Background music

What it is

Background music is music that sets a stage (just like background scenery does).


In fighting games, background music heavily defines the atmosphere of the whole game, and largely affects how characters and stages are perceived, so it does play a role in determining how quality people find a game to be.

Recent games allow you to go to the option menu and adjust the volume of music and sound effects. Also in this menu, recent games may even allow you to choose between the authentic arcade music (OST: Original Soundtrack), or the rearranged and maybe even remixed “Arranged” soundtrack (AST); this is especially true of the Street Fighter Anniversary Collection and many recent SNK games. You can buy these soundtracks on CD in many cases, though they are usually only sold in Japan.


The music of some games (e.g. Guilty Gear) is largely praised, while some games are widely panned (e.g., many consider KOF 2001 to have rather banal generic techno). There are some games with a minimum of music, with KOF ’97 being one of the few examples; there is no background music unless particular characters come on, though the music itself is good quality, as are the hauntingly music-less background noises.

Special kinds of background music

  • Sometimes, music will have lyrics added for an arranged version.
  • The character selection screen tends to have some memorable music. Makes sense, since players hear it every time they start a game.
  • Music may change in the middle of a fight; the most famouse example is in Street Fighter II, where the music speeds up when someone’s life gets low during or after the second round.

Further reading

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Based off the article on the wiki, edited on 4 February 2009.
Unofficial translation published by BRPXQZME / Alfie Parthum 6 February 2009. No unauthorized redistribution permitted.