I love me some fighting games. I love me some music. I love me some fighting games music. With that in mind, I decided to go through my encyclopedic knowledge of fighting games through the decades and put together my ranking of best fighting game music tied to the protagonists of games. This will have some rules. It can't be generic stage music (I might do another one for stage themes because those do deserve some love). It has to be a protagonists theme. Teams are allowed if they're the hero team of the game. With that in mind, let's go!
10. Soul Edge: Mitsurugi - The Wind and Clouds
Kicking off our list is Mitsurugi's theme from back when the Soul series still gave each character a song and stage. Mitsurugi is arguably the main guy of Soul Edge (or at least he's on all the cover art), and his song is great. You fight in a field and the sense of wind sweeping through it thanks to this song is lovely. It's great, but not quite as good as my other picks.
9. Rival Schools - United by Fate: Batsu's Theme
I desperately wish Capcom would do another Rival Schools because I loved these games and thought they had every chance to be Capcom's proper answer to Tekken. Batsu's a little milquetoast and feels a lot like a Ryu clone, but he still has a great style and cool theme to go with him. This was the first theme I heard when I started Rival Schools and practiced characters and it will stay with me forever as a great theme to beat the crap out of other teens to in a classroom.
8. BlazBlue: Calamity Trigger: Ragna - Rebellion
When Arc System Works lost the rights to Guilty Gear for a while, BlazBlue came up in its place. I was already well-acquainted with how good Guilty Gear music could be, and this did not disappoint. Ragna's original Rebellion theme is so damn good and perfect for a moody anti-hero looking to thwart the world that's against him. It's just some straight up kick-in-your-teeth aggressive guitar goodness and I love it as the song for the game's main star.
7. Rage of the Dragons: Jimmy and Sonia - Dragon Blues
Rage of the Dragons is kind of a new crush for me when it comes to classic fighters. A game formed originally as a Double Dragon fighter where they couldn't get the rights, Rage of the Dragons is still an excellent fighter, and it's main protagonist theme has the distinction of being a hell of a fast jazz song. With Jimmy's role as a tough-as-nails private detective in Rage of the Dragons, it's a heck of a fit too.
6. Marvel Vs. Capcom - Captain America's Theme
This is a slight cheat only because I don't know who you consider the "star" of a Vs. Capcom game, but I feel Captain America and Captain Commando are good representatives of both Marvel and Capcom, respectively. Furthermore, Captain America's theme is just so dang good. The spirit, the brevity, the boldness. It's got that perfect electricity I would expect to feel when Caps busts onto the scene to save the day.
5. Garou: Mark of the Wolves: Rock Howard - Spread the Wings
I know Terry Bogard is right there, but I feel like Rock Howard is the true upstart hero of Garou and it really does feel like he was meant to take Terry's place like the passing of the torch. Rock also gets bonus points for his theme because it's not just good, but it also features a reference to another great song: Part of the melody at around 0:50 is the same as Robert Miles' 'Children'. And what a great use of it for a solid young brawler too.
4. Street Fighter 2: Ryu's Theme
I mean, how could I not? Ryu's theme is synonomous with fighting games. It's synonomous with moody protagonists too. This is probably one of the songs most gamers of the 80s and 90s first remembers hearing when they played a fighting game for the first time. And Capcom has done a wonderful job of remixing it over and over through the years. I wouldn't say it's the best song on the Street Fighter 2 soundtrack, but it is still an iconic one with which you can't go wrong.
3. Guilty Gear Xrd: Sol Badguy - Give Me a Break
Sol Badguy has a ton of great music in the Guilty Gear games. There isn't a single one that I can't get down with. However, the return of Guilty Gear after years gone in Xrd didn't just make for a good game. It was also a welcome back party, and Give Me a Break kicks down the door and flips you the bird like it belonged there and never left. That's Sol Badguy, and I freaking love him and this track.
2. King of Fighters '96: Hero Team - Esaka
Much like my love for Guilty Gear's Give Me a Break, Esaka comes in firing all cylinders. Much like my love for Ryu's theme, it is iconic to KOF fans. Kyo and company's theme is just so dang strong and vibrant. It has that sense of heroism to it and it's got the perfect amount of aggression in it to really get my blood pumped and make me want to go hard to the paint on an opponent.
1. Street Fighter 3: Third Strike: Alex and Ken - Jazzy NYC '99
First off, let's make sure we know the canon. Ryu isn't the main protagonist of Street Fighter 3. Alex is. I don't necessarily think that Alex is a great character. However, I will go to the mat to say that he and Ken have one of the best theme songs in all of gaming. I mean... Jazzy NYC '99 is also the song to which Daigo Umehara and Justin Wong created EVO Moment 37. If you claim to be a fighting game fan, but this one isn't burned into your memory banks, I don't know if I can trust you. Besides, it's just a really great mix of jazz and hip-hop that should make you feel like moving whether you like fighitng games or not.
And that caps off my list. What do you think? Brought back some memories? Anything you hadn't heard before? Did I miss any really good ones? These are my favs, but tell me yours in the comments!