Original vs Remix

When you want to listen to video game music in today’s gaming age, most people either A) order a collectors edition of a game because it’s usually included, B) go on ebay or playasia etc. to find a video game music CD, since soundtracks to games are more popular in games created in Japan, or C) they look for the soundtrack to download online in mp3 format.

There was a time when video game music wasn’t readily available in mp3.  There were mostly midi’s around, or you have special emulator programs that could emulate the old console systems sound in different file extentions (such as .spc for Super Nintendo, etc.). Back then, whole Gameboy soundtracks could actually be played in Winamp in one playlist entry (strange).

There was one source for high quality video game music, and that was created in 1999. OverClocked Remix opened up and was quickly through time building a reputation for making video game music sound modern. They usually had one or two songs from the artists’ favorite games, but they put together a huge collection on Chrono Trigger for SNES. I never beat the game but I had played it, and I downloaded their whole soundtrack. In my opinion, which I admit I haven’t kept up with their work in years now, that was the best work they had on the site.

As they grew, they gave more direction to the artists that were joining the group for music. They emphasized originality – remixing the music and simply not recreating it. Each song is personally reviewed by the admins and posted up, and I recall seeing someone who tried to modernize a song without remixing it and he was encouraged to make the song his own.

They do excellent work there, and remixes certainly were great in making the old, basic chipsets turn into modern electronica. Music today have the modern sound, so I’m guessing they just put their own touch and spin on the melodys to remix them.

What is your preference – the original song rendition or a remix? Mine? I always go for the original, even with old Gameboy music. To those who don’t appreciate game music, it’s just archaic beeps. To me, it’s memories. I want the original sound so I can put myself right where I was 15 years ago holding a Gameboy Color, or whatever. Super Mario All-Stars modernized the NES games inside to SNES without remixing, which I thought was excellent! But, who can complain about a good remix? I still listen to OC Remix’s Chrono Trigger today.

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VGM – Beyond Good and Evil

Beyond Good and Evil was originally released for the PC, Playstation 2, Xbox, and GameCube. It was rereleased in HD as Beyond Good and Evil HD for the XBOX360 and Playstation 3 as a downloadable game.

For those who have played this game, it’s hard to really describe what makes the story special. But believe me, this game has a fan following for a reason. The story and world inside always reminded me of a Disney movie. Heck, it would have made a great movie I think! This adventure game has a world you can really immerse yourself into. The music lends itself to that as well.

In short, you are trying to uncover a government scandal while trying to provide for children that live in an orphenage you run. Credit to Michel Ancel to the story, but credit to Christophe Héral for the soundtrack.

Many of the songs in the soundtrack contain ambience and odd sounds that create the atmosphere in the game – sneaking around behind the government in strange, unusual factories. Everyone has their preferences, and out of the soundtrack I only pay attention to a few songs. But two songs in this soundtrack are among the best music I’ve heard in my life.

Mammago’s Garage is a fun tune with an islands touch as it’s the theme of some Rhino-type creatures that run an auto-shop. Thoughtful reflections is a very relaxing, slow, simple song where Jade (main character) would almost throw in the towel on her endeavors. Also enjoyable is Redemption, which is a fitting song that the game could end to that contains the main melody to Beyond Good and Evil hummed by what sounds like a child. Hyllian Suite is the song to your home, where the game slows down and first lets you explore. Home Sweet Home is the theme when you are traveling around in your boat, and this is what plays when you first look into the world. These two songs alone capture your attention and sets you up for something that’s really special.

On my YouTube channel, I rarely show video game music because I get enough copyright flags as is. I made an exception for that on this game because it’s often overlooked and very special. Hyllian Suite (powered by stringed instruments and some sort of beautiful asian-sounding flute) and Home Sweet Home (piano and violens) are both A+ songs in their own right – the finest of music in video games in my opinion.

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Does it matter if you’ve played the game?

There are those who look back on their video game collection and grab/buy soundtracks from their favorite games. There are others who collect all video game soundtracks that have received any admiration or positive reviews. Are there any differences in listening to games that you yourself haven’t played?

For me, there are differences. Growing up, I only collected music from games I remembered to be my favorites. Video game music wasn’t a subject you saw much about, so at the time you only worried about the game itself, and not the composer or company the game came from. There weren’t many reviews out there for video game soundtracks.

Years passed, however, and video games shifted from using their 8-bit chipsets for music, and transitioned to synth pads and occasionally full orchestra. OC Remix had grown into taking music out of these outdated chipsets and making it sound modern. These changes contributed to making music stand out, even in game reviews, and composers grew to receive some more personalized credit.

About a year ago, I stumbled upon a few playlists on YouTube where people had listed, in no particular order, their favorite video game singles through the years. These spanned from NES down to modern day PS3, Xbox360 and Wii. I saw many songs that I also agreed were in my favorites, but most of the songs were from games I never played. For instance:

Secret of Mana for SNES .

This game has what is considered one of the best SNES soundtracks of all time. I, however, have never played this game. I decided, for probably the second time ever, to download a soundtrack from a game I haven’t played. I listened over it, picked what I liked most, and included it in a massive playlist that included my favorite music. It is still there today, but is it the same?

Generally, it is not. Not for me at least. The songs, while enjoyable, do not stir me. They feel empty in meaning. They do not recall any memories to mind like the other 99% of my playlist. They just don’t seem to fit. Curiously, I said ‘generally’ earlier because this is not always the case. I have never played Guild Wars (or any of its many expansions), but because I loved other work by Jeremy Soule I decided to collect those soundtracks. I absolutely love those songs, almost as much as the other music from games I’ve played. Is it the style? Or maybe because I’ve listened to Guild Wars for years, and Secret of Mana for less than a year.

It’s always going to come down to personal preference. Some people just love to collect as much video game music as they can. I just don’t because it doesn’t feel nearly the same to me.

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Launching onto WordPress

I am creating this WordPress blog as a way for me to express my thoughts when I am unable to create videos for YouTube. I spend a lot of time on computers that do not have Sony Vegas or Adobe Premiere, and I can spend some time writing.

I am by no means a talented writer or an expert on video games or music. This blog is created for my own reading and enjoyment where I can express my own opinions. In this blog I will be writing almost entirely on two subjects: Video Games, and their music. Video game music is overlooked and, for me at least, the quality of a game’s soundtrack is in direct connection with how well I remember the game itself.

If you go on YouTube and watch videos on individual songs inside certain video game titles, you often times see top comments on how much the listener misses the game and their childhood of gaming. Once you grow up, as I myself have, you simply do not have enough time to play all the games you went, and even less time to go back and beat games you already have 10 years or so ago. Due to this, I keep my favorite soundtracks around and it brings me the satisfaction only music can bring.

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