Retro Respawn – Street Fighter II Arcade Music Battle: CPS 1 Vs CPS 2

Yes, once again we return to a musically themed edition of “Retro Respawn” this week. I previously highlighted my top 10 favourite pieces of video game music from the fourth generation of console gaming. One of the pieces of music that found its way onto that list was that of Street Fighter II’s number one villain, M. (I like to think the “M” stands for “Montague”) Bison from the SNES release of the game.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I am a massive fan of pretty much every incarnation of Street Fighter II, and one main reason for that is the series’ incredible music. All I have to do is listen to just one of the instantly recognisable stage themes from this game and I’m immediately transported back to my youth, where I’d chuckle with unmitigated amusement as I’d watch a dainty Chinese lady with massive thighs punch an enormous Russian pro wrestler in the gut so hard that he puked up half his guts in grizzly living colour.

When Street Fighter II first found its way into the arcades, it was on The Capcom Power System arcade board, also known as the CPS. Eventually, Capcom would go on to create an updated and more powerful board, giving it the highly original name of the “CPS 2”, in which they released Super Street Fighter II.

As you can probably glean by the name, “Super” was supposed to be a slicker and more powerful release that made use of the CPS 2’s superior hardware. Indeed, the game was a roaring success and featured more colours and tighter game play. What it also contained was a new soundtrack, a new soundtrack that divided fans.

There are some tracks I prefer on the CPS 1 and vice versa, so I thought I’d put the stage themes of the original 12 fighter cast of SFII against each other to decide which game truly has the better music. In order to ensure we can have a winner, I will also include the bonus stage theme to each game so that we look at a total of 13 tracks.

So, in the words of Harry Hill, FFFFFIIIIIIGGGGGGHHHHTTTTTTTTTTT!!!

 

Track 1

Balrog

CPS 1

CPS 2

Tough one to start us out actually, as I quite like both of them. The CPS 1 version has certainly got a more satisfying crunch to it, but the CPS 2 has more of a glitzy Las Vegas “showbiz” feel to it that the CPS 1 version lacks. Tempo wise, there actually isn’t much of a difference between the two. I do like the CPS 2 has the “swoosh” sound of a jab in the background, that is a very nice touch. However, I do like the horn in the back of the CPS 1 version, along with what sounds like slot machines knocking around as well, so I’ll plump for that one, but it’s close.

Winner – CPS 1

So, the CPS 1 enjoys a 1-0 lead as we move onto the next theme.

 

Track 2

Blanka

CPS 1

CPS 2

Pretty easy one for me as I’ve never really liked the CPS 1 version of this one. It just feels scratchy and unsatisfying, whereas the CPS 2 version has a fuller feel to it along with an exceedingly satisfying base line and drum beat. CPS 1 does have a more chaotic feel to it, which compliments the character of Blanka well, but for me the CPS 2 version is lightyears ahead here.

Winner – CPS 2

So, that leaves us level at 1-1 as we move to the next round.

 

Track 3

Chun-Li

CPS 1

CPS 2

Ah, I love Chun-Li, she’s by far my favourite character to play as in SFII. I’m pretty lousy at the game in competition, but so long as I’m playing as good ol’ “Chunners”, I’m always in with a shout.

I’ve seen a lot of comments that the CPS 2 version of the song has a very evil tinge to it, and I’d have to agree. This is the theme of a much harsher Chun-Li, who will crack your face into smithereens long before she leaps up and down with a smile on her face. She may smile, but let’s be honest, it’s more of a sneer.

However, as deliciously evil sounding as the CPS 2 version is, for me nothing tops the CPS 1 version. It is possibly my favourite theme of any version of SFII, both arcade and console. I don’t know what it is. It’s got a pleasant tempo, but it’s also got a strong and tasteful core. The minute I hear it, I’m back on that street in China, watching people go past on bicycles while I get thoroughly kicked off the screen by a blue tornado of pain. I simply have to go CPS 1, regardless of how good the CPS 2 one is.

Winner – CPS 1

So, the CPS 1 has a narrow 2-1 lead as we move onwards to the next round.

 

Track 4

Dhalsim

CPS 1

CPS 2

Two very strong entrants again, with each bringing something to the table that’s unique.

The percussion on the CPS 1 is very pleasing and really adds to the feeling of mysticism that surrounds Dhalsim at every turn. There’s almost a quaintness to it that I really enjoy, and I don’t mean that to be patronising. Maybe whimsical would be a better choice of word, perhaps? It’s a delightful experience, nonetheless.

The CPS 2 version has less percussion but has more of a structured feel to it, owing mostly to the intro at the start before the theme really kicks in. There’s almost a Stone Roses quality to it in a strange way, in the sense that it’s very spacious with a noticeable echo.

Tough call this one is, but I think the CPS 2 version just edges it.

Winner – CPS 2

So, that leaves us even again at 2-2 as we move to the next theme.

 

Track 5

E. Honda

CPS 1

CPS 2

I really love the CPS 1 version of this. It’s got a real smoothness to it that I find very pleasing. It’s a theme tune that likes to take its time while not imposing upon itself either. It’s very enjoyable and I like it a lot. You hear it and you can picture that bathhouse almost instantly.

The CPS 2 version in comparison sounds a lot more regimented and, dare I say, even a bit sinister. It actually seems to be of worse audio quality to its predecessor, and it’s like a whiny emu is performing the vocal instrumental. Not a fan of this one at all really, especially when it’s put up against the pleasant and calming original.

CPS 1 takes this round easily.

Winner – CPS 1

So, that gives the CPS 1 the lead again at 3-2 as we near the halfway point in the competition.

 

Track 6

Guile

CPS 1

CPS 2

Now, I’m sure I don’t have to point out to all of you that both these themes go with everything, do I? Because they totally do, as does every version of this theme. But which one of these two is the better?

I do like how the CPS 2 has a more spacious quality to it that its predecessor lacks. Indeed, the CPS 2 version is a little more chilled out and stoic in general when put up against the CPS 1.

The CPS 1 definitely has a grit to it that the CPS 2 version lacks somewhat. It also has a much crunchier percussion which is very pleasing.

However, I’m going to have to go with the CPS 2 version, mainly because I have it on my iPod and it’s honestly one of the best songs to listen to in the gym. I fire it up, lift some weights, and tell other people to go home and be family men. Even the chicks!

Winner – CPS 2

So, we’re even again at 3-3 as we move into the second half of the competition.

 

Track 7

Ken

CPS 1

CPS 2

Oh, how I love the CPS 1 version of this. It’s almost perfect. Nothing sums up Ken’s relentless charm and charisma than this excellent track. I can see a barrel broken in two while people stand on a nearby boat taking pictures and hollering as two warriors do battle on the concrete of the dockside. Every second of this track oozes personality and class.

Sadly, the CPS 2 goes and ruins it by adding a far too intrusive horn that stomps over literally everything in its path in a most thoroughly unsatisfying manner. It’s a shame, as the beat isn’t bad and I like the overall tempo of the piece, but that horn just kills everything. It’s like an air raid siren going off in the middle of a smooth bit of jazz.

Winner – CPS 1

So, we’re at a 4-3 lead for the CPS 1 as we move onwards.

 

Track 8

M. Bison

CPS 1

CPS 2

Another easy win for the CPS 1 here, as the CPS 2 simply butchers the original track, leaving something in its place that lacks all of the original’s ominous weight and pomposity.

The CPS 2 version doesn’t even really sound like an M. Bison theme. It sounds more like something from a racing game’s bonus stage. It certainly doesn’t gear you up for a climactic fight with one of the world’s most despised villains. When this monstrosity hits, you might very well be forgiven for thinking you’ve put your coins into the wrong arcade cabinet!

Winner – CPS 1

So, the CPS 1 stretches its lead to 5-3, can the CPS 2 claw its way back into the fray?

 

Track 9

Ryu

CPS 1

CPS 2

Oh dear, that’d be “no”, then!

Winner – CPS 1

So, that puts the CPS 1 up by a massive margin of 6-3. The CPS 2 now needs a clean sweep of the following four tracks. The pressure is very much on!

 

Track 10

Sagat

CPS 1

CPS 2

We’re probably at my least favourite theme in the whole game here, so let’s see which of these I dislike the least.

I don’t know what it is about Sagat’s theme, but it’s just never grabbed me. Maybe it’s because he was by far the guy I had the most trouble with when I used to play the game? Bison was difficult, but you could overcome him with practice and blocking well. Sagat had both low and high fireballs, meaning you had to mix up blocking with ducking and jumping. If that wasn’t difficult enough, Sagat could also knock the ever loving coconut rice out of you at a moment’s notice with his famed “Tiger” Uppercut.

If that wasn’t bad enough, he’d then cackle at your broken carcass. Bastard!

I’ll go with the CPS 2 here, as I find it slightly more jovial than the CPS 1, and sometimes that counts for something.

Winner – CPS 2

So, the CPS 2 claws one back to make it 6-4. Can it pull another one back in the next round?

 

Track 11

Vega

CPS 1

CPS 2

There’s no doubt that the CPS 1 version of this theme is certainly punchier with a much higher tempo. However, what the CPS 2 has going for it is a much more operatic feel, which I think actually gels better with Vega’s Camp Nou sized ego (He’s definitely a Barcelona fan, our Vega. Defo. He probably cruises down the streets of Catalonia in the tightest shirt he can possibly find hoping to steal Shakira away while Gerard Pique isn’t looking).

Very close this one, as I do actually like both of them a great deal, but I’ll go with the CPS 2 because this is the sort of music I think Vega hears in his head when he’s slicing and dicing some unfortunate Real Madrid fan who has stumbled into the caged arena.

Winner – CPS 2

So, that puts us at 6-5 in favour of the CPS 1. Can the CPS 2 score an unlikely comeback? Well, the next one is surely to be the most difficult one for me to pick as both themes are excellent.

 

Track 12

Zangief

CPS 1

CPS 2

This one is incredibly hard as I like both of them for very different reasons.

To me, the CPS 1 theme is the one Zangers would have if he was a villain or “heel” wrestler. Its slow and deliberate tempo is that of a man who is up to no good. It’s ominous and menacing.

Meanwhile, the CPS 2 theme is what Zangers would have if he was a heroic “babyface” wrestler. It’s got a spring in its step, it’s exciting and high tempo. It’s the sort of music that would gee a crowd up and get them on their feet.

It really is a toughie, this one.

Do I go with Heel Zangers or Face Zangers?

Do I go with Good or Evil?

Can I pick both? (No Mike, you can’t!)

Oh well, in that case I’ll go with Babyface Zangief, if only because I find it funny to imagine him stomping down to the ring and slapping hands with the ringside fans at Madison Square Garden.

Winner – CPS 2

So, that leaves us all even at 6-6 as we enter the final “bonus” round!

 

Track 13

Bonus Round

CPS 1

CPS 2

Eurrgh, what a shame that after such a gallant fightback the CPS 2 should shoot itself in the foot in such a manner with this horrid bonus stage theme. Whereas the CPS 1 version is a catchy tune that slowly ups in tempo as the clock ticks away, the CPS 2 version is nothing but a mere cacophony of noise. Disappointing that after coming this far, the CPS 2 essentially “Chris Waddles” its last penalty.

Winner – CPS 1

Overall winner – The CPS 1 by a nail biting score of 7-6!

I hope you enjoyed this, please feel free to give your own opinions in the comments below!

Thanks for reading

Nil Satis, Nisi Optimum

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British, Evertonian and passionate about them there Video Games. Bit of a golden oldy these days weighing in at a pert 29 years of age. I'll be providing reviews, retro features, the odd rant and the occasional article on Pro Wrestling