SNK's The King of Fighters 2000 was possibly the last "true" King of Fighters game. That said, the final soundtrack went out with a bang. Now a new Korean company, Eolith, has taken over, and some people are quite skeptical as to how the next chapter in the series will turn out. The game is said to be great. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about its soundtrack.
Let's get right to the point. Remember Streets of Rage 2 for Sega Genesis? This soundtrack would be a perfect canidate for that game. That's right, it's good enough to be good 16-bit music. Anyone who's played the KOF series will know that SNK has successfully produced great music even though there were hardware limitations. Now, I haven't seen KOF2K1, and as I mentioned the game is said to have great graphics, but seeing SNK's past work, most people would expect great music (Mark of the Wolves is a great example).
It seems as though they are taking a dance/techno route. Most if not all songs are repetative, lasting no longer than a minute before looping. This in itself is an atrocity! It sounds as though some drum and bass were mixed together and simply slapped onto the game at the last minute. It's a shame. "Big Pain" which is the Hero team them, lacks originality as it is taken almost straight from the player select theme and adds a little guitar to make it sound a tad different. The theme for the Korean team sounds as though it borrowed from "Rumbling in the City" from KOF '96 and gives it a little variation to make it sound "unique".
Some tunes, however, are likeable. We've got the Iori team them which has a nice beat going for it, but lacks the cool, calm, sadistic sound that Yagami himself is now known for. The bad part about the song is that it lasts 37 seconds before it loops again. The theme "Queen of Fighters", which is the ladies team theme, once again features a club-like beat that seems to represent team leader King. And then there's the always favorable Psycho Soldier team theme which features more of a dance beat that suits team leader Athena Asamiya well.
Every King of Fighters soundtrack seemed to follow some kind of tradition. KOF '94 through 2K always had a song featuring the title "Esaka", representing Kyo Kusanagi, the main character of the series. All themes of Iori Yagami, Kusanagi's rival, featured a saxophone and would even feature titles with the word Saxophone in it (with the exception of "Sadistic Eyes", which did feature a saxophone as well).
There are some cases where a soundtrack takes time before it actually grows on you. In this case, it will take a long time. It's unfortunate that the soundtrack turned out as terrible as it did, especially considering this is the last chapter in the Nests trilogy. I just hope that a better job will be done on The King of Fighters 2002.