Jahanzeb Khan
18 Nov, 2009

Sound Test #5

PALGN Feature | The King of Iron Beat.
A few months ago we listened to the music of Daisuke Ishiwatari, who composed some of the best hard rock music head in fighting games. When it comes to video game music, RPGs and adventure games get all the praise for best original scores and not many people even think about bringing up fighting game music. With the exception of a few classic Street Fighter II tracks, gamers generally do not discuss fighting game music in the same manner as they do for RPGs. Today, we will hear some music from arguably one of the greatest 3D fighting game series of all time, once proclaimed as the ‘God of Fighting’.


This month marks the home version release of Tekken 6 for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and so a lot of gamers are in Tekken mode. We are also celebrating the latest release of this acclaimed fighting game series, as we took a trip down memory lane earlier this month and looked back on the Tekken series and how it has evolved over the years. In this latest edition of Sound Test our main focus will be of course on the music that roared in the Tekken games.

Notable Composers

  • Go Shiina
  • Akitaka Toyama
  • Yoshie Arakawa
  • Yoshie Takayanagi

The early years

In the early years, Tekken games featured a unique and distinguishing sound track, unlike anything ever heard in a fighting game. The style of the music is similar to a RPG, as it sounds very epic and is also very diverse, varied and dramatic. The tracks feature a very complex arrangement of techno beats mixed with symphonic flair and some jazz. The stages in Tekken and Tekken 2 explore real world locations and this was something that most fighting games had at the time. The background music captures the essence of those locations nicely.

This is the kind of music one would normally hear in a RPG. The first Tekken game is undoubtedly outdated as a video game but the OST is still one of the best to have ever been composed for a fighting game. This was the style that prevailed in the first two Tekken games before a major change in Tekken 3.

This is the music that played in the Kyoto stage and as you can hear, it has that distinct sound that characterises Japanese music. An interesting mix of rhythmic beats with Japanese symphonic music.

While these tracks are meant to be location specific, some of these have become synonymous with the characters. The following is the theme of two of Tekken’s most popular characters and also the most popular couple, Kazuya Mishima and Jun Kazama.

The track is perfect for Jun Kazama, she was portrayed as a caring and loving person, who is pretty much responsible for all the good that Kazuya Mishima and Jin Kazama have. However, we all know how little of that good is left in them now. This uplifting music has a strong oriental vibe to it, along with some groovy beats.

Kazuya Mishima is everyone’s favourite anti hero. His theme is one of the darker tracks you can find in the Tekken games but still has some uplifting moments and plenty of oriental flair.

Back into the modern era of gaming and music

Tekken 3 was not only a major evolution in terms of gameplay and graphics but it also introduced a completely new style of music. While the soundtrack in the first two Tekken games was quite artistic and RPG like, the music of Tekken 3 was more aggressive, edgy and just plain cool. The music of Tekken and Tekken 2 is spectacular but Tekken 3 features the kind of adrenaline pumping music that is perfect for a fighting game. Guitars have a very profound presence in many of the tracks, and there are some examples below.

This guitar centric track is the theme of Jin Kazama, the track captures the overall style of music that prevailed in Tekken 3. This change in the style and presentation was indeed a welcome one.

When you see a character like ‘Law’ who is based on Bruce Lee, you would expect his theme music to sound like something from a traditional Bruce Lee movie. In Tekken 3 though, we hear something really fresh and awesome. It starts off with some killer bass riffs that really fires you up and the guitars and techno beats carry the song nicely.

Acid jazz and techno

Tekken 4 is a criminally underrated game, but we won’t go into that right now. The music in Tekken 4 was heavy on techno and acid jazz. The style was definitely unique and was essentially an evolution of the music that was introduced in Tekken Tag Tournament.

This track is a very soothing, relaxing tune and has a strong jazzy vibe.

This intoxicating and hypnotic track plays on the beach stage. It certainly is a very uplifting tune that captures the feel of being at a beautiful sunny beach. Nice use of keyboards in this one.

The best of all worlds combined

Tekken 5 and the recent Tekken 6 feature a style of music that literally combines all the styles that were featured in past Tekken games. The fusion is impressive and there are some truly mind blowing tracks here, but at times there is inconsistency as some of the tracks sound too weak.

Sounds like something from a Castlevania game.

Step 1: Listen to this awesome tune. Step 2: Get psyched up. Step 3: Run to store and buy Tekken 6.

Wrapping it up

Tekken has some fantastic music, say what you want about the lack of evolution in the Tekken series but you cannot overlook the evolution of the music style. Whether you are a long time Tekken fan who is already firing up Tekken 6 or a new comer who doesn’t care much about fighting games, we hope you all enjoyed our track selection.

Remember that time when you bought the PlayStation 2 at launch with Tekken Tag Tournament being your very first game? Remember how the CG intro and this music totally rocked your world?….Good times…

Related Content

Tekken 6 Review
17 Nov, 2009 Get ready for the next battle.
E3 2009: Tekken 6 Preview
05 Jun, 2009 We're Tekken a look at the next big fighting game.
Tekken: Dark Resurrection Review
07 Sep, 2006 Tekken it to the max.
4 years ago
Tekken music is awesome despite how subtle some tracks are.
4 years ago
Fallen Colony is my favourite, along with Anger of the Earth. Tekken 6 has some amazing tracks...Love em all. Nice article BTW!!
4 years ago
The first track could also be heard on Tekken 4.There was a stage on T4 that played random updated music from previous Tekkens.

About Tekken 4 being udnerrated; at first I didn't like Tekken 4.But in the end I loved the game because it has a summer feel to me.

I love thge airport theme from Tekken 4.
4 years ago
I have to admit, the Tekken music over the years has been evolving and progressing in interesting directions. But truth be told, I still prefer the Virtua Fighter beats.
4 years ago
I don't play VF so I wouldn't know how good the sounstracks are.
4 years ago
Great feature, as usual. Source material was a bit surprising though. I distinctly remember Paul/Brian's Tekken 3 themes the most. I also remember Ogre's Theme to be amazingly badarse.

Also, is there a particular direction you wnat to take this feature, such as in franchise or rythm?
4 years ago
ahh nice.. i need to get into the new ones since i havent played past tekken tag..
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