I have learned from experience that Capcom's more recent soundtrack efforts from the Street Fighter series are nowhere near as powerful or invigorating as they used to be. When I spend good cash on a Street Fighter soundtrack from Capcom's glory days I expect something valuable that I can cherish, both for the nostalgic factor and because of Capcom Sound Team's songwriting excellence. G.S.M. Capcom 4 ~ Street Fighter II, Street Fighter II Image Album, and even X-Men VS. Street Fighter are all well-rounded packages, filled with new takes on classic Street Fighter arrangements and, in the case of G.S.M. 4, a plethora of extra tracks and rearrangements. And don't even get me started on the amazing Yuji Toriyama arranged album. But, there are times when a Capcom soundtrack lets me down on a number of different levels, and Super Street Fighter II The New Challengers is one of those discs. If the overall package had better presentation and if the album had more planning and forethought in pre-production, the album could have been something great. As it stands, it's a vast disappointment.
First things first, there are 65 different tracks on the disc. This raises a white flag right off the bat, especially when the disc's length doesn't even break an hour's worth of listening. Do a little math and the average track time measures out to be less than a minute a piece. After I factored in the various voice tracks, the requisite opening theme, and the sound effect collections, I became more hopeful that the disc would be able to deliver that sweet and gooey mouthful of Street Fighter II goodness that I crave during the wee hours of the night, when my house goes silent and all I can hear is the wind whispering a faint "Alph Lyra" as it brushes by my window. A study of the track times and their corresponding listening contents instantly snapped me out of that Shimomura-induced dream, forcing me to inadvertently abandon my sunny afternoon picnic with a bikini-clad Cammy and Chun-Li splashing each other in the tide almost as quickly as I was able to conjure it.
While I was skipping around after listening to "Ken Ending", a minute and a half's worth of organ that is playing that wedding song when the bride and groom leave the church and drive off in their limo with empty soup cans dragging from the bumper, I decided that I have had it with this soundtrack. I am perfectly comfortable with low quality MIDI; I have been known to embrace it and pinch its cute little 16-bit tush when nobody else can see. The fact that this soundtrack has a consistently flat arcade-soundboard tonality did not affect how I felt about the music at all. It was the shoddy overall listening experience and Capcom's "cram as much crap as we can onto one disc" mentality that completely ruined this soundtrack. When one of the longest tracks on a Street Fighter soundtrack is "There Goes the Bride" (or whatever that song is called) something is terribly wrong.
Everything is fairly average for the actual character themes that are on the disc. The arrangements aren't anything spectacular compared to previous versions and their track times are disappointingly short. The problem here is that these themes comprise a measly one third of the soundtrack, leaving much of the remainder of the disc to be a waste of plastic. Even though the sound quality of the entire soundtrack isn't great, it matters not; most of this disc is extraneous.
Aside from the character themes, which are usually the selling points of any fighting game soundtrack, the rest of the tracks are mainly either ending themes or voice collections. These two types of tracks only serve two purposes — to break the flow of the disc and to ruin the entire experience. If the ending themes were put toward the end of the disc and all the voice collections were clumped together I would be much more forgiving, but making the disc structure have "Stage", "Ending", and "Voice" tracks for each of the sixteen fighters in succession is simply a poor decision on Capcom's behalf. It's sad, because between each of the fantastic stage themes, there is a lot of filler that could have been omitted to make room for looping the themes. An ideal fighting game soundtrack should be structured with the characters' themes clumped together with no extra rubbish thrown in between. Extra themes and jingles should be put near the end of the disc, for a more concrete and static experience; voice collections should be last so they can be easily skipped or ignored. Ideally, this is how Super Street Fighter II's soundtrack should have been structured; as is, the presentation is one of the worst I've ever seen (or more appropriately, heard) on a video game soundtrack.
I'm not sure what intern was given the authority to assemble the tracklist and allow all of that extra junk to be thrown in the mix, but whoever it was has effectively overshadowed the positive aspects of Capcom Sound Team's amazing talents and compositional flair with all of the useless tracks that are on here. I should also mention that 10% of the disc manifests itself in the "Sound Effects Collection" and the "Announcer Collection". This is a crime. There is no other CD that has been such a chore to listen to for review. With the wealth of all of the other Street Fighter soundtracks and arrange albums out there I can not recommend this album for any reason whatsoever. If you're expecting the sonic equivalent of a Swedish massage from Cammy from this disc, you are terribly mistaken. The allure of Super Street Fighter II The New Challengers can only be equated to being locked in a Port-a-Potty with E. Honda on a humid summer day.