Of attractive tracks
March 21, 2015
Or rather, of game music that gives me the urge to arrange it.
Although I stopped long ago working on specific game songs on people requests, I still like being introduced to game soundtracks I don't know about yet via suggestions. The thing is, I turn a lot of suggestions down too, and pretty much always the same way : "This song is not the sort I like to arrange". I figured I should probably shed some light over this matter and my peculiar tastes, as it sometimes sounds pretty paradoxal - I mean some of you sometimes serve "rock-ready" songs to me. I can never explain why I don't pick them in just one sentence.
So what's the sort of song I like to arrange after all ? Let's figure it out, going through a few well-chosen examples from what I've already covered.
1. Relief, happy endings
If I go back to the roots, I fell in love with game music back in the NES era. The first time I reached the credits of Mega Man, the melody I heard then struck a chord within me (thank you Manami Matsumae !). For the record, I covered it twice - listen to "See You Tomorrow" and "Heart Cannon" - and truth be told, I would not mind covering it again and again.
After hearing that one song, I wanted to beat every game I got my hands on, just to be able to hear how the credits, or ending song sounded like. And nowadays, even though I play a lot less than I used to in the past, I still yearn for that feeling of deep relief, or what I think my fellow remixer and friend Rexy spoke once as the "everybody's-buddies-again" theme.
Now if you have a look at the tracks I've arranged in the past, you can see a lot of such songs. Too many for it to be just a coincidence ! Not just credits songs of course, sometimes stage songs with a similar feeling to them as well (Pop n' Twinbee has a lot of those for example). Here are a few really good ones :
- Star Fox : Credits
- Duck Tales : Moon Stage
- Super Mario Kart : Credits
- Mario Kart 64 : Credits
- Mario Kart 7 : Rainbow Road
- Kirby Superstar : Credits
- Super Mario Galaxy : Gusty Garden
Those songs are often overlooked by guitar arrangers, who mostly go for more rock appealing songs (see my 2nd criteria below), hence why I've often been tagged as the guy who covers upbeat and cheerful songs, and I don't mind at all.
Some themes that fall into that category and that I plan on covering in the future :
- Sparkster / Rocket Knight Adventure : Ending part 2
- Little Nemo : Ending
2. Epic stuff, final battle-ish, or utter-desperate !
Before going further, let me just say that by an "epic song" I mean a song that sounds heroic, with very powerful feelings going on. I insist on that because it seems to be an overused adjective nowadays.
If you're familiar with how I turned into a guitar arranger of game music, you probably know that the first rock arrangement I ever heard, and that lead me to do it myself a few years later, is none other than a ridiculously good 90's TV show opening, Televisator 2's version of the Street Fighter 2 title screen theme. This song has that heroic feel I'm talking about, and when arranged for guitar, it's magnified a hundred times. I just love that sort of vibe in music. Noticing that encouraged me to look for this in other game soundtracks. Below are a few arrangements of such songs :
- Super Scope 6 : Lazerblazer "Confront"
- Double Dragon 2 : Title screen
- Lifeforce : Ratis
- Mega Man : Ice Man
And sometimes it gets over the top. I've become fond of final battle music where that heroic vibe mixes together with a desperate touch, like the fate of the universe depends on this very moment. These songs are often personal favorites of mine :
- Thunder Force 5 & 6 - The Justice Ray Part 2 & 3
- Super Mario Galaxy 2 - Final Bowser Battle
- Gunstar Heroes - Empire Final Assault
Seriously, the "Justice Ray" themes that were written by Hyakutaro Tsukumo, parts 1 to 5, are probably the most perfect embodiments of what really gives me thrills in music. I've only covered 2 of them, but that was before I heard there were others, otherwise I'd probably have done a full Justice Ray medley !
I have more stuff like that in my "bingo list" of course, like :
- Shadow Of The Colossus : Resurrected Power
- Final Fantasy IV : Final Battle
- Gradius 2 : Burning Heat
For the fun of it
By now you probably know better how I pick most of my source material. There are exceptions of course. Collaborations for example, lead me to cover stuff that I'd probably not cover if it was me alone. The most important thing after all, is to have fun.
Stay tuned, more music will come this year for sure !