My Favorite Themes In Gaming - On the Rooftop of Taiyo High School - Rival Schools
I LOVE THIS GAME!
There was once this magical time in gaming from 1997 to 1999. Games like Tekken 3, Street Fighter Alpha 3, Rival Schools, and Street Fighter 3 3rd Strike were hitting the arcades one after the other. There was also the X-Men and Marvel fighting games but I didn't really get into those at the time. And pretty much all of them, with the exception of Street Fighter 3, were coming to the PlayStation. This was the only time in my life where I stopped playing Nintendo games exclusively and jumped onto the Sony bandwagon. Having grown up playing fighting games, I needed to go where the action was, and the Playstation was the place to go!
So in 1998 I got to play for the first time this amazing game called Rival Schools. I had never seen anything like it at that point in life. Most 3D fighting games were going for either a stylized look or something more realistic. Rival Schools hit me right in the heart points by going for this action anime style visual which complimented its excellent fighting mechanics and team up abilities. It was like Street Fighter but...crazier! I couldn't believe what some of these characters were doing, for instance the baseball bat toting Shoma who could literally knock you hundreds of feet into the air with his ridiculously sized red baseball bat. I loved it. And I still love it to this day. Though at the time of this writing, I no longer have a Playstation or a copy of Rival Schools, I certainly intend to do something about that situation!
But we're not just here to talk about how amazing Rival Schools was/is. What with its awesome anime intro and theme song/ending, or it's many team up combination moves, seperate modes, and being the first game to render Sakura from Street Fighter Alpha in 3D! No, we're here to talk about the awesome track from the second Taiyo High School level. This theme which is basically associated with Rival Schools whenever the characters are brought back for special entries in other fighting game series such as Tatsunoko vs Capcom or Capcom vs SNK....okay, I'm really getting off track here. Let's just link to the song already!
This theme. I played this game and heard this theme before I actually started attending high school in the year 2000. I remember sometimes just putting the game on, setting it to practice mode, and just letting the characters sit there so I could hear this theme. This song was just so upbeat, adventurous, high spirited...kind of like how most people are before the crushing weight of the world world's skepticism and cynicism hits you for the first time. And even when that did happen, I still found myself drawn to Rival Schools and its cast of great characters and the game's theme of unity, (it is subtitled United By Fate after all) friendship and solidarity as a way of bracing myself up against the things I had to face in the outside world and right at home as well.
And now, so many years later, I can still feel a lot of the same emotions this song made me swell with since the first time I heard it. In a lot of games where gore is emphasized over action, and dark and gritty is the ingredient being thrown into so many television shows and movies (heck, even Superman is looking pretty grim these days) it's nice to come back to something like this and reflect on just how fun and free spirited something like a fighting game can be. The only thing that's even slightly comparable to this is Super Smash Bros.
I really hope Capcom, if they can figure out how to deal with their current financial crisis, comes back to Rival Schools and takes another shot at it. I know they did a sequel in the form of Project Justice, but I didn't really care for that game very much. Something was missing from it, and it just wasn't as fun as the original ingenuity that flowed with Rival Schools. And I never even got to play the Evolution version either! I heard that version of the game came with some kind of school simulator. As a big of a fan that I am of the Sims, I think I could have a lot of fun with that.
Whenever I think of Rival Schools, I think of this. It was just a game that came along at the right time for me. And though my own high school experience didn't in any way turn out to be as fun as this game was, I still look back very fondly on the experience of playing through the game's story at that point in my life when it did. It was like an interactive anime and I enjoyed it quite a bit. So many thanks goes out to Capcom for creating something truly awesome. Now if only they could just do it again with this series someday....