Top Five Video Game Track Remixes

What are Kaleb’s top five video game track remixes?  In no particular order… or are they? (Dramatic music)

Oh, and since I couldn’t get the titles to work like I wanted them to:  Top is original, bottom is remix.

Rise of the Albatross-Bionic Commando

Okay, I’m borderline amazed at myself for ultimately warming up to this one.  Two reasons:

1. The original Rise of the Albatross — or “Stage 12 Music”, and it was less-loftily referred to — has an almost perfect vibe of on-the-way-to-the-final-showdown-ness.  Like, you didn’t need to be told you were heading for the finale, because you could hear as much in the music.

Well, okay, of course you the player didn’t need to be told it was the last stage, because you would’ve just parachuted into it from the eye-meltingly garish overmap.  What I mean is, if you played the song for someone with no foreknowledge of the situation for which it was used, they’d more than likely still say, “Ah!  Sounds like a spiky-haired man is cavorting off to re-kill Hitler!”

The point is, it’s a song very near and dear to me, and therefore not one I was eager to have messed around with.

2. When I first heard that Bionic Commando was getting a modern facelift, it tested my nerdly bladder control to the very limit.  I was absolutely elated, and was to the same degree galled when I heard the remixed stage tracks.

“Wow.  You know, I’ve always wondered what Bionic Commando would’ve sounded like if it had been set entirely within the confines of a gay nightclub,” snarked I bitterly.  Followed immediately by, “What the hell happened to Spencer’s Edward Scissorhands hair?”

But, I shrugged it off, downloaded the game as soon as it was released — a scant four months after its projected release date — and had it working and playable less than a month after that.  Not bad for PC!

So I started playing through it, and found, much to my own amazement, that the music works a lot better than my vicious prejudgment (I do love them so) had me expecting.  However, I reserved the acid test for the final stage; the music of which I had not heard prior to the game’s release.  And I gotta say, I was pretty disappointed at first.  The BGM for the initial Area 12 — roughly the first ninety seconds of the clip below — is fairly dang weak.

But then, the insanely-difficult “real” final stage is revealed, and the music beefifies to match, and Kaleb is left feeling warm and happy in his groove-tummy.

I don’t know why I suddenly start liking the track when it amps-up (I’m particularly fond of the transition), considering all that’s really happening is that it’s just getting faster, louder and gayer, but it works somehow, and I’m not going to question it further.

Jungle Jam-Contra

If there were ever a track that really needed a rock remix, Contra’s Stage 1 music would be it.  Think about it: Two muscley, shirtless dudes engaging in wholesale alien slaughter in the jungle.  If that isn’t a situation that could benefit from having some electric guitars thrown at it, I don’t know what is.

Sadly, the limits of late-80s gaming technology sort of killed the dream, as the NES’ sound chip was only capable of accurately emulating two instruments: Kinda Drums, and the Boop (an obscure Norwegian woodwind).

Fast-forward to the present day of a few years ago, whenupon one Chris Kline gives Contra the gutpunch rock tribute it deserves, and thereby propels himself to low-key Internet quasi-stardom.  Not only is Jungle Jam one of the most logical tracks in this countdown, but possibly the most enjoyable, were I to rank them.  It’s Contra the way it should’ve sounded, and Hidenori Maezawa agrees with me; not because he composed the game’s soundtrack, but because I am very influential.

Not-that-interesting-sidenote: Despite the fact that I tend to be Mr. Stodgy McLeaveitalone, and like to have things un-messed with, I quite enjoy the off-the-rails latter half of the song.

Dr. Wily’s Castle-Mega Man 2

Oftentimes, what elevates an otherwise good song to greatness is its cadence.  The “William Tell Overture” works in large part because it’s evocative of galloping hoofbeats.  Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby” works because it’s synced to slow, gentle porking.  And the logical third entry in that trifecta, “Dr. Wily’s Castle”, draws much of its appeal from being matched so well to Mega Man’s adorable three-frame run.

Not a song that was really asking for a rock remix, but you know me; I believe guitars make everything better.  On that note, I highly recommend checking out Powerglove’s other work.  They’re a bit unpolished at times, but have more hits than misses.

Decisive Battle-FF6

I’d like to introduce everyone to a little concept I like to call the Cognitive Suckerpunch.  I’m sure there’s an official term for what I’m thinking of that’s far less idiotic, but for now, let’s just work with what we have.

Anyway, rather than give you an exhaustive definition of what Cognitive Suckerpunch refers to, I’ll merely point to its frequent demonstration amongst the songs on this list.  Three tracks out of the five start out kind of lame (Albatross) or merely normal (OWA), or, in the case of this one, strange, and then get all kickass out of nowhere.

Decisive Battle, for reasons known only to the arranger, starts out with a distinct soft porn vibe — I’m basing this on descriptions heard from those who sully themselves with such dreck, of course — and then BLAM!!  Stratokenzildj, the dragon of metal, lays waste to the cities of men!  Fuzzily-backlit nudity first, followed by Sidewinder missiles, and absolutely nothing in between!  I literally can’t listen to this song without envisioning an indistinct, satin-heavy tryst that is abruptly torn asunder by an intense aerial dogfight.

And both of the jets involved are F-15s.  That’s dirty and hot.

One Winged Angel-FF7

A remix of one of the most notorious game tracks on either side of the Rio Grande, and itself more than likely the best-known remix on this list.

For me, first impressions counted for a lot with this one.  I had never heard the Advent Children rock arrangment prior to actually seeing Advent Children.  I had heard the orchestral version, which is what this one appears to be at first.  It kicks in at the start of Cloud and Sephiroth’s climactic confrontation, and had me ho-humming a bit, initially.  Actually, I think it was more of a “ho-HURK!“, because metal armageddon saw fit to ensue right in the middle of my snark.

One second, I was all, “It’s a no-holds-barred slugfest between least-charismatic and most-overused!  Who will emerge the victor?” in my 1930s radio voice; the next, “Gah!  My nipples!  Like diamonds!”

It creates something of a conflict of conscience, actually, because aside from accompanying the final showdown between the world’s two prettiest men, the only other thing One Winged Angel can score would be the opening of a hell portal in the sky, with demon babies gnawing on frightened villagers, and such.  What I’m saying is, I’d feel better about swinging my cat around my head to something more positive and constructive.

‘Fraid it’s still awesome, though.  Sorry.  Nothing I can do about it.

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2 Comments

    • Your whatnow? Never mind, I don’t want to know. It is however an awesome remix, indeed. If you get the chance to see Video Games Live (I did an article about them back in ’07 and they appear to still be touring), they put together a pretty unbelievable show. I got to see One Winged Angel (along with many others) performed with a full orchestra and choir.

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