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Awesome Music / SNK

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SNK may be best known for their assembly line of cheap, sadistic bastards, but hey, at least the stellar soundtracks made the beatdown something to look forward to. Enjoy! All tropers are encouraged to listen to these songs ASAP.

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    Franchise-Wide Leitmotifs 
Yes. SNK has songs that are so omnipresent throughout the entirety of their games portfolio that they get their own section.


A line of songs that is not only associated heavily with Kyo Kusanagi and KOF as a franchise, but SNK themselves, being named after their headquarters in Osaka, Japan.

  • "ESAKA", the Japan Team theme from '94. The one that would start the whole tradition. So memorable that it was re-used for Capcom vs. SNK. The arranged version has a much more heroic feeling to it. It received a new arrangement in '98, fittingly called "ESAKA '98", used whenever the EX version of Kyo is on a team, which gives it a more dance-like feeling. It too received an arranged version, which is even more epic in scale.
  • Funky ESAKA, the Japan Team theme from '95, practically sounds like something you'd hear at a sports stadium. The arranged version lives up to the name more than the original version.
  • "ESAKA?". Out of all the Japan Team themes, the one from '96 is easily the most well-known. A vibrant melody compounded by strong drums and beautiful keyboard and guitar work that just screams "rock anthem". It's considered by many to be one of the most iconic songs in all of fighting games, and the SNK Sound Team's Magnum Opus.
    • The arranged version is by far the most fondly remembered, featuring a solo that can only be described as "epic".
    • The '98 version, despite a slightly slowed down pace, is by no means less powerful.
    • ESAKA? ~Acid Mix~. Repurposed as the theme for the Kyo clones, who both use Kyo's classic movesets and even voice clips, it naturally takes on techno influences. The arranged version, while no less awesome, also adds a sense of "wrongness" to accompany the fact that you're not dealing with the real Kyo Kusanagi, making use of radio samples and static.
    • The 2002 version, used as the theme for Kusanagi, yet another clone of Kyo's past self. 2003 brought it back with updated instrumentation, and then it got an arranged version which takes on a jazzier tone to it.
    • ESAKA!! from Unlimited Match gives the song a synth-rock feel. This rendition later made it into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate once Terry Bogard was released.
    • The XI version, used as the theme for NESTS-style Kyo, reinterprets the song with the kind of instrumentation used on XI, and comes off as closer to the Acid Mix as a result, befitting it being used for the '99-2001 era Kyo.
    • Despite not being fondly remembered, even XII got a remix.
  • '97 gives us the rocking ESAKA Forever. Unlike past examples, this song is actually used for Kyo himself, rather than his team, and thus is more representative of his cocky yet easygoing personality. The arranged version cranks the rocking up a notch and has some backing guitars and basslines that emulate the sound of sizzling flames. In '98, it's used for rival matches between Kyo and Iori.
  • Although not technically part of the ESAKA line, Tears from KOF '99 thematically incorporates ESAKA? into the backing portions of the song. As the name implies, it's a mellow but somber melody that reflects and encapsulates the circumstances behind and the results of Kyo's changes. The arranged version features some soul-rending riffs to further embody the song's name.
  • Goodbye ESAKA from 2000 is widely considered by many to be SNK's swan song to the fans before their first demise, and it certainly feels that way with a melody that starts out as reflective of happier times, before suddenly shifting into a more melancholy, climactic mood. The arranged version doesn't hold back on the somber mood of the song, especially with the song fading out at the end rather than having an actual ending, as though SNK themselves have vanished with the wind.
  • ESAKA Continues from XIII. A theme that perfectly lets you know that Kyo and his teammates are not about to let the conflict with Ash go unfinished. It returned for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
  • And last but not least, we have Yappari ESAKA from XIV. This song marks the triumphant return of SNK, and fittingly gives the feeling of a new beginning. It also later reappeared for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Meanwhile, Yappari ESAKA? is a full rearrangement of Kyo's most iconic theme, ESAKA?, using the instrumentation and tone of Yappari ESAKA, and it syncs up so perfectly you'd think it was the team's actual theme for the game. It's used when a match between Kyo and Iori in their Classic DLC outfits occurs. The best part is that in-game, if the theme playing beforehand was Yappari ESAKA, it will transition seamlessly and dynamically into the remix.

Psycho Soldier

  • The main theme of the titular game, which was notable for featuring down-sampled vocals within the arcade sound chip at the time. It was later repurposed as the main theme of Athena Asamiya in KOF.
    • The original version had two different regional versions for Japan (with vocals from Kaori Shimizu) and overseas. There was also a studio version, also recorded by Shimizu, that was only available via a cassette tape in Japan that was packaged with the NES version of the game.
    • Psycho Soldier (KOF Version), the theme of the Psycho Soldier Team in KOF '94. While the original game version lacks vocals, the arranged version has the lyrics from the original song performed by Reiko Fukui, Athena's voice actress at the time.
    • Psycho Soldier Remix '96 gives the song a '90s dance mix flavor. The arranged version once again features vocals, this time from Atehna's '96 voice actress Tamao Satoh.
    • Psycho Soldier Remix '97, on the other hand, decides to go with J-Pop influences. The arranged version really shows off the pop influences, and it's especially reflected in the vocals from Yukina Kurisu, Athena's '97 voice actress.
    • It came back in 2002, this time with a more rock-themed instrumentation, and ended up getting rearranged for Unlimited Match as Psycho Soldier ~Super Chinese Remix~ in another dance mix style with Chinese elements incorporated akin to the team's '95 theme.
    • With the release of the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection, a new version of the song was included sung by Athena's current voice actress, Haruna Ikazawa. It even takes a section from the English version.

Stormy Saxophone

A line of songs associated heavily with Iori Yagami. As their name implies, they are all jazz songs that always incorporate heavy usage of the saxophone.

  • Stormy Saxophone, the one that started it all. A groovy number that, while mellow, carries an underlying fire within. The arranged version cranks the jazz Up to Eleven, adding powerful drums and a breathtaking jazz flute solo.
    • It received a rearrangement in '98, called Stormy Saxophone '98, and that version got its own rearrangement which has a more funky feeling to it. Both are used when fighting Iori as the first character on a team that doesn't have Vice or Mature on it.
    • It returned again in KOF XI, and in KOF XIV for whenever Iori faces Kyo while both are in their Classic DLC costumes.
  • Stormy Saxophone 2, by far the most recognized one in the series, and it's easy to see why. It expands on the foundation set by the first, and really cuts loose with the saxophone.
    • The arranged version is the most recognizable version, incorporating rock influences and doing the original version justice.
    • The '98 version, which features updated instrumentation. and the 2002 version, which comes the closest to sounding like the arranged version.
    • It returend in XIII as the theme of Iori With the Power of Flames, sounding much more subdued.
  • Cool Jam ~Stormy Saxophone 3~. As its name implies, it's a bit more laid back than the previous entries in the series, as if to show that there is so much more to Iori's character beyond his hatred and rivalry towards Kyo. It received a remastered version in '98 which added new instrumentation.
    • The arranged version, which gives it a much more funky feeling and featuress even more blazing-hot saxophone licks.
    • Cool Jam 2 serves as a sequel to the original and fully cements itself as part of a separate sub-series while staying true to the Stormy Saxophone roots. The arranged version adds even more funk.
  • Much like Kyo, Iori gets a theme in '99 that while technically not part of the Stormy Saxophone line of songs, still prominently features nods to them in its melody. Sadistic Eyes lets the players know that even though he's not center stage anymore, Iori will always be a part of KOF and his destiny will always be intertwined with Kyo's, as the theme surprisingly goes together very well with Kyo's own theme. The arranged version cranks up the rock and jazz aspects Up to Eleven.
  • Stormy Scream ~Stormy Saxophone 4~, the final entry in the series before SNK went bankrupt. It combines the feel of all the previous iterations to send Iori's legacy off with a blaze of glory. The arranged version follows suit, itself taking cues from the previous arranged versions of the older themes.
  • Stormy Saxophone 5 serves as a Call-Back to Stormy Saxophone 2, as Iori has reunited with Mature and Vice, and shows that while Iori may have lost his flames, he has not lost his edge.
  • And finally, Saxophone Under the Moon from XIV. A triumphant return to form from the original composers of SNK and highlights Iori himself moving forward into a new era.
  • For Iori-ahem, Miss X's appearance in SNK Heroines, Stormy Saxophone Under The Moon. A medley featuring all previous iterations of the series.

For Geese

The theme of Geese Howard, and one of the most iconic series of boss themes in fighting game history.

  • A Kiss for Geese, the very first theme for SNK's iconic Final Boss. Pure, unadulterated rock from beginning to end that lets you know that you are in for the fight of your life.
    • The arranged version from the Image Album is a unique club-style arrangement that precedes the Cyber Edit by several years.
    • A Kiss for Geese -Cyber Edit- turns the song into a menacing, distorted techno remix that almost feels incomplete, reflecting Geese's younger self lacking the experience he would later gain by killing Jeff Bogard and attaining the Jin Scrolls. The arranged version sounds like something you'd hear at a live DJ performance. It was eventually brought back in KOF XIV as the theme for Ryo vs. Geese, combining elements from both the original and arranged versions.
    • Kissed by Geese serves as the 2nd round theme of Geese in Fatal Fury 3 and Real Bout Fatal Fury. It carries a sense of dread, but also decisiveness to it, as this is Geese's final battle in Fatal Fury canon before he dies for good. It actually received 2 arranged versions. One in Fatal Fury 3 that signifies Geese's grand canonical return, and another in Real Bout Fatal Fury that has a much more climactic feeling, featuring a wickedly distorted bassline.
    • One More Kiss for Geese from Maximum Impact manages to combine both aspects of "A Kiss for Geese" and "Soy Sauce for Geese" to create an absolutely epic fusion of hard rock and Japanese instruments.
  • Soy Sauce for Geese. The most iconic version of Geese's theme, and one that marked a completely unexpected event - him coming Back from the Dead. This single theme fully encompasses who Geese is as a character - an unrepentantly evil bastard and formidable warrior with his own personal code of pride and honor. It's so iconic that they remastered it as the theme of Nightmare Geese in Real Bout Special and again as Soy Sauce for Geese with Orchestra Hit for Real Bout 2 and King of Fighters '98 Ultimate Match as the theme of EX Geese, fittingly showing that even in death, Geese's very legacy is enough to haunt the cast, and by extension, you.
    • The Fatal Fury Special arranged version, the first of many, takes on a feel very similar to that of Samurai Shodown, featuring a blend of traditional Japanese instruments in addition to rocking guitars.
    • The Real Bout Fatal Fury Special and 2 arranged version, also used in '98 Ultimate Match as the arranged theme of EX Geese, offers a drastically different take on the song. One that is suitably more fitting for Nightmare Geese. It forgoes the Japanese instruments and is instead a heavy metal number with a very dark, imposing tone and hauntingly chilling guitar riffs. It almost gives the impression that it's a funeral dirge and final tribute to Geese.

    The King of Fighters 
The King of Fighters '94

  • "Jungle Bouncer", the theme of the Ikari Warriors Team, is almost a note-for-note recreation of "Surprise! You're Dead!" by Faith No More. The arranged version is much more overt about the nod. It also got a rearrangement in 2002.
  • "Hey!", the theme of the Women Fighters Team. An upbeat, high energy song that captures Yuri, Mai, and King's personalities perfectly. The arranged version gives a jazzier, more party-esque feeling to the theme. An updated arrangement appears in '98 as a special theme for when someone has picked the '94 version of the Women Fighters Team.
  • "Dragon & Tiger Fist", the theme of the Art of Fighting Team, screams "intense martial arts legacy", a trend that would continue for years to come. The arranged version adds even more intensity to it.
  • "Slum No. 5", the theme of the American Sports Team. A purely funky beat that brings plenty of energy to the table. The arranged version feels even more jazzy.
  • "Napolitan Blues", an urban-style remix of "Pasta", Andy Bogard's theme from Fatal Fury 2, which is fitting because the area the Fatal Fury Team is representing is Italy. The arranged version makes the urban elements more subdied and brings the Italian elements to the forefront once more.
  • "Fear", the theme of the Korea Team. Befitting Kim's idea of taking in two criminals as his disciples, this theme has a whimsical, but still unsettling feel to it, letting you know that while Chang and Choi may be oddballs, they are still no less dangerous. The arranged version forgoes the unsettling feeling altogether and instead is more lighthearted.
  • Duel R&D, the first theme of Rugal Bernstein. Pure, menacing evil to the very core. The arranged version is even more subdued, and sounds more like something you'd hear when infiltrating a base. It receives a rearrangement in '95 called Crying R - Sorrowful D, and also has an arranged version which remains unreleased on any of the official soundtracks.
  • Showdown R&D, the main theme of Rugal Bernstein. One of the most infamous boss songs in fighting game history, because you will be hearing it a LOT as Rugal reveals his true power and proceeds to utterly kick your ass to Hell and back, so you may as well learn to enjoy the pain of being hit by Genocide Cutter. The arranged version has more of a dance-mix feeling to it. It is such an iconic theme for Rugal that it is one of the most remixed songs in the entire series. It came back in '98, under the name XXX, with an even more menacing feel to it with creepy static in the background. The arranged version outright sounds like a wrestling promo. It returned once more in 2002: Unlimited Match as Unlimited R.

The King of Fighters '95

  • Prisoner, the Korea Team theme. By this point, it seems Kim's rehabilitation is starting to kick in for Chang and Choi, as the theme is more whimsical than that of its predecessor, even the arranged version
  • Desert Requiem, Easily one of the most memorable themes of the Ikari Warriors Team, given that the SNK Sound Team has continually had it remixed over the course of the series' history, and it even serves as the theme when Heidern, Ralf, and Clark are on the same team in Ultimate Match. The arranged version is pure heavy metal and pulls no punches with its hard-hitting drums. Desert Requiem ~Operation01UM~ has more of a focus on the "desert" aspect, with Middle Eastern instruments thrown in. Desert Requiem -KOF XIV ver.- fits more in line with Heidern himself, as it's his theme when fought as the first member of a team in XIV, and has more of a commanding tone to it.
  • Shuddering Gong is a particular standout from the rest of the Psycho Soldier Team's themes, as it's the only one that does not follow the pop genre motif, instead focusing on their Chinese representation. The arranged version has a more contemporary feel to it, adding in a funky bassline. It ended up rearranged in '98 as Tremble! Shuddering Gong, now taking cues from the '95 arranged version and adding rock elements.
  • Club-M ~Flute in the Blue Sky~. Not only is it a solid theme that was brought back in Ultimate Match when using the EX versions of Terry, Andy, and Joe on the same team, but in-game it's also a case of the music being perfectly timed for when the fight actually begins. The arranged version is softer in tone and more fitting for the environment of the stage.
  • Dragon & Tiger Fist ~Shaking a Man's Heart~ begins the trend of adding funk elements to the Art of Fighting Team themes. The arranged version adds some Japanese elements to it.
  • Ground-Creeping Bass is pure jazz, befitting it being the music for King's bar. It also ends up used as the theme for fighting the EX version fo Yuri, Mai, and King in Ultimate Match. The arranged version has a more techno feel to it, more suitable for a club.
  • HAL, Bass, and Melody, the theme of Saisyu Kusanagi. An intimidating theme for the father of series protagonist Kyo. It is littered with elements from Duel R&D, reflecting Saisyu being brainwashed by Rugal. The arranged version has more of a techno influence and more overt references to Duel R&D when the pitch shifts to match it.
  • Guitar, Omega, and Rugal, the theme of Omega Rugal. A fitting theme for the final battle against Rugal, with pulse-pounding drums and a sense of decisiveness to it. The arranged version is more of a dance mix than anything, and contains a familiar sound sample to fans of Jet Set Radio.
  • In the console versions of the game, players receive a special reward for completing the game with the Psycho Soldier Team. Instead of the standard credits across a black background, the three of them are seen in the background performing a song called My Love ~Uplifting My Courage~, with vocals from Athena (Moe Nagasaki). The song returns in the console versions of Ultimate Match as the theme of Athena vs. Kensou.

The King of Fighters '96

  • Rumbling on the City. One of the most memorable themes of the Ikari Warriors Team, and the start of their themes becoming more energetic to reflect the addition of Leona. The arranged version has more distinctive and melodic guitar solos than its arcade version counterpart. The '98 version updates the original with better instrumentation.
  • Seoul Road. As if to showcase the Character Development of Chang and Choi under Kim's tutelage, their team themes begin to take on a more heroic vibe starting here, with a song that screams "Evil is unforgivable!". The arranged version is pure rock, which Kim's themes had begun to exhibit starting with Real Bout Fatal Fury. XIV brought it back as the theme of Kim vs. Chang & Choi, having taken on a slightly more sorrowful tone showing Kim's disappointment that his two disciples have seemingly gone back to a life of crime.
  • Longhorn Beetle. Reflecting Yuri's addition to the team in place of Takuma, the Art of Fighting Team theme now sounds much more lively. The arranged version is jazzier and has more western influences.
  • Get'n Up. With the addition of Kasumi Todoh, the Women Fighters' Team theme now takes cues from Art of Fighting 3's jazz and house-themed soundtrack. The arranged version sounds like something befitting an extravagant night on the town, which perfectly suits the stage being a restaurant at the top of a skyscraper.
  • Dust Man. A slow, enigmatic beat with an undeniably urban feel to it. A perfect fit for the deadly crime boss and pimp that is Mr. Big. The arranged version sounds like something you'd hear in a survival horror game, with creepy bells and heavy, distorted breathing noises.
  • Fairy. A powerful yet graceful melody that perfectly captures Chizuru Kagura's character and gives a sense of finality to the tournament itself. The arranged version, however, manages to one-up the original by giving it the same energy as "ESAKA?" and turning it into a powerful rock track that is fondly remembered and praised by many as one of the best tracks in KOF. It would go on the be rearranged in '98. It returns in 2003 as Sacredness ~ Fairy, used for as the theme for both Chizuru and Maki Kagura.
  • Trash Head, the theme of Goenitz. A grandiose, menacing theme befitting of the mastermind behind the events of the Orochi Saga. And you'll be hearing it a lot as you try and dodge his onslaught of summoned tornadoes. The arranged version sounds like a triumphant military march and brilliantly utilizes distortions to reflect Goenitz's wind element. It returns in Unlimited Match as Trash Head ~Spring Has Come~ with a more symphonic rock flavor, befitting Goenitz's nature as a priest.
  • Completing the game with the Japan Team has Self as the ending theme, and it overtakes the credits theme in the same manner as My Love from '95. This particular version of the song, however, is less significant than its arranged version, called Setting Sun & Moon, which is an Image Song sung by both Kyo (Masahiro Nonaka) and Iori (Kunihiko Yasui) that gives a somber, but meaningful glimpse into their complicated rivalry.

To Be Sorted

  • The Origin of Mind, for Orochi himself. Trippy, ominous, oddly serene, and hard to identify. It fits Orochi completely. The arranged version has almost an Arabian sound to it, then throws in some synthesisers and killer guitars.
  • Tears and Sadistic Eyes are among two of the best boss themes in '99, used for the two "hidden" final bosses, Kyo Kusanagi and Iori Yagami. Interestingly, when superimposed, their respective tones fit each other perfectly, and seem to assimilate and even complete each other into something even more epic (if loud). Ladies, make of that what you will.
  • Krizalid and his theme Dear Falling Angel from '99, sounds like the distilled essence of pure technological awesome. This is the arranged version.
    • Also worth mentioning in '99 is the K' Team's Theme KD-0079. What a way to open up with a new hero for the saga.
    • This is the arranged version and this is supposedly the original arranged version of KD-0079. Holy... Both were cranked Up to Eleven with Cutting Edge and KD-0079+ in Unlimited Match.
    • KD-0079 eventually got remixed for KOF XIV.
  • Slasher Zero, for Clone Zero in 2000. Nearly all percussion and of an impossible-to-identify musical genre, it's one of the darkest themes in the series.
    • The arranged version features a very Indian-ish tune near the end of the song.
    • On the subject of Zero, both the clone and the original were given pretty slick tunes in 2002: Unlimited Match. Original Zero's theme is Testament of N.E.S.T.S., an imperialistic march that has a hint of undying duty and sadness while Clone Zero was given Dark Gravitation, a song that has split some fans on whether or not it's better than "Slasher Zero" (a song that was heralded as "pure evil in audio form".)
  • An Improvised Concerto, for Magaki. As classical piano, it's surprisingly subdued, but no less awesome.
  • The King of Fighters 2002: Unlimited Match made up for 2001 and 2002's rather poor soundtracks with a new soundtrack, and oh, what a difference it makes. It also gives Kula Diamond a long due deserved song (since the wonderful Ice Place) that is actually kickass. Ice Place would get a remix in XIV and plays when Kula and Angel face each other.
  • The King of Fighters 2000, essentially the old SNK's swan song, has an appropriately awesome soundtrack. Nowhere is this exemplified more than in Kyo's theme, the appropriately titled Goodbye Esaka. You can pretty much feel all the emotions of SNK's (brief) demise.
    • The remix for XIII is nothing to sneeze at either.
    • The rest of the Esaka series is no slouch in terms of amazing muscial direction either. First up was Esaka in The King of Fighters '94. While Funky Esaka is usually passed over due to Soundtrack Dissonance, Esaka? in '96 is one of the most notable (if not the most notable) tracks in the series and returned as the Japan team's theme in '98 (also give a listen to the '96 arrange version of the theme). In fact, it's so popular that it was reused several times over the course of the series: first in '99 for his clones Kyo-1 and Kyo-2 as Esaka ~Acid Mix~, as a part of the real Kyo's theme in the same game, again for his clone/evil magical doppelganger Kusanagi's theme in 2002 (Esaka '02) and 2003 (Esaka '03), as two remixes for EX Kyo in XI, and as Esaka!! in 2002: Unlimited Match. Finally, Esaka Forever in '97 memorably brought the Orochi Saga (and Kyo's stint as protagonist) to its fated conclusion.
    • XII has its own version as a bonus soundtrack.
    • In XIV, Yappari Esaka serves as Team Japan's theme. And just when you thought it couldn't get any better by taking cues from the original "Esaka?" from '96, we have now come full circle. Yappari Esaka? is a full remix of the original song done completely in the style of the newer version.
  • At the other end of the spectrum are Iori Yagami's jazz-heavy themes with screaming saxophones, the Arashi no Saxophone (that's "Stormy Saxophone" for those who don't know Japanese) series: It started in The King of Fighters '95 with Arashi no Saxophone (which was popular enough to be rearranged in KOF '98 and again in XI), then continued with Arashi no Saxophone 2 in '96 (ditto in 2002 and XIII as EX Iori ), Cool Jam (Arashi no Saxophone 3) in '97, Stormy Scream (Arashi no Saxophone 4) in 2000, and Cool Jam 2 in 2003, then finally XIII gives us Arashi no Saxophone 5. For the new story arc starting in XIV, the Yagami Team gets Saxophone Under the Moon as their theme song. The original Stormy Saxophone eventually got a remix in KOF XIV, fittingly as the rival theme between Kyo and Iori with their classic DLC outfits on.
  • Whenever Benimaru and/or Shingo end up on a team without Kyo, their themes tend to rival (or even surpass) his themes in the same game. See Still Green in KOF '97, Inner Shade in 2000, Joyrider in 2003, and Asia Sangokudomei (Triple Alliance of Asia) in 2002: Unlimited Match.
  • If any of Kim's themes have the word "Seoul" in them, that song is usually guaranteed to be awesome. It began with Seoul ni Ikou! (Let's Go to Seoul!) in Fatal Fury 2/Fatal Fury Special. Then came Seoul Town in Real Bout Fatal Fury/KOF '98 (the '98 version was bashed to the point that the music team one-upped the song into Seoul Town ~Ver. Justice in KOF 2002: Unlimited Match). Next was Seoul Road in KOF '96. Seoul'ssu followed in Real Bout Fatal Fury Special. Finally, Seoul Love in KOF 2003 rounds out the series.
  • Fairy, Chizuru's theme from KOF '96 and its arranged version, as well as Sacredness ~ Fairy from KOF 2003. Rock and gospel have never sounded so great together.
  • London March, Billy's theme from KOF '97 (and a majority of Billy's other appearances) also sounds like it'd go hand-in-hand with Guilty Gear (the arranged version even more so.) N.D.R., his theme from Real Bout Fatal Fury, is also rocking, and the arranged version from KOF '98 throws synthesisers into the mix.
  • In Spite Of One's Age, the theme of the Oyaji/Master Team from KOF '98. And if you thought that was good, wait until you hear Ver. Immortal from 2002: Unlimited Match.
  • Psycho Soldier K.O.F Remix from KOF '94. It's a catchy and memorable J-Pop/J-Rock song. The OST rendition from KoF '96 pumps up the bass!
  • In a series filled to the brim with rock, jazz, and pop, Slam No. 5 (or is it Slum No. 5?) from KOF '94 stands out as a cool hip-hop track. Also, make sure to catch the '98 version.
  • K' seems to have his own string of pure, unadulterated awesome. Aside from the aforementioned "KD-0079", there's KD-0084 in 2000, KD in 2003, and KDD-0075 in XI.
  • New Order, Rinrin, and Secret Circumstances, all from XI. The first is a essentially a fusion of "Esaka" and "Arashi no Saxophone"; the second is jazzy; the last one sounds like the score for the next James Bond. A remix of New Order plays as Kyo and Iori's Fated Battle Theme while Vanessa would get a remix of Secret Circumstances in XIV.
  • The Ikari Team has some rocking tunes as well. See Jungle Bouncer from '94, Desert Requiem from '95 (Remixed for 2002 UM), Rumbling on the City from '96, W.W.III from '99, The Trooper from 2000, and Inside Skinny from 2003, and Smell of Gunpowder from XI. W.W.III eventually got a remix for KOF XIV, as did Desert Requiem.
  • The very original IKARI theme from the classic Ikari Warriors got a remix after decades since its debut. Surprisingly, it never got an official remix till XIV rolled in, raising a greater feeling of nostalgia now that it has been brought back. Sadly, it only plays when Ralf and Clark face off against each other.
  • While it might not have the staying power or nostalgic value of "Esaka" or "Tears", Blaze, Kyo's other solo theme from KOF 2003, has its own merits.
  • Love him or hate him, Ash Crimson's themes are deliciously sinister, a testament to just how far he's strayed from the typical protagonistic mold. Splendid Evil in KOF 2003 kicked it off and Joker in XI eventually becomes something akin to Guilty Gear-lite (thanks in part to a killer guitar). Joker eventually got remixed in XIV, but repurposed and suitably re-arranged as Oswald's theme.
  • The Art of Fighting Team have written plenty of awesome music. Most songs have an Oriental flair to them, which serves to only amp up the awesome and keep you pumped for the fight. Try Ryuuko to Ken (Dragon, Tiger, and Fist) in KOF '95, Ryu-Ko in '99, Beauty and the Beast from 2000, Kyoku-gen in 2003, After a Long Absence in XI, and Art of Fight ~ Ryuko to Tsubame (Art of Fight ~ Dragon, Tiger, and Swallow) in 2002: Unlimited Match. Kamikirimushi (Praying Mantis) from '96 wasn't half bad either. In XIV, Tiger & Dragon serves as their theme song.
  • Zhe Prime, the riveting and yet melancholic theme of Nameless. Fitting doesn't even describe it.
  • The Women Fighters Team were not without great music either, which usually either fell into the category of catchy (think club-type beats) or soothing. See Ne! from KOF '94, Tsuchi o Hau Bass (Ground Creeping Bass) from '95, Sha-La-La from '99, Come up Smiling from 2000, and Destiny from 2002: Unlimted Match.
  • Antinomy ~Mutually Exclusive Dichotomy~, the theme of the Kyo Clone Team from KOF 2002: Unlimited Match. It starts out a contender for the darkest BGM you'll ever hear in a fighting game (which is fitting considering that evil, magical doppelganger Kusanagi is depicted as looking downright Ax-Crazy with a Slasher Smile that would put Yamazaki to shame). Then, around the post-1:00 mark, the song picks up and starts to feel... oddly heroic. Of course, you're right to back to square one after that brief moment of uplifting.
  • A cruel subversion with The King of Fighters 2001, which is almost unaminously hailed as the series' low point in musical score (justified; this was when SNK was paired with Eolith due to bankruptcy). Even with the extreme repetition found in the songs, fans still have their favorites like Kare Koso Saikyo (He is The Mightest) (Igniz's theme), The Invincible Flame (Japan Team theme), and The Undying Sun/The Immortal Mirror of the Sun (Rival Teamnote  theme).
  • The King of Fighters XII also had a very well-done soundtrack. Unlike previous games, the music used is based on the stage rather than the team or character. There are two versions each as well with one only slightly differing from the other. However, the real eye (or ear) opener is the AST versions of the soundtrack. Here is a preview, and the whole AST can be heard here.
  • KOF: Maximum Impact was not without some banging tracks as well. Feast your ears on The Usual C'mon, Can You Listen Until the Guitar Solo, At Toyotsu-Chou Suita City, The Trumpeter Under The Bridge, Dangerous Parking Lot (watch out for the Cluster N-Bomb starting at 1:21), Gaining Strength Under the Waterfall, Flying Tremolo Arm, and Requiem for 50,000 People.
  • And now that KOF XIII's been released, you can treat your ears to a new batch of great music:
  • Similarly, the menu theme for KoF-i, as heard here. It's also the Main Menu theme to XIII.
  • While 2002's soundtrack was somewhat lacking due to SNK's financial crisis at the time, Napolitan Trance, the theme of K9999 and the NESTS Team, was quite good, despite the repetitiveness. For some people, it may also be the intro and player select themes, even if one's based on the other.
  • XIV, being the series' big transition to 3D rendering, made sure to try and pack some great tunes in.
    • The Image Song for XIV, Follow Me, has already become memetic in the fandom for its catchy, hype-inducing melody and its presence in nearly every trailer for the game. WO-OH-OH-OOOOOOOOAH!!!
    • As usual, the Japan Team have an energetic and powerful electronic rock theme in the form of "Yappari Esaka". It samples both the team's XIII theme and their classic 96 theme, giving a feeling of paying tribute to the past history of not only Kyo and his team, but the real life Esaka station that serves as both their stage and SNK's old home. Above all, this theme lets you know that KOF is truly here again.
    • Saxophone Under The Moon, the theme for the Yagami Team. Iori's penchant for orgasmic jazz music has blessed him, Mature and Vice well.
    • If you thought "Wild Street" rocked your socks off, wait until you listen to the new Fatal Fury Team theme, "Departure from South Town". A high-octane rocking piece guaranteed to get anyone pumped when fighting in their home stage, in which the song fits very well, too.
    • The theme for the Villains Team, "Wa", is a gritty industrial piece with distorted guitars and dubstep influences, appropriate for a team of convicted prisoners. It also has moments of creepy ambience which are especially fitting for series newcomer Xanadu, the mysterious cultist who lead Chang and Choi after they escaped from Kim.
    • For the South Town Team, we have "Soy Sauce For Koyadofu", a very intense combination of hard rock and traditional Japanese instruments, as expected from Geese Howard and his syndicate. And if that doesn't do it for you, Geese's classic theme makes a return if he fights against Terry. This remix is very fitting, standing out among all the rival battle themes for capturing the feel of a bloodthirsty brawl between these two longtime foes. The 2.0 update added this remix of the Art of Fighting 2 version of Geese's theme, fittingly for Ryo vs. Geese matches.
    • The new Psycho Soldier Team theme, "tachi bou ke", turned some heads for not only being another fun J-pop tune to go along with Athena's character themeing, but being the first KoF song, and possibly the first major fighting game song, to use a Vocaloid as its primarily vocalist. The vocal version is saved for all Athena vs. Kensou fights, while the instrumental version without the Vocaloid is the stage theme for the Psycho Soldier Team's stage, "The Bund". Even cooler is how it functions on the Bund stage itself - if a team match leads to Athena vs. Kensou mid-match, the vocals will kick in seamlessly with no interruption to the music. If Athena vs. Kensou ends and the match overall continues, the vocals will fade back out.
    • The mysterious Official Invitation Team bring with them "Venatore Ballare", a very unusual theme for the KOF series. It's a bombastic orchestra track with vocals sung in Italian, very appropriate for the opera house/masquerade arena theme that is their home stage.
    • The final boss music, Independence From An Aggregate, is a major shoutout to AKIRA. The theme itself starts off with an ominous atmosphere, then the rhythmic percussions of Japanese instruments and chanting starts playing. Its no holds barred.
    • Antonov's theme, I'm THE KING OF FIGHTERS, has a great guitar riff and solos, plus some epic orchestral parts.
    • The credits theme, Burning On, sounds like something that would play as the series' swan song, but with a lot of developments for XIV (a proper shift to 3D for the main series, the start of a new story arc, etc.), it leaves fans hopeful and excited for what the future holds for SNK and the King of Fighters.
  • Version 2.0 of XIV adds some new songs to the game, most of which are remixes. Emergence, Rock Howard's new theme, perfectly captures the spirit of classic SNK music before their first "death". Very reminiscent of Goodbye Esaka and Fairy, and appropriately uplifting for seeing a massive fan favorite finally join a canon KOF game.
  • When Gai Tendo from Buriki One appeared in XI, he came with an awesome remake of his original theme. Behold The Kickboxer!
  • Ending and credits themes don't get too much attention, but they are often great. Here's Mirthless, the staff roll theme from '97, a charming, slow blues-like theme. Serious, one of the ending BGM from 2003, has an epic and melancholic feel that makes great use of the typical KOF rock style.
  • Version 3.0 of XIV adds in two original themes.
    • Successor, Najd's theme. An ominous tune with a distinct middle-eastern feel to it despite not using any middle-eastern instruments whatsoever.
    • Full Burst, the theme of Shun'ei vs. Kukri, cementing them as the main rivals of the new saga.
  • Alongside the first canonical entry of Team Sacred Treasuresnote  in KOFXV comes "Fictitious or Real," their first official theme, which combines elements of Kyo, Chizuru and Iori's themes.

    Fatal Fury 

    Art of Fighting 

    Samurai Shodown 
  • An ethnomusicologist actually wrote a thesis regarding the music of the franchise. The fourth game, in particular, is said to have a unique blend of Western and Japanese scales for a stylistic result that might have literally never been heard before in video games.
  • From Samurai Shodown, Tuna, the theme of series' staple McNinja Galford D. Weiler. It even has a live version, and a few awesome remixes.
  • Samurai Shodown Warrior's Rage has a brilliant arranged soundtrack and may be the single greatest music SNK has has ever done. First off, there is Asura's theme which is very dark, yet very tragic sounding. Then we have Haohmaru's appropriately named theme which probably suits him as a character as well as any theme can possibly suit a character. Galford and Nakoruru get probably the best versions of their themes to date, and to say nothing of the boss themes... Gandara has a fittingly ominous track for a giant... THING and Yuga's theme has a dark and terrifying sound that lets you know what kind of being you are up against.
  • Speaking of Samurai Shodown, Three Destinies Of Lamentation, the theme of the insane ghost, Basara Kubikiri. Arranged version is even more awesome!
  • The dark, gritty tone of the fourth episode is accompanied by a fitting soundtrack made of ominous minimalism. The arranged version of Demon's Song -Revised-, notable for being the only other hard rock track in the game next to Tuna, and actually being better than the original version.
  • From the fifth game, Yoshitora's theme is best described as "Tuna + Shamisen + Awesome."
  • Three words: Revive the Soul. Samurai Shodown is back, and it's brought the same epic caliber of music that it used to have along with it via the opening theme of the reboot.
  • From the 2019 installation, we have Way of the Crook, Earthquake's theme, blending traditional Japanese instrumentation together with heavy metal guitar riffs into a perfect fit for a huge, heavy guy like Earthquake.
  • Shrieking Abyss, musical theme for the ever Ax-Crazy Basara, complete with a slightly discordant feel to mirror his insanity.
  • "What is Strength?" heralds the entrance of The Warden to the Samurai Shodown universe, and what better way to do so than with a powerful orchestral piece with powerful drumming to back it up? The theme itself is a remix of the original Knights Theme from For Honor. The Samurai Shodown remix of The Warden's theme would then be used in the For Honor home game for Season 3 "Resistance".

    Metal Slug 
  • The 2-players ending theme from the original Metal Slug. There's also a vocal version.
  • The original version of Final Attack that shows up since Metal Slug 2 and it's so badass that it became the most recurrent leitmotif in the series. The two times the original version is used, you're fighting a mothership with Morden's army or engaging into a dramatic showdown with Rootmars. Anyway, this song is guaranteed to make you feel badass enough to fight an entire army and win.
  • A staple Boss Battle Music that spans across all games (save 5): Steel Beast.
  • Metal Slug 3 keeps the trend of awesome music alive.
  • The only thing Metal Slug 4 didn't recycle was the music, and it is amazing:
    • Secret Place (misnamed "Furiously" on the OST). Especially when the piano part starts playing.
    • Snowy Road ("Let's Run Through!" on the OST) sounds like a James Bond theme cranked up to eleven.
    • Furiously ("Secret Place" on the OST) may be the most ominous boss theme in the series.
  • Metal Slug 5 may be unfinished, but it still manages to have the most hard-rocking soundtrack in the series:
  • If the soundtracks of Radiant Silvergun and any Cave shooter had a child together, the Metal Slug 6 soundtrack would be that child:
    • The character select theme, Last Resort is all kinds of crazy awesome.
    • Its remix of the Metal Slug Theme.
    • Asian Impact is one of the most catchy electronica themes to hit arcades.
    • Biotoxic is amazing.
    • The Metal Slug 6 version of Final Attack subverts the usual tone of the song with a surprise drop after the intro into a dark and foreboding theme that slowly raises in intensity, from a slow, abstract melody that sounds truly "alien" to a pounding, thrashing climax that really sells the Knight of Cerebus nature of the Invaders.
    • "Discharge" is a unique theme for the Final Boss, having more of a horror vibe in contrast to the standard "Final Attack" that played throughout the series. Listen closely at the beginning, and you can hear a heartbeat, as if the player character were afraid. And when those drums kick in, you KNOW you're in for a really intense fight with an alien.
  • Metal Slug 7 picks up the awesome music gauntlet thrown down by the other games and hits back in kind.



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