I’ve always been a big fan of OCRemix, and just last month the video game fan-driven community of musicians celebrated its 15th birthday. It’s a site that I’ve kept up with on-and-off over the years, but it’s great to see that it still seems to be going strong. As a toast to it’s success, I’ve compiled a list of 10 of my favorite tracks from the site, a list that I think puts a good emphasis over the talent and diversity that can be heard in the vast library of music that can be found there.
1) Ska Buffet (All You Can Eat: Clean Version)
Game: Kirby Super Star
Artists: AMT, Avaris, Cyril the Wolf, Level 99, LuIzA, PrototypeRaptor, Swann, The OverClocked Plaid Muffins, Xenon Odyssey
This bouncy, ska tribute to the pink puff ball’s endless gluttony wins big points with me for having a great vocal track, something that is often missing from most OCRemix releases. Also, the version listed on OCRemix’s site labels this as the “clean version,” which gives me a chuckle, since somewhere out there someone has released an explicit remix of a Kirby theme, of all things.
OCRemix is overwhelmingly dominated with tracks derived from 8- and 16-bit classics. Therefore, I always find it great to see musicians stretch out to more modern titles, and Poolside have produced this amazing track out of a relatively obscure Super Meat Boy level theme. This incredible, epic rock-opera style track has possibly the best vocals I’ve ever heard on OCRemix, pitting singers Josh Whelchel and Melinda Hershey together as the three main characters of the game: Meat Boy, Bandage Girl, and Dr. Fetus.
3) The Frog Dance
Game: Chrono Trigger
As I’ve mentioned above, OCRemix is maybe a bit overrun in techno remixes of 16-bit games. The Frog Dance, derived from Chrono Trigger, more than just contributes to the oversaturation, but rather it may just be the techno-iest of the techno. Ripped straight out of a ‘90s dance club, it might not be the most unique track in existence, but there’s a catchiness to it that I find hard to forget. Of course, Frog’s Theme is excellent source material to build off of.
4) Spirit of Law
Game: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Artists: Detective Tuesday, melody
Gaming has tons of heroes, but despite his relatively down-to-earth job, I think Phoenix is one of the noblest. He’s not out to save the entire world, rather he is tasked with preserving the innocent against a system that is overwhelmingly stacked against them. The courtroom theme is suitably gloomy, but at the same time righteously persistent. And here we have a jazzy, hip hop rendition of the theme that I think captures the defiantly altruistic “justice for all” theme of the classic courtroom series.
5) Transient Shadows
Game: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
Surprise! Another SNES-inspired techno remix! Yes, I know, I know. Again, not necessarily the most interesting selection, but again, as with The Frog Dance, this track really left an impression on me. Specifically, the wild sax solo at the end always gets to me.
6) Burning Up
Game: Dr. Mario
Artist: Dj Redlight
Dr. Mario fans should be well aware of the eternal argument over the virulent puzzlers two themes: Fever and Chill. Although I think most people favor Fever as it is the default background music, Burning Up completely opened my eyes to the lesser appreciated of the two tracks. The most prominent feature of this track is its radical organ solo which combines with its squeaky sci-fi take on the classic composition to elevate this to one of the site’s best remixes that lacks vocals.
It’s been a long time since Tetris burned the famous Russian folk song Korobeiniki into our brains. This epic collaboration between various remixers and vocalists is not so much a remix of the tune of the ubiquitously-known theme, rather you could probably consider a rewriting of the lyrics. In this version, from four separate vocalists, each representing one type of tetromino, we are told the tale Tetris from the point of view of the falling blocks, replete with characterizations of their own personal idiosyncrasies.
8) Static Aversion
Game: Silent Hill 2
Artists: Children of the Monkey Machine, Steve Pordon
Resident Evil always seems to take a top spot in rankings of video game music from professional sites. This has always been surprising to me since I can’t seem to remember a single bit of music from that series. I think that is because the background music in RE tends to be more atmospheric in nature, meant to subtly help amplify the mood rather than gain attention for itself. The same could possibly be said for the music of the Silent Hill series, but for some reason, I’ve found the rambling dissonance of Akira Yamaoka’s compositions have lingered with me far more. Static Aversion represents a fairly long-winded tribute to Silent Hill 2’s haunting sounds. It doesn’t really pick up until about the three minute mark, but I think its worth a listen for any fans of Silent Hill.
9) Voodoo, Roots ‘n Grog
Game: The Secret of Monkey Island
Artist: Diggi Dis
This track is a remix that combines LeChuck’s theme and the game’s opening theme with, apparently, a little bit of Sagat’s theme from Street Fighter 2 of all things. I think this one is noteworthy because of its elaborate instrumentals, which most prominently feature trombone, but also piano, some funk synth and even a chiptune breakdown which manages to feel right at home.
10) Tutti I Frutti: The Ballad of Piantee Joe
Game: Super Mario Sunshine
Artist: MC Final Sigma, Sir Jordanius
Despite it’s age, OCRemix is still very much a site that gets frequent updates, and I thought it would be best to complete the list with a remix that just saw recent release. Tutti I Frutti is touted as the site’s first composition derived from Super Mario Sunshine, and the result has definitely been worth the wait. Tutti I Frutti is a funky track that introduces us to Piantee Joe, a sly-witted, not entirely all-above-the-table fruit salesman from Isle Delfino. While the melody here is excellent, the lyrics are actually some of the most cleverly-written that I’ve ever heard from the site.