Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Welcome to our weekly open thread for the discussion of gaming plans, nagging questions, and whatever else we feel like talking about. No matter what the topic, we invite everyone in the comments to tell us: What Are You Playing This Weekend?

I wish I had something Zelda-related to write about for this week’s open thread, but Twilight Princess HD is still a few weeks away. Mostly, I’ve been putting in time with Street Fighter V, and that’s not about to change this weekend. Even though I can count the number of online matches I’ve won on a single hand, I’m loving my time with the game. Getting into something this dense and arcane at the beginning of its lifespan is a fascinating experience. I’m not ready to deliver a full review quite yet, though. You can thank Capcom’s faulty servers for that.


But today, I wanted to take some time to appreciate the game’s soundtrack. When I’m playing, I’m usually too busy panicking to notice the music, but removed from that experience, Street Fighter V’s score, while not spectacular, is a weird, eclectic mishmash of styles and tones that’s perfectly in line with its diverse cast. A lot of it sounds like frantic Sega Genesis music, which is something that I can get behind. So I thought it would be fun to run down the themes of all 16 characters and deliver a quick personal ranking, because why not.

16. Ken

Look, I can appreciate a solid guitar cover of Ken’s Street Fighter II theme as much as the next person, but it’s an interpretation that’s been done to death. It’s about time Capcom finally caught up with the hundreds of people shredding this tune out on YouTube.

15. Chun-Li

Just your standard vaguely Chinese-sounding track that brings in elements of Chun-Li’s past themes. It’s pretty, but it’s no “China Vox.”


14. Cammy

There’s a good chance your feelings about this faithful remix of Cammy’s Street Fighter II theme comes down to your tolerance for wobble bass. Mine is not very high.


13. Nash

The first 30 seconds of this theme—a stormy, mournful intro that builds into a chugging, industrial rock tune—are a reflection of the broken and vengeful Charlie Nash himself.


12. Dhalsim

Along with all the sitar, flute, and hand drums you’d expect of a theme for this fire-breathing yoga master, Street Fighter V’s version has a surprisingly rocking rhythm track that adds some serious heat.


11. Rashid

The Middle Eastern tinges, especially in the intro, are a fantastic addition. This one loses me any time it ditches those and devolves into a straight-ahead electronic frenzy—but then that irresistible vocal line drops, and all is forgiven.


10. Laura

I can get down with the ramshackle early hip-hop vibe of this tune, but I’m way more partial to the Brazilian style of Laura’s “Hillside Plaza” stage theme.


9. Necalli

An appropriately dark theme for the closest thing Street Fighter V has to a “big bad” villain, the chanting and tribal drums are evocative of his origins in Aztec mythology and his interest in human sacrifice. Now if only I could figure out how to play him properly.


8. F.A.N.G.

The random elevator-music caliber bossa nova at the top of this track is hands-down the best song intro in the game. From there, this tune is just silky smooth. It might have been a good fit for our sexy video game songs playlist, but it’s an odd accompaniment for a character as goofy as F.A.N.G.


7. Birdie

Remember when I said these songs sound like they were written with the Sega Genesis in mind? Yeah, Birdie’s track takes some elements from his past themes and reworks them into an upbeat, chirpy banger that would be at home in any Sonic The Hedgehog game.


6. R. Mika

Kinetic and unpredictable like Rainbow Mika herself, after exploding onto the scene, this theme falls into a laidback groove and waits until you’ve let your guard down before dropkicking you right in the face.


5. M. Bison

Playing against someone who knows what they’re doing with M. Bison is a terrifying, confounding experience. The dictator is a domineering fighter, and this remix of his Street Fighter II theme is an equally overwhelming and unrelenting tune.


4. Ryu

Listen up, “Ken’s Theme.” This is how you reimagine a classic track around wailing guitars.


3. Zangief

In Street Fighter V, Zangief is obsessed with “muscle spirit,” and here, his oddly funky Street Fighter II theme has been reworked into what one has to imagine is the pure embodiment of that philosophy—brassy, emboldening, and sounding like it could be substituted into any given sports-movie training montage.


2. Vega

What more could you want out of a theme song for a Spanish madman who moves like a dancer, is obsessed with beauty, and throws roses at people?


1. Karin

The slick, soft funk of this cut is the perfect soundtrack to the graceful beating a good Karin player will give you. Those horns. That corny keyboard solo. The sexy wah-wah guitar—it’s more Persona 4 than Street Fighter, and it stands as an exceptional new entrant in the illustrious lineage of weird, jazzy songs from fighting games.


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