t’s possible that you haven’t heard of OverClocked ReMix, but not very likely; since 1999, this consortium of fan remixers has been producing their own amazing takes on original video game music, with 2300 tracks and 35 complete albums to show for their efforts thus far — that’s six-and-a-half days’ worth of solid music, if you need to catch up. Since we’ve already told the full story about this gaming community a few years back, we decided to invite OC ReMix community manager and submissions judge Larry “Liontamer” Oji to scratch the surface of his site’s monumental library by giving us some insight on the tracks he thinks best represent the creative superpowers behind OC ReMix.
Intro by Bob Mackey and track commentaries by Larry Oji
Originally “Terra” by Nobuo Uematsu
Some fan-favorite themes just can’t help but attract extra attention. This take on Nobuo Uematsu’s “Terra” theme from FF6 (Final Fantasy III in the U.S.) is one of OCR’s early classics. Stitching together piano and acoustic guitar within a light ensemble of instruments, Swedish OC ReMixer AmIEviL sets the scene for the aftermath of a dramatic winter battle.
It’s easily one of the OCR community’s top examples of creating an arrangement that keeps the familiar structure of the source tune but establishes its own unique sound. It’s also an example of one of the most popular game music themes to arranged on OC ReMix, as “Terra” is used in 15 ReMixes, currently tied with Super Mario Bros.’ “Overworld BGM” and Mega Man 2′s “Dr. Wily Stage 1.”
Originally “Gemini Man Stage” by Harumi Fujita
Along with the site’s founder djpretzel and the eclectic Mazedude, McVaffe is an OC ReMix institution, contributing over 40 ReMixes in a variety of genres during OCR’s first 3 years. While he no longer as active, McVaffe still occasionally contributes, his latest being Okami ‘Celestial Winds from the East’ in 2008. You’re not a true fan of OC ReMix until you’ve gone through McVaffe’s sizeable contributions.
This Mega Man 3 piece goes for a decidedly different approach to Mega Man music by slowing down Gemini Man’s theme with Spanish rhythms. ReMixers like McVaffe who have a lot of contributions tend to be strong at several genres, rather than just one.
More McVaffe hotness on OC ReMix: Tetris ‘McVaffeQuasi Ultimix’ – NiGHTS into dreams… ‘Soft Museum Jam’ – Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island ‘Crystalline Caverns’
Originally “Overworld BGM” by Koji Kondo
Someone recently created a thread on OC ReMix’s forums wanting recommendations for the “craziest ReMixes.” Five sarcastic replies later, there was only giving one emphatic, definitive answer created by four crazy(-good) British musicians.
This drum-’n-bass ReMix of Mario’s classic World 1-1 theme starts off crazy and ends CRAZIER. OC ReMix welcomes all music genres with open arms, and there’s absolutely nothing else like this one on the entire site.
More off-beat OC ReMixes: Legend of Zelda ‘Zelda Heineken’ by Mattias Holmgren (Yep. Zelda + Heineken bottle = music!) – Secret of Mana ‘Dueling Consoles’ by Shnabubula (If an SNES and a Genesis musically fornicated…) – A Boy and His Blob ‘Cyborg Blobby’ by Mazedude (Tracker samples made from importing non-music files?!?)
Originally “Maridia – Rocky Underground Water Area” by Minako Hamano
A site that’s been around as long as OC ReMix — 12 years running — is bound to have its share of community moments, including romance and rallying to support others in need. Andrew “zircon” Aversa and Jillian Goldin initially started working together on OCR’s old podcast, and the friendship turned into marriage, as well as lots of kick-ass music collaborations by the Aversas.
In 2008, OCR’s community honored site mainstay bLiNd, who was having health issues, with a speedily-made tribute album of music from his favorite game, Super Metroid. zircon and Jillian teamed up here with an even more haunting twist to the Maridia theme, including lyrics loosely written from the perspective of Samus alone on an alien world.
More OC ReMixes by married couples: Stormlord ‘Seneca’s Marble Pack Edit’ by N-Joy & Simona – Super Street Fighter IV ‘Time to Oil Up’ by zircon & Jillian Aversa – Shadow of the Colossus ‘Snowfall on Forbidden Lands’ by ceili & sephfire (narrator Daniel Floyd of Extra Credits fame)
Originally “Swing Commander” & “Fanfare – The Main Theme” by Dave Govett & The Fat Man
OC ReMix isn’t only about honoring awesome video game music, but also the original composers that inspired the ReMixes — which makes it an event when VGM composers submit their own mixes.
After being introduced to the site by Doom lead designer John Romero, legendary American VGM composer “The Fat Man” George Sanger sent in an arrangement of his own music from PC classic The 7th Guest, OCR’s first endorsement by a celebrated game composer.
Years later, he also sent in a live surf music performance of Wing Commander’s main theme, joined by fellow original composer Dave Govett, Zombies Ate My Neighbors composer Joe McDermott, and their Team Fat colleague K. Weston Phelan.
While some VGM fans prefer arrangements to only “stay true” the original source tune’s mood, tempo, and instruments, it’s impossible to argue with this mellow version of Wing Commander when the original composers and their friends are the ones doing the transformation!
More OC ReMixes by veteran game composers: Donkey Kong Country 2 ‘Re-Skewed’ by David Wise, Grant Kirkhope & Robin Beanland – Final Fantasy VI ‘Squaresoft Variation’ by Jeremy Soule – Deus Ex ‘Siren Synapse’ by Alexander Brandon & Big Giant Circles
Originally “Prophesy” & “Secret of the Arid Sands” by Hiroki Kikuta
Video game music & words! Together at last!
Despite most mainstream music and plenty of VGM soundtracks using lyrics, the addition of lyrics into video game music strikes a nerve with many VGM fans who ONLY want instrumental music and nothing else. However, many OC ReMixes will encourage even the most ardent vocal-hater to make exceptions.
Brandon “Harmony” Bush’s stylish Secret of Mana ReMix has none other than the title’s composer, Hiroki Kikuta, as a fan. When OCR interviewed him, Kikuta actually air guitared some of “Dragon Song” without being prompted! With airy instruments, lush vocals, AND Kikuta kudos that “Dragon Song” provides, you’ll be flying with Flamme in no time.
More OC ReMixes with lyrics: Xenogears ‘Hymn of Aveh’ by katethegreat19 – Earthworm Jim 2 ‘Invertebrate Retreat’ by Danny Baranowsky, Vigilante & zyko – Sonic Adventure 2 & 1 ‘Knuckles’ Unknown from M.C.’ by José the Bronx Rican
Originally “Game Over,” “Match BGM” & “Get Up!” by Yukio Kaneoka, Akito Nakatsuka & Kenji Yamamoto
Bring on the bands!
Some bands on OCR have their own niches. For example, Neskvartetten focused on jazz versions of Zelda and Mario tracks, sticking with Nintendo flagships. Meanwhile, The Megas sing about Mega Man’s battles while performing Mega Man music arrangements. That’s a lot of Mega!
And other bands, like Game Over, just… plain… rock.
Game Over’s OC ReMix debut tells the story of a down-and-out Little Mac looking back on his crushing KO at the hands of Punch-Out’s Mike-Tyson-replacing boss, Mr. Dream.
Whether it’s rock, metal, jazz or orchestral, there are plenty of bands and ensembles that contribute OC ReMixes greater than the sum of their parts!
Originally “Hudson River near the Holland Tunnel” by Kozo Nakamura
When it comes to VGM, there’s arguably nothing more nostalgic than chiptunes. Whether it’s tones or samples from the NES, SNES, Genesis, C64, or Game Boy, chiptunes remind many of us of where we came from as gamers. OCR has plenty of musicians who feel the same way, with guys like Benjamin Briggs and AeroZ using chip sounds alongside organic instruments and modern synths for that all-important throwback sound.
Shnabubula (who seemingly makes great music in his sleep) is extremely talented both as a pianist AND a chiptune musician. So, what better way to highlight both strengths than to combine them?
To top it off, this ReMix of TMNT’s Hudson River theme is so jazzy, it ALMOST makes you forget how annoying that level’s electric seaweed was when you were TRYING to swim through and defuse the bombs. Stress has never sounded smoother.
More OC ReMixes with chiptunes: Ecco: The Tides of Time ‘Another Seascape’ by halc – Highway Hunter ‘The Final Stretch’ by Suzumebachi – EarthBound ‘See Sixty Funk’ by Mazedude
Originally “Emerald Forest” & “Antiquity” by Fumito Tamayama, Yoko Suzuki, Shigenori Masuko & Yasuyuki Hamada
Because nostalgia is the biggest driver for what OC ReMixers choose to arrange, the most popular series on OC ReMix (Castlevania, Chrono Trigger/Chrono Cross, Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy, Mario, Mega Man, Metroid, Sonic, Secret of Mana/Seiken Densetsu, and Zelda) inspire more than half of the community’s arrangements.
But because there are nearly no restrictions on what game soundtracks can be arranged, there are also over 1,100 other ReMixes that have nothing to do with those ten popular franchises. Be sure not to overlook the huge amount of arrangements from lesser-known games (and take advantage of the site’s free torrents) so that you don’t miss out on VGM you didn’t even know you’d enjoy!
OCR’s founder djpretzel has channeled his creativity to lesser known titles in the past, including his spin on Vic Tokai’s Sonic the Hedgehog clone, Socket. Along with several Sega Master System game soundtracks, djp also recorded Socket’s soundtrack off of his TV and onto cassette tape as a child, with djp stating that Socket’s music likely “played an integral part in inspiring the origin of OCR itself.”
Lesson: You never know where the inspiration for some big ideas will come from. Keep your mind AND your ears open!
More excellent OC ReMixes from lesser-known games: Ghouls’n Ghosts ‘Poltergeist Mix’ by Binster – Super Hang-On ‘Burn, Baby, Burn!’ by Sixto Sounds – One Man and His Droid ‘Do Droids Dream of Ramboids?’ by Dummy
Originally “Ending” by Minako Hamano
As the artists at OC ReMix have gained more experience, some of them have taken the next step: creating game music soundtracks as professional composers. OC ReMix itself joined the fray in 2008 after Capcom discovered the site’s Blood on the Asphalt tribute album, and commissioned over 20 OC ReMixers to arrange the entire soundtrack for Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.
But perhaps the most well-known individual name in game music to emerge from OCR is Super Meat Boy, Canabalt, and Binding of Isaac composer Danny Baranowsky, who showed great orchestral sensibilities with this beautiful 2003 Super Metroid ending theme mix from the community’s very first album, Relics of the Chozo.
Along with Baranowsky, other top names who have created superlative mixes and served on the site’s judges panel for music selection have since contributed to top AAA and indie game scores, including Big Giant Circles (Mass Effect 2), zircon (Monkey Island 2 SE, Soulcalibur V), Jillian Aversa (Halo Anniversary, Soulcalibur V), and Mattias Häggström Gerdt (Mojang’s Scrolls).
OC ReMix is here, and they want to score your game soundtracks.
More OC ReMixers from composers BEFORE they went pro: Jade Cocoon ‘Battle ~ Trials of a Cocoon Master’ by Mattias Häggström Gerdt – Final Fantasy Adventure ‘Wish Upon a Wendellian Star’ by Jimmy “Big Giant Circles” Hinson – Final Fantasy VII ‘Deliverance of the Heart’ by Andrew “zircon” Aversa & Jillian Aversa