Top Ten Fan Arrangements
There is little dispute to how much awesome music has come out of the video game industry in this past two decades. Music that has gotten us ready for battle, created a unique atmosphere or even made us cry like little babies. From epic RPGs to high octane first person shooters, there is something for everyone can enjoy listening to in or out of the game. Heck, there is even a good chance a few tunes might catch the interest of folks who have never even played video games before.
To celebrate these iconic themes, soundtracks and more, people around the world have used their musical talents to recreate their favorite video game tracks. Whether its providing lyrics, remixing, or rearranging, the amount of musical fan contributions to the video game community is staggering to say the least. There are even websites, such as OCRemix, dedicated to this craft and exploding with popluarity while others find their niche on Youtube channels. Though their rewards are few, due to copy right restrictions, these talented musicians deserve as much praise as they can get for the wonderful music they continue to make.
To honor everyone who uses their spare time to giving their own unique twist on video game culture. Here is a list of my personal favorite fan arrangements and remixes of iconic video game music. Keep in mind that this is a personal list of songs that I have enjoyed and am by no means rating them. If there are any songs not mentioned here that you feel is worthy of recognition, by all means, post the name of the song and artist in the comments.
As a fan of OCRemix, I was over the moon when they announced their first ever album. On top of that, it was an album full of remixes from one of my all time favorite video games series, Megaman. While each and ever song that “For Everlasting Peace” made me have a serious nostalgia trip, not all of them managed to hit that soft spot like “Tres Bonne” did. The Bonne Pirate theme from Megaman Legends, Remixed by Rexy is just as bouncy as its original. But like other tracks in the album, it takes its source material and puts a new spin on the sound and notes. Extending a two minute song to almost to twice its original length. No other song on the album, next to Spark Madrill remix, makes me smile quite as much as this remix. Taking me right back to my first time playing Megaman Legends and having to fight the cooky Bonne Pirate family and thwarting their various schemes.
Easily one of the best songs of the Halo 4 soundtrack given a bit of a beat yet still retaining the somber tone that made fans choke up. What impresses me about this remix is that while it is based off another song, it almost sounds like its own unique track. Part of the reason I believe, is due to the fact that while the cords taking from the original song are the most heartrenching, it is played in a way that sounds more hopeful than sad. Like whatever heartbreak or sadness your experiencing will not last, and it will heal in time. I heard this song before ever seeing anything Halo 4 related and enjoyed it enough to look up the original piece and the infamous scene that goes along with it. All I can say is, bravo for Neil Davidge for composing such beautiful music and Koan Sound for providing such a wonderful remix.
While I’m sure there are better remixes/rearrangements of the Phoenix Wright soundtrack, I can’t help but a warm and fuzzy feeling in my gut every time I hear this song. True to its source material, it is bouncy and upbeat but it also has something else that really appeals to my childhood. It sounds like something straight out of a John Hugh’s movie or a old cartoon that I watched growing up. It may have been silly or sappy but it was just so enthusiastic and happy you can’t help but love it. Good to know that WillRock is keeping the sound of the 80’s alive and well, even if the song he used came out an entire decade later.
Not gonna lie, this remix gave me a serious case of nostalgia chills. And why not? The Shredder boss music from Turtles in Time played with a hard core metal sound? It fits like a proverbial bladed glove. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a fan remix that represented a character, villian or otherwise so well. And what is amazing is that any of the Shredder’s various incarnations, the movie, the tv show, the video games, comics, etc would be a perfect match for anyone of them. I dare someone with the skills to take this song and make a tribute music video with this song to clips of the various Shredder’s in TMNT over the years. I gaurentee it will be awesome.
Picking a rearrangement for Skyrim was extremely difficult, due to the fact that there have been a ton of really good ones. In the end, I was forced to pick between this remix and cover performed by Peter Hollens and Lindsey Stirling (If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend doing so). And while I adore the 120 tracks performed by only one voice and one violin, I can’t help but admit that the marriage of both the electric and acoustic guitar in Bradon Strader‘s version is everything I ever wanted in the Skyrim main theme. Even the added sound effects in the beginning and ending of a crackling fire, make it sound like the song is telling a tale of the epic adventures had during the day. And I don’t know about you but I would love to fight a dragon one on one with rock guitar in the background.
I never got the chance to play Chrono Trigger during my childhood and only recently picked it up on a friend recommendation. And even after a few weeks of playing I understand why they call it one of the greatest JRPG’s of all time. One of the game’s major strengths is its ability to set the atmosphere for each time period traveled to. Established not just through the visual differences, but with an effective soundtrack. The one that most fans remember the best, and for good reason, is the theme of the Kingdom of Zeal. A divided time in Chrono’s world where a race of beings harnessed the supernatural to create a utopia in the sky. This rearrangment by Mathew Valante for the unfortunately canceled Chrono Trigger Reserection project, both pays homage to the original and enhances it all at the same time. Capturing the very same atmosphere that took our breath away when the intrepid time travelers first set foot on the floating kingdom.
It never ceases to amaze me how certain musical artists can take pieces of music that are less than two minutes long and create something amazing. The sad saxophone that was the main appeal of Fortune’s theme from MGS2, is instead replaced by a guitar and in all honesty, sounds a lot better. So much that it even people who have never even heard of Metal Gear Solid can enjoy this calming melody. In fact, I attended a local yoga class and was surprised to hear this tune come on instead of the usual Yoga style music. Though I recognized it right away, other people in the class had no idea what it was from but still loved it. Even asking the teacher where they could find it. I couldn’t help but laugh at their expressions when they were told it was based off music from a video game. The fact that a song that was originally intended for a action oriented game to be remade to the point it could be used for something supposed to be as relaxing as Yoga is no small feat. Props to Vigilante for taking such a short piece and making it more accessible.
When it comes to lyrics, I am extremely picky especially if the song never had lyrics to begin with. That is not the case with Erutan, who continues to impress me with each new song she puts out. Not only are the lyrics to this Final Fantasy 9 song well written, Erutan provided a perfect combination of drums, harp, guitar, and recorder all topped off with beautiful vocals. Though I am slowly becoming a fan of her original songs, this was the first song of her’s I heard and it is still my favorite. Telling the story of the female knight torn between her duty and what she believes is the right thing to do. Classic tale from a classic game with a beautiful voice singing it like a lullaby.
One of the most important aspects of video game music is to establish a setting. Breathing life into it and making it feel like a real place. Considering how much time those of us who have played Majora’s Mask spent in Clock Town, it almost became a real place. Knowing each of the characters as they passed by in the street, their jobs, their dreams and even their way of handling the dread of impending doom. The rearrangment of the Clock Town theme, performed by Theopany for the Time’s End album, paints a perfect picture of the bustling town as people go about their daily lives, preparing for a festival that may never come. The added atmosphere courtasy of the sound effects: the sound of townsfolk, CooCoos, children playing and even the all important chime of the clock tower make Clock Town sound more alive than ever. Bringing into our minds the very same visuals that we know to associate with those sounds.It takes a powerful piece of music in order to have this kind of effect. Much like the rest of the album, Theopany has managed to showcase all that fans loved about Majora’s mask, its despair and the hope in spite of it.
In the ever increasingly frustrating wait for Kingdom Hearts 3, its no surprise fans are doing all they can to ease their impatience. Some writing speculative stories, creating artwork or even rearranging music from the series’ impressive soundtrack. However, out of all the fan creations I have seen/heard for the Kingdom Hearts 3, none get me quite as hyped for the game than Light of the Worlds by Field of Reeds. Using several songs used throughout the series, Xehanort’s theme, Organization 13, Dearly Beloved, and Desati, Field of Reeds created a would be final battle piece for when the time comes face the individual who started the events of the series. From the chilling opening of Destai, all the way to the finale featuring the series theme of Dearly Beloved, this track is paced well and a perfect background for all interpretions of how this epic conflict will finally conclude.