Whether you're relaxing at home, zipping through town in the car, pumping your blood with vigorous exercise, or just trying to get through a day at the office, video game soundtracks are the perfect accompaniment to any silent moment in need of a little energy. Video game music remix community and overall dynamite free archive OverClocked ReMix is celebrating its tenth anniversary this month, and what better way for me to mark the occasion than by sharing ten stellar selections from the site's vast archive of fantastic music? From Mega Man to Dr. Mario to Castlevania to Sonic the Hedgehog and other favorite franchises, get comfortable and open your ears and your mind for these unique interpretations of gaming favorites.
Nintendo's Dr. Mario for the Nintendo Entertainment System and beyond is a puzzle favorite, but in my world it's commonly known for the "Fever" theme. I've never been a "Chill" fan, but this remix of that background tune from Dj Redlight, "Burning Up", tempts me into changing my opinion. You've never heard an organ rock like this in a gaming context.
I'm also not generally a fan of techno/dance music, but leave it to Disco Dan and his "Get Down" version of Snake Man's theme from Mega Man 3 for the NES. The original basic 8-bit melody is interlaced throughout the piece after kicking off with the memorable opening riff. It was difficult to pick just a single Disco Dan remix from his catalog of Mega Man work, but ultimately I find myself returning to this one more than the others because, darn it, I just like the original Snake Man theme.
You may remember Digimatic's "Simon's Town" version of "The Silence of the Daylight" from Castlevania II: Simon's Quest for the NES from a Halloween feature I ran here on PTB a while ago, but that doesn't make it any less entrancing. It's still my favorite of the "Daylight" remixes and still has me wishing that the original song would turn up in Castlevania games more often. It deserves to be up there with iconic series themes such as "Vampire Killer" and "Beginning".
Sonic the Hedgehog 3 from the Sega Genesis library is packed with peppy music to match its speedy action and spiraling level design, but my favorite track has always been the theme from the Hydrocity Zone. Housethegrate takes things up a notch with "Walk on Water", a jazzy improvement on what was already a top-notch tune. Watch out for that brass and keep moving! As an aside, the Sonic franchise seems to inspire too much insipid techno in the remix community, so a little jazz is a nice switch.
Another selection previously featured here on PTB, "Monstrous Turtles!" from Zircon brings a fresh epic sound to Forest of Illusion and subcastle themes from the Super NES classic, Super Mario World. As I said once before, this remix was played in the lead-up to the Video Games Live concert I attended in the closing days of E3 this year. As tremendous as it sounds here, just imagine the effect it had on a crowd of game music junkies when blasted over a proper amphitheater sound system.
Yoshi's Story from the Nintendo 64 catalog isn't often remembered for memorable good music, but Bladiator's "Oh, Say Can You Yoshi" piano solo version of the game's title theme and "Yoshi's Theme". In a genre overwhelmed by techno dance beats, it's refreshing to hear someone sit at the piano and make it sing. The best part? No baby dinosaurs singing along with mystery nonsense lyrics. Yoshi!
If you want to get funky then look no further than Dan Studnicky's "Flashbulb Junk", a jazzy take on the NES version of Maniac Mansion's "Flashbulb Funk" background tune that served as photographer Michael's theme. Complete with slap bass and an emphasis on the saxophone, it's difficult not to strut while listening to this one.
One of the many great original characters from the Super NES favorite Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, Booster, sports a really rocking theme song called "And My Name's Booster" that I believe is the best song in the entire game, but djpretzel has found a way to build on it for "Booster Tarantino" by loading it up with a smooth mellow beat in a style meant to ape the film Pulp Fiction somehow. I don't quite hear the influence, but don't let that stop you from enjoying it. When this game originally released, my friends and I used to pull all-nighters making our way through the adventure, but we were often held up by playing and replaying the Booster Tower segment of the game for fun rather than progress.
Following on in the spirit of the previously listed "Monstrous Turtles!" comes "Devastation's Doorway" from Sole Signal. This remix combines the "Koopa's Road" and "Koopa's Theme" songs from Super Mario 64 into a single darkly rocking musical experience that fondly recalls the Bowser encounters from Nintendo's groundbreaking N64 adventure. Swing that turtle!
I liked the music from Mario Kart 64 so much back in my high school years that I bought the CD soundtrack and used it as driving music when cruising around town in my first car. The staff roll "Victory Lap" tune queued up whenever my travels were coming to an end, such as coming home from work after a long weekend shift at the hardware store and, most memorably, while driving away from high school for the final time the day before graduation. Sole Signal and Tweek team up to present "Day's End", a perfect reworking of the ideal theme for coming to a close.