Garou Densetsu WILD AMBITION Arrange Sound Trax
The Garou Densetsu Wild Ambition Arrange Sound Trax has somewhat confusing origins. It was conceived in the spirit of Fatal Fury's previous arranged albums that is, it features renditions of the arcade version's character themes with various elaborations and live performances. However, SNK later incorporated these tracks into the PlayStation version of the game, along with a number of new tracks. Let's see what's on offer...
For the most part, the album stays true to the original compositions, but greatly enhance them rich performances. As with the original, Terry Bogard's theme combines flashy saxophone leads, funky bass lines, and infectious chord sequences in a bold, macho way. But while the original was hindered by last-gen arcade synth, Yoshihiko Kitamura's arrangement features rich performances from the Neo Geo Music Performance Group. The saxophone parts bring so much energy and substance to the theme, while the supporting players add to the grit and volume. The end result sounds a little sleazy, but is otherwise a great match for the character. And whether treated as fighting background music or a stand-alone experience, this arranged rendition certainly satisfies.
Contrary to the flashy start, Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition is actually the moodiest soundtrack in the series. The fall from grace of Toji Sakada is captured well melancholic guitar parts and shakuhachi wails. Meanwhile Andy Bogard's rounds are underscored with an urbanised electro-orchestral soundscape, fleshed-out through comprehensive development and loops to the six minute mark. The themes for the Japanese characters, Joe Higashi and Mai Shiranui, boast wonderful bamboo flute, koto, and shamisen performances. These traditional instruments give the tracks a dark, wistful undertone that works magically in context. And this time round, mid-boss character Ryuji Yamazaki sounds truly mean and deceptive in a bluesy piece dominated by distorted guitars. All these emotional themes certainly fit the game's elaborate, cinematic storyline and inspire empathy with the characters.
But not all the arrangements necessarily improve on their originals. The themes for schoolgirls Tsugumi Sendo and Li Xiangfei were always a select taste, with their upbeat technopop focus. However, their arranged versions are so over-the-top and persistent that most will scream whenever she comes onscreen. The track name "Super Optimistic Chinatown" says it all... Thankfully, there are a couple of excellent tracks, namely Kim's "Attack Me!", Raiden's "Call from the Earth", and "Big Shot XL", that revisit SNK's uplifting and melodic rock sound. The sound team reserve the most blistering tracks to Billy Kane and Geese Howard. Both sound spectacular thanks to their overdriven guitar performances from Hori_Hori and the latter even has some speed metal influences.
While all these tracks were incorporated into the PlayStation score, the SNK sound team added numerous other pieces to the final score. These range from dark cinematic prologues, to rocking menu themes, to even a few bonus character themes; while the ridiculous theme for Duck King won't be easily missed, the hybridised arrangement of Mr. Karate's theme will be. That said, the concise, character-focused nature of this arranged album will still give a lot of fans what they desired. Compared to the full arranged score featured on the series' box set, it also offers fully looped and developed versions of the featured themes. While the characters take centre stage here, the short cinematic opening theme and a soothing lounge jazz closer also provide solid bookends to this release.
Fatal Fury: Wild Ambition's arranged album greatly enhances the sound of the arcade version. It preserves the concepts and characters of the original tracks, while transcending them with vibrant performances and new sections. This is the most cohesive presentation of the game's music and is a worthwhile stand-alone experience. However, those wishing for the additional tracks added to the PlayStation version should look into purchasing the series' box set instead.
Shinsekai Gakkyoku Zatsugidan
Jun Kajiwara: M1, 2, 9, 10, 11, 14
HORI_HORI (Shinsekai Gakkyoku Zatsugidan): M5, 6, 7, 8, 15
Sound comment from the liner notes:
Brother-Hige: 01, 04, 14
Jojouha Kitapy: 02*; 05**, 11** only
MIWA: 05, 12, 16
HORI_HORI: 06, 07, 08*/**
TATE_NORIO: 09**, 10
OKAN: 11, 13**
(*: confirmed arrangement)
(**: confirmed composition)
Wild Ambition (Opening Theme)
11th Street (Terry Bogard)
Ribbon of the Night (Andy Bogard)
The River (Joe Higashi)
Unexplored Village (Mai Shiranui)
The Battue (Geese Howard)
Attack Me! (Kim Kaphwan)
The Long Pole (Billy Kane)
Black Rose (Ryuji Yamazaki)
Call from the Earth (Raiden)
Male Spirit (Toji Sakata)
Super Optimistic Chinatown (Li XiangFei)
Cosmic Itch (Tsugumi Sendo)
Big Shot XL (boss Terry Bogard)
Soy Sauce for Geese ~End of the First Nightmare~ (boss Geese Howard)
Lost in Thought (Staff Roll)