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Old Sep 11, 2009, 10:17 AM
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Default remixSite Newsletter - September 11, 2009 - Where Video Game Remixing Went Wrong

The following article was published in the remixSite Newsletter on September 11, 2009. Comment on the article on this thread. To subscribe to the newsletter, create a remixSite account and ensure that your profile is configured to receive mailing list updates.

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Where Video Game Remixing Went Wrong
by shawnphase of Temp Sound Solutions (http://www.remixsite.org/profile/vie...ame/shawnphase)

Its safe to say that within any genre-based community, you will find families and clans that prefer certain flavors above others. In our scene, it’s always been a very niche one that can be considered being a bit stranger, the fandom of us takes different bounds and theres a lot of strange lineage of it, which I will get into in another article I'm sure. From what I see, considering myself an insider, there are many different veins that connect us together. This is a good thing to me. However, this article is to talk about the things that set time periods apart in our love for video game music, and its effect on the arrangements and offerings in our community.

To explain the ways our fandom has developed different places to share VGM remakes and creations would first do well to explain the way that voicings and soundeffects in video games have grown over time. In the mid to late 80’s, arcade machines developed stronger and more intricate soundchips that allowed beefier sound than your normal fare. Manami Gotoh, aka Chan Chakorin for example developed one of the best soundtracks of the time period, the music for Capcom’s ‘UN Squadron’, based on the popular Japanese manga Area 88. Its of my firm belief that this time in which this game came out is somewhat of a cutoff as well as a litmus for the different factions and how they derive what songs or games they choose to do video game covers of.

Later on, as technology developed, games like UN Squadron were brought to the Super Nintendo system, as games went from the arcade to home systems, sometimes with less than stellar ports. One of the worst ports of all time was the long-awaited Mortal Kombat to the SNES, though later sequels made up for it. As the years of popularity passed with systems such as the SNES on top as well as the Genesis, and newer sytems came into the fray, the music became more and more ambiguous and made way for more attention to be given to the graphics or the control.

There were still some key games that had important music, but as technology in gaming improved and younger fans were exposed to the newest and most powerful systems, the emphasis in the feelings the music helped to create wasn’t there as much because of the power in the hardware and software used. People were more appeased with ports of arcade games onto systems like the Nintendo 64, Dreamcast, and Saturn, and hardly anybody could disagree that the Playstation 2 had superior sound over any other system. But somewhere along the lineage of systems, there was something that was ignored about the simplicity of the music that left a lot to be desired.

The major systems of the 80s: the NES, Sega Master System, and even the C64, had 5 voices of sound at the most to worry about. In most situations, once you begin to use more than this, an average musician is going to run into problems with instrumentation, of feeling as if they’re adding too much instrumentation and not enough to the source material. When you have this many voices, its easier for a musician to add or expand on these ideas, but if you start adding expansions and abilities for different SFX and more verbose instrumentation, it becomes more daunting for the average musician to give a little bit of their own essence to the songs. I definitely feel like it’s a good idea for people within the VGM community to go back and cover some older music every now and then to get a little bit of their own feelings into their remixes.

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Last edited by quintin3265; Sep 11, 2009 at 10:48 AM.
  #2  
Old Sep 11, 2009, 06:22 PM
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I think that I understand and agree with most of what Shawn is saying here, especially about the original soundtracks of games before and after circa 1995. However, it seems to me that most people are still covering songs from "older" games.

The thing that irritates me is that so many people keep covering the same games (e.g. Mega Man 2, Castlevania 3, Final Fantasy 6, etc.) in the same style. There are lots of great tunes from great games that have not been remixed yet.

I have selected games such as Little Ninja Brothers, Pooyan and Vampire Savior for my songs. If a novice musician like me can always find something different to cover, then imagine what someone with talent could do! LOL
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Old Sep 12, 2009, 05:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Another Toad View Post
I think that I understand and agree with most of what Shawn is saying here, especially about the original soundtracks of games before and after circa 1995. However, it seems to me that most people are still covering songs from "older" games.

The thing that irritates me is that so many people keep covering the same games (e.g. Mega Man 2, Castlevania 3, Final Fantasy 6, etc.) in the same style. There are lots of great tunes from great games that have not been remixed yet.

I have selected games such as Little Ninja Brothers, Pooyan and Vampire Savior for my songs. If a novice musician like me can always find something different to cover, then imagine what someone with talent could do! LOL
Actually, I think I disagree with shawn here. He does make many good points, like the issue with simpler melodies lending a specific style.

But I think part of the reason why people aren't remixing newer games is because newer games already sound good. There isn't much to add to a fully orchestrated score. Anything that's sequenced will sound inferior to original works like these.

But that doesn't mean people shouldn't try. Most newer songs still have a very simple theme at their core. If you strip away all the instrumentation and start with the most simple melody possible, I don't see why recent songs should be of any lesser caliber than older songs.
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