Awesome Gaming Stuff: Fighting Game Vocal Songs

So as we’re all aware by this point, Street Fighter V is a thing that’s coming. From the bits of gameplay footage we’ve seen so far, there’s already a tremendous amount of speculation over what is and isn’t in the game. Are parries there? (Probably not.) Is guard crush there? (Definitely.) Are there noodle hats? (Very, very yes.)

SF fans can argue for days about what gameplay systems they do and don’t want to see in-game, but there’s one thing we can all agree on:

Ah yes, Indestructible, aka The Next Door in its Japanese-lyrics incarnation. It seemed like Capcom was trying to attach some big-name Japanese musical acts to its games for a while: Dragon’s Dogma had a theme by B’z (actually a remake of a much older song of theirs, which was one of the first J-rock songs I downloaded in my high school MP3 hoarding days), while May’n did a song for the sadly-never-to-see-Western-release EX Troopers. Indestructible was by EXILE, a massive, number-one-hit-producing band consisting of many, many dudes. (I hesitate to call them a “boy band” because the Western concept of the term is very different.) When the time came to release new upgrades for SFIV, however, Indestructible was not included – likely a casualty of a higher-up not wanting to fork over additional royalties to an S-tier Japanese band.

However, the EVO crew somehow managed to secure the rights (and pay the royalties) to use the song again in the 2014 Ultra SFIV Grand Finals intro sequence. Having been in the crowd, I can assure you that people went bonkers at those opening notes, and a massive sing-along ensued. (Of course I joined in, what kind of terrible person do you take me for?) See for yourself in this footage someone else got from the event:

As much as we love Indestructible, however, it’s one of a wide variety of vocal songs related to fighting games and fighting game characters, which I touched on a little bit in my look at Virtua Fighter Costomize Clip. It’s not even the first song by well-known Japanese singers to be used as a game’s opening theme. This doesn’t make it any less awesome, of course, but there are lots and lots of other goofy fun fighting game vocal songs out there that we all should sing along to. Let’s have a look at some!

Seeing as how I am a massive Sega nerd, the first thing that came to my mind when thinking about vocal fighting game intros was “Jaggy Love,” a single by D’Secrets, a group who does not seem to have a plethora of information about them online and who I kinda doubt even exists anymore. It’s a pretty cool intro, aside from that amazingly awkward and sudden cut to end the song. And honestly, the song ain’t that great, either, but there’s something very nostalgic about the mix of music and anime here to me.

An odd episode in the early/mid 32-bit era was Acclaim’s brief flirtation with localizing Japanese games for the US. They had some manner of deal with Taito for localizing stuff (the details of which remain a mystery), where they published several early Taito releases for the Saturn and Playstation – mostly shooters and Puzzle Bobble ports. When they decided to localize and release Psychic Force, they advertised it heavily amongst the growing anime fanbase of the mid-90s, emphasizing how they were doing stuff like retaining the original Japanese theme song, “On the Verge of Revival,” by Hironobu Kageyama. I have no idea how the game wound up doing for them, but given that the company’s localization efforts petered out after a few years, I’m guessing it didn’t sell Turok numbers. Well, at least we got No One Can Stop Mr. Domino before it all went south.

Anyway, here’s that Psychic Force intro.

So hey, remember when Darkstalkers released on PSOne? The original? It’s an odd case because not only was it not-so-secretly ported by Psygnosis instead of Capcom themselves, but it actually released after the sequel hit on Saturn. So, really, why did they bother? Probably a contractual obligation at that point, but I want to imagine it’s because they got a totally rad Eikichi Yazawa theme song, “Trouble Man,” to go along with it. (It’s also the ED for the North American Darkstalkers cartoon series we all prefer to not remember.)

And then there’s the all-time classic, the piece that, long before Indestructible hit the scene, was essentially the definitive vocal fighting game song. Does this really need an introduction?

There’s so much more to fighting game vocal themes than just intros, though! Can anyone who spent serious time with Street Fighter III Third Strike possibly forget these powerful beats that pounded the true importance of character selection into our consciousness? I think not!

Of course, Third Strike has a few other vocal-infused tracks (Beats in My Head immediately springs to mind), but they’re not terribly complex in terms of lyrics. Same story with Capcom vs. SNK 2’s much beloved True Love Making and the Marvel vs. Capcom 2 ride-taking anthem. As such, I decided to leave them out of this post. Sorry, guys!

But even if we’re not looking at MvC2, let’s not forget the vocal theme for Roll from MvC1! (It’s also in a couple of other games, like Rockman Battle & Chase and the Japanese version of Tatsunoko vs. Capcom.)

Do you remember Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer? If you do, you probably don’t want to admit it, but as much as we’d all like to forget those weirdly insectoid Masami Obari character designs, Gowcaizer was a thing that both existed and helped put a nail in Technos’s coffin. The Neo Geo CD version of the game, like many Neo CD titles, features remixed redbook tracks, some of which have audio added. The result is stuff like this:

And of course, beyond the in-game stuff, we have the plethora of material that is image and remix albums. It almost feels like cheating at this point to put these in, since they’re not technically in-game, but dammit, they’re spectacular and we’re going to listen to them!

Back in 2003, Capcom commissioned a bunch of well-known Japanese game composers to create new songs for a Street Fighter II remix album, with each musician getting a character’s BGM to work with. (Sadly, it was only the original cast of 12, so no potentially awesome Cammy theme remix.) Takenobu Mitsuyoshi got the honors of doing Ryu’s track to start off the album, and the result is a thing that’s absolutely amazing on so many levels.

I bought this CD on a whim on a trip back to Japan after seeing the names involved, and I distinctly remember waiting for the subway, popping this disc in, and hearing Mitsuyoshi’s voice come in for the first time, leading into the crazy, crazy trip that was the entire rest of the song. I knew right then that I had made a wise investment.

But Mitsuyoshi’s vocal stylings for fighting games don’t stop there! I brought this up briefly before, but he also sang an entire album of Virtua Fighter 3 music remixed with lyrics! Here’s one of my favorite tracks from the album, called Virtua Fighter 3 On The Vocal:

Even before that however, he did a vocal version of the theme for the very, very first Virtua Fighter, from the “B-Univ” CD:

Every game we’ve looked at so far has been a Japanese release, but after the Mortal Kombat album was released and did extremely well, every company with a decently received fighting game was looking to cash in on the fighting game inspired soundtrack craze. Among these was Warner/Atari, who had just released their stop-motion animated prehistoric fighter Primal Rage. The result was All The Rage, an incredible collection of songs about dinosaurs and monkey gods. By “incredible” I mean “hilarious.” And by “hilarious” I mean “holy shit I can’t believe how awful this is and that it actually got made somehow.”

Alas, the fighting game inspired music album boom in the west died almost as soon as it started. Shame too, I was looking forward to the Bloodstorm album with the song about warrior queen Mirage’s struggles in the harsh conditions of the Obsel Desert. Never to be…

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