Two opponents enter the ring (or the street corner, or back alley. Why be picky?), only one leaves. The fighting genre is probably one of the most competitive scenes in gaming, if not the most competitive. I've been to a tournament or two, had some online matches but nothing as grand scale as something like EVO. Maybe someday. What's better than pounding the crap outta your opponent? Doing it to some sick beats. While I love me some Street Fighter, I've kept the number of tracks to that series to a minimum. Gotta show how diverse the genre is, ya know.
Tetsuo Kato (Arrange) - Fighting Layer (ARC)
Developed by Akira (the chaps behind the Street Fighter EX series) and released in 1998 only in Japan, Fighting Layer is a 3D fighting game I've never played for obvious reasons. Regrettably, I can't tell you much about it. I can, however, tell you that the music to this game is sensational. The score was co-written by Takayuki Aihara and Ayako Saso, known for their renowned work on the Street Fighter EX soundtracks. The original Tetsuo Kato is a great theme on its own, but this will be one of those times where I'm gonna have to say that the arrange version trumps it.
Sail Over the Storm - Soul Calibur (ARC, DC)
One of the first games I bought for my Dreamcast in the summer of 2001, Soul Calibur blew me away with its stunning visuals and deep fighting mechanics. If Donatello showed me that staffs could be good weapons, Kilik demonstrated just how deadly they could be. All of Soul Calibur's music is fantastic, but Sail Over the Storm is without question my favorite track from the game.
Cafeteria - TMNT: Tournament Fighters (SNES)
When Street Fighter II dominated arcades and home fighters in the early 1990s, everyone and their mother wanted a piece of the action, including Konami. Their response to Capcom's fighting cash cow? Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters. For crying out loud, there's even a jab at Street Fighter on the box art. As much as I love the Turtles, it didn't do much to make me forget about Ryu, Guile and the gang, but it was cool to see the green machines hashing it out in a fighter against Shredder and some others that sadly escape me. Since the game came from Konami, of course the music was awesome and to this day, I haven't met anyone that cannot say Cafeteria is awesome. Play this song during a cafeteria brawl and I guarantee it with be the best fight in the history of dinner brawls.
Guile Stage CPS II - Street Fighter II (ARC)
The fighting genre probably wouldn't have made so many leaps if not for Street Fighter II. Yeah, Capcom pretty much whores the series out these days, but there isn't a gamer that lived in the 1990s that doesn't look back on this game with nostalgia. Guile's theme is an audio masterpiece. I like a lot of versions of this theme, but the arcade CPS II incarnation is the best in my book. This song goes with anything. Anything. Just go to YouTube and type in "Guile's theme goes with everything" if you don't believe me.
Mr. Karate - Nettou King of Fighters '96 (GB)
What's this? King of Fighters? On the Game Boy? Surly you jest. No jesting here. Yes, there were a few King of Fighters games released on the Nintendo's brick. None of them made it outside of Japan so that's probably why few people know of these games' existence. Despite the limitations of the Game Boy hardware, there was some good music in these pocket sized King of Fighters games. Nettou King of Fighters '96 gave Mr. Karate, an quick paced, drum pounding boss theme. With a name and theme like those, I would certainly not wanna screw with that guy. If you played rom hack Rockman No Constancy and wondered what the source of that killer boss theme was, wonder no longer.
Kombat Tomb - Mortal Kombat II (SNES ver.)
Even with Mortal Kombat 9 being a smashing success (or Mortal Kombat as it's official called), many still contend that Mortal Kombat II is the best Kombat game. Like original 1992 Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat II was ported to just about everything you can imagine. I played both the SNES and Genesis versions and found myself like the SNES music more, even over the arcade original. Despite the inferior hardware, the audio sounds a bit more fleshed out to me on the SNES.
Blue Water Blue Sky - Guilty Gear X (ARC, DC, PS2)
Don't think a little girl carrying an anchor as a weapon is threatening? Think again. Think said girl will have some sweet and innocent theme as her background tune? Wrong again. Known for its rock soundtrack, May has one of the most well-loved themes in the Guilty Gear series. There have been a number of versions of Blue Water Blue Sky but I always find myself coming back to listen to the original.
Multi-Man Melee 1 - Super Smash Bros. Melee (GCN)
Is Melee a fighter or not? Don't really care. All I know is that its a fine game, one of the best on the GameCube and a fine example of how to do a sequel. Melee expanded upon the formula of the original Super Smash Bros. added a ton of unlockable (I never did get every single trophy) and just made everything bigger and better in every conceivable way. This track is a rock arrangement of Melee's Main Theme. Thankfully, this song is also in the excellent sequel, Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Urban Sight - Tobal No. 1 (PSone)
Tobal No. 1 came from a time when Square Enix did more than RPGs. Actually this baby came years before the two companies merged. Developed by DreamFactory, this was more ambitious than other fighters at the time. In addition to the standard fighting, there was a fully 3D Quest mode. It fared well in Japan but not so much in America. Contributors to the game's soundtrack, which covers a wide range of genres include Kenji Ito, Yoko Shimomura, and Noriko Matsueda to name a few. Character designs were done by Dragon Ball creator Akira Toriyama. Tobal 2 never saw a release outside of Japan, much to fan's annoyance.
Without Hesitation - Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution (ARC, PS2)
Virtua Fighter 4: Evolution is my favorite game in the Virtua Fighter series. With its incredibly deep three button fighting engine and a lengthy Quest mode the featured AI modeled after real Virtua Fighter players, the game offers something for everyone. The addition of Virtua Fighter 10th Anniversary was also a lovely bonus. This game taught me the joy of bashing heads as Pai and customizing your fighter's look, which in this game as I saw countless other fighters, was serious business.