to.

  3. Hah, I was the same way. Before Super came out, Capcom released this trailer, and I thought both Cody and Juri’s theme were so hype:

    Capcom has screwed up a lot of stuff in the past few years, but their trailers for SFIV and SFxT were very good.

    1. I have to admit, the first time that song played we were like “what…the…hell.” But it slowly grew on me, and now it’s one of my favorite songs. It’s a shame it didn’t get to stick around for Super and AE.

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