The idea of a Rock Opera is hilarious in itself, so it's no surprise the genre is often used as gag material, some times to hilarious effect and sometimes not so much. The newly released Street Figther Rock Opera, however, has almost no precedent for it's awesomeness.
It's the work of collegiate rock band The Man Factory, and the seven songs that make up Act 1 are available for free download on the band's Myspace, complete with lyrics and liner notes. These are a welcome aid in following the plot, which concerns Chun Li's bid to revenge her father's death at the hands of M. Bison, which more or less adheres to the character's actual backstory. The songs are mostly sung from the first person view point of the characters, including a lovestruck Zangief, Interpol Agent E. Honda, and arrogant star of the Vegas boxing circuit, Balrog. Vega and Ryu are referred to, but we'll presumably have to wait until Act 2 for further lyrical insights into their characters.
The Man Factory has a powerpop rock sound that comes in somewhere between Ozma (remember them?) and a more low-fi version of The New Pornographers. The songs can be enjoyed solely as massive in-jokes about the Street fighter mythos, but the tone of the songs are not overtly jokey, and the band surprisingly manages to mine some effective musical drama from the characters and their street-fighting related tribulations. The most effective track is Chun Li, Outside, a tragic song of loss and revenge. You wouldn't think the lyric "Bison got away boat towards Thailand" could inspire a catch in your throat, but an abrupt change from major to minor in the music takes the song from fanart to something with value independent of it's source material.
Not every song flies as high as that one, and the fact that one high-voiced male singer sings all the male parts makes Balrog's strutting hip-hop number slightly cringe-inducing. But over all the lyrical quality is high, and the music is great in small doses. There are two more batches of songs on the way, but in the mean time you can check out a demo track on the band's official site, about fan fave Dhalsim. Well, I liked playing as him. I wasn't going to win anyway.