Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The A-Z of PC Game Music Remixes and Covers



Introduction

As you all know, I'm a big fan of Video Game Music, especially PC Game music. Whenever I search YouTube for Best VGM lists however I notice there's quite a lot of multi-platform VGM lists but not many that specifically target PC games. Nowadays, multi-platform probably makes more sense since soundtracks tend to sound the same no matter what platform you play on, although this was a different matter in the 80s and 90s. Regardless, I still wanted a list that focused on PC games since most of my gaming experience was on this platform and there's only a few non-PC games with soundtracks that I remember fondly (e.g. Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage, etc.).

I also like game music remixes and covers, especially ones that manage to sound better than the original. This is quite easy with several of the older games since they didn't have as good hardware or the space to accommodate music performed with live instruments but is a bit harder to pull off with newer tracks; usually in those instances you would need to offer some neat variation in order to keep things interesting. Anyway there I was the other day thinking "I have all these awesome remixes and covers based on PC games to share, but I need a fun way of conveying them to the public".

This is when I thought why not an A-Z of PC Game Music Remixes and Covers? That meant scouring my current VGM collection and the Internet for remixes and covers for 26 PC games, and not just any remixes and covers, but the best that letter had to offer! While you might think this doesn't sound too difficult it ended up taking me a solid couple of days in order to compile the list. Why did it take so long? Well for letters that had several game remixes and covers, it meant much time was spent thinking which would be the most appropriate? Which one for this letter was my favourite? Sometimes I'd pick one over another because the game the remix was based off would be a PC only game rather than a multiplatform. I also sometimes didn't pick remixes based on the most popular or well-known of tracks, simply because I preferred the remix of the lesser known one.

Then there were the letters which had very few PC game remixes, mainly because there weren't many games that started with them (e.g. the letter "Y"). For these letters, I sometimes had to just rely on what was available, which means I may not have played the game or even like the remix or cover, but it's the best I could find scouring the Internet. This only occurred a couple of times though and generally I think I'm pretty happy with the end result so without further ado, here's my pick for the A-Z of PC Game Music Remixes and Covers!



A is for... Another World

  • Game: Another World (aka Out of this World)
  • Original Track: Intro Theme
  • Track Name: Another World -Tribute Remix-
  • Arranger/Remixer: Andrea Milana
  • Composer(s): Jean-Francois Freitas

[ DOWNLOAD from Remix64 ]

There I was thinking there would be a lot of choices for the letter A, I mean there were quite a few games I played starting with the letter such as A-10 Tank Killer, Age of Empires, Alpha Protocol, Apache Longbow, Arcanum, A-Train and Another World, just to name a few. However it turns out I couldn't find many PC game remixes or covers for this letter. Sure there was an old Age of Empires remix on OCRemix that I listened to ages ago and while I find that it's okay it didn't really use any source material that really resonated with me. I was disappointed there were no remixes or covers of the music from Anachronox though since there were some real rippers in that soundtrack.

So which game did I settle with? Another World (aka Out of this World), specifically the intro track. The brooding 80s style sci-fi synths along with a snare drum segment seems appropriate backing music for a professor working in a high-security physics laboratory on a dark, stormy night. There are a few remixes of this over on remix64 but my favourite is the one by Andrea Milana mainly because it doesn't deviate too much from the original and even manages to add a piano as an accompaniment which I thought was a nice touch.

B is for... Battlefield

  • Game: Battlefield series
  • Original Track: Battlefield Theme
  • Track Name: The Dream, The Theater, The Battlefield
  • Arranger/Remixer: Remo Baldi
  • Composer(s): Joel Eriksson

[ DOWNLOAD from remobaldi.com ]

I must admit that when I was thinking of the letter "B" my mind immediately went to a Battlefield remix and not just any Battlefield remix but Remo Baldi's excellent "The Dream, The Theater, The Battlefield". When this originally came out, there were many YouTube posters claiming Baldi's remix was the new Battlefield 3 theme. Many people were fooled (including myself) because it was that damn good. When the actual Battlefield 3 theme was released I was a bit disappointed since the new version was totally electronic and glitchy, with lots of static. While Baldi's is also different to the older Battlefield themes which were orchestral, at least it's a hybrid of classical instruments and rock guitar.

In terms of other remixes out there for PC games starting with the letter "B", OCRemix has a few based on Baldur's Gate and Beyond Good & Evil, although if I were to give an honourable mention to one, it would have to be 7bit Hero's Bubble Bobble remix titled "Bubble Dragon". A lot of work must've gone into this track and it even has its own music video! I know that Bubble Bobble's first platform wasn't the PC but it was eventually ported to it as I mentioned in my Where are they now? article.

C is for... Command & Conquer

  • Game: Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn
  • Original Track: Act on Instinct
  • Track Name: Act on Instinct (Orchestral)
  • Arranger/Remixer: Sebastian Aav
  • Composer(s): Frank Klepacki

[ DOWNLOAD from moddb.com ]

This was another letter which didn't take me long to think of a game to target for remixes. I was a big fan of Westwood Studios back in the 90s and especially a fan for arguably their most famous game, Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn. Command & Conquer remixes have been around for awhile as well. In fact I remember downloading C&C remixes over 10 years ago with some very good ones by remixers Scott Peeples and Bart Klepka (I'd recommend you check them out if you get a chance). The one I've featured here however I stumbled across by chance.

One of my favourite tracks from the original Command & Conquer has to be "Act on Instinct" which plays on the very first mission of the GDI campaign, one of my most memorable gaming experiences. I just got such a rush every time I made that beach landing with "Act on Instinct" blaring through the speakers - and to this day, "Act on Instinct" is what goes through my head whenever I think of beach landings with modern vehicles or hovercraft. Anyway, I was searching on YouTube for "Act on Instinct" remixes when I stumbled upon one that is apparently used for the UT3 multiplayer mod Renegade-X, a remake of Command & Conquer: Renegade (which I believe was thoroughly underrated). Now apparently Sebastian Aav did these tracks but somehow the one on his website sounds slightly different to the one off moddb's website. I kind of prefer the moddb version though since it has a neat bridge at 1:52.

With respect to other PC game remixes starting with the letter "C" there are quite a few on OCRemix based on Commander Keen, The Curse of Monkey Island and some games I've never heard of like Cave Story and Cardinal Quest.

D is for... Deus Ex

  • Game: Deus Ex
  • Original Track: UNATCO
  • Track Name: Deus Ex - UNATCO Orchestra
  • Arranger/Remixer: Blake Robinson
  • Composer(s): Michiel Van Den Bos

[ DOWNLOAD from soundcloud.com ]

There are actually quite a few PC games starting with the letter "D" that have great remixes but the games that have the most remixes by far are games from the Doom and Deus Ex series. In fact, both have been the subject of special remix projects with mini albums or EPs being created for both. I thoroughly recommend any fans of these games to check out the Dark Side of Phobos Doom Remix Project (especially Evil Horde's "Hangarmageddon", based on the Doom's first level) and Deus Ex Sonic Augmentation which even contains remixes by one of the original composers, Alexander Brandon.

However, I decided not to feature any music from these collections and instead went for what is my favourite remix of one of my favourite tracks in the game, namely the track that plays when you enter UNATCO for the first time (that's United Nations Anti-Terrorist Coalition to the uninitiated). While there are some good remixes out there, including one on Deus Ex Sonic Augmentation by halc called "Human Soldier" my favourite is an orchestral take on it by Blake Robinson called simply "Deus Ex - UNATCO Orchestra". While some may call it blasphemy to use an orchestra for an electronic soundtrack, I think Blake Robinson has done a great job and if there ever was to be a movie on Deus Ex, I'd be ecstatic to hear something similar to this being included as part of its soundtrack.

E is for... Elder Scrolls

  • Game: The Elder Scrolls series
  • Original Tracks: Call of Magic, Peaceful Waters, The Road Most Travelled, Reign of the Septims, Bloody Blades, Auriel's Ascension and Sons of Skyrim
  • Track Name: The Elder Scrolls Guitar Medley
  • Arranger/Remixer: FamilyJules7X
  • Composer(s): Jeremy Soule

[ DOWNLOAD from MEGA.co.nz ]

Once again I'm cheating by featuring an entire series of music but that's because there isn't really that much I could find with respect to PC game music remixes or covers starting with "E", except for ones based on the Elder Scrolls games. So then the issue becomes which Elder Scrolls game do I feature? Well thankfully, FamilyJules7X has solved this conundrum for me as he's done an epic guitar medley based on music from the three most recent Elder Scrolls games - so basically all the ones with Jeremy Soule as a composer. While FamilyJules7X often does metal/rock remixes/covers of games (which I'm not always a fan of - of metal remixes, not FamilyJules7X) I must admit he's done a terrific job with this medley, even managing to incorporate what I think is a tin whistle at the beginning (for Morrowind's Call of Magic), an acoustic guitar rendition of Peaceful Waters at 1:17, piano for Auriel's Ascension at 4:06 and grabbing some mates to do the guttural vocals for Skyrim's theme at 4:38.

F is for... FTL

  • Game: FTL: Faster than Light
  • Original Track: Space Cruise
  • Track Name: FTL Theme "Epic Rock" Cover
  • Arranger/Remixer: Little V
  • Composer(s): Ben Prunty

[ DOWNLOAD from soundcloud.com ]

It's usually some time before a game starts to have remixes based on them, usually because it takes some time for a game to work its way into the hands of the gaming public. Also, it only tends to be AAA titles that often have remixes done on them for the very same reason: the more popular a game is, the more people have experienced its music. So I was quite surprised when I discovered that an indie game that's only been around for a couple years already has some pretty good covers and remixes. Admittedly, FTL: Faster than Light's soundtrack is pretty good (thanks to the talents of Ben Prunty) that I even managed to grab myself a copy. However, it wasn't until I came across this post on Ben Prunty's blog that I was made aware of the number of remixes and covers there were out there based off FTL's soundtrack.

The two that stand out for me are Torzelan's "Mantis" cover and Little V's "Space Cruise" cover. While they're both very good I decided to go with Little V's cover since as Ben Prunty puts it:

"Little V turns Space Cruise into an inspiring, epic rock piece with such style and panache that I'm left speechless... I now have a severely unhealthy man-crush on the guy."

G is for... Guild Wars 2

  • Game: Guild Wars 2
  • Original Track: Fear Not This Night
  • Track Name: Fear Not This Night - Guild Wars 2
  • Arranger/Remixer: Malukah
  • Composer(s): Jeremy Soule

[ DOWNLOAD from malukah.com ]

Hey, how about that. Jeremy Soule makes an appearance on this list again as a composer (and trust me, it won't be the last). I actually struggled to find any remixes or covers for PC games starting with "G" except for Grim Fandango and Guild Wars. While I adore the soundtracks for both of those games, it was trickier to find a remix or cover that I actually liked. This is when I noticed the huge number of covers of "Fear Not This Night" on YouTube, the only vocal track to be included on the Guild Wars 2 soundtrack. I rate the original track as one of Jeremy Soule's best works so it's not surprising that many people have taken a crack at covering it.

One of the best covers is by an artist who is no stranger to awesome covers known as Malukah. With help from her friends Lara and Taylor, Malukah manages a very good rendition of what is an exceptionally difficult song to sing.

H is for... Hitman

  • Game: Hitman: Codename 47
  • Original Track: Main Title (Extended Version)
  • Track Name: Contract Cleaner
  • Arranger/Remixer: Sonicade
  • Composer(s): Jesper Kyd

[ DOWNLOAD from OCRemix.org ]

Initially I was hoping to find some remixes based on one of the Half-Life games under the letter "H" but sadly there's actually not much out there besides some Half-Life 2 remixes that are too "out there" for my liking. Why aren't there any remixes based on Half-Life 1's credits theme? I would love it if someone could remix that.

Anyway, all that's left are remixes based on Hitman: Codename 47 - a game I haven't really played besides the demo - although that was enough for me to listen to the source material of this remix: the main title theme. Jesper Kyd's title track oozes coolness and sophistication and it's good to see that Sonicade managed to retain those qualities in this remix titled " Contract Cleaner".

I is for... Invisible War

  • Game: Deus Ex: Invisible War
  • Original Tracks: Lower Seattle and Heron's Loft
  • Track Name: Tears in Rain
  • Arranger/Remixer: Level 99
  • Composer(s): Alexander Brandon

[ DOWNLOAD from OCRemix.org ]

I was actually struggling for awhile trying to find some good remixes for a PC game beginning with the letter "I". I did find some amateur covers based on music from the Interstate games and there was one remix for Icewind Dale but I didn't really fancy it too much. I wish there were some remixes based on the space sim game Inferno since Alien Sex Fiend and Barry Leitch created some pretty rockin' music. Alas, there doesn't appear to be any.

So I then thought I'd go about this in a different way (aka cheating). How about I find a game which happens to have a sub-heading beginning with "I"? With the new criteria it didn't take me long to pick a remix after listening to OCRemix's Deus Ex Sonic Augmentation EP which, as I mentioned earlier, contains some choice remixes based on the Deus Ex franchise. While most of them are based off the original Deus Ex (which arguably has the best soundtrack in the franchise) there are a couple of gems based on the other games, including the one I've chosen to feature here from Deus Ex: Invisible War.

While many fans deride Invisible War as a bad game, its soundtrack still manages to hold up pretty well at least. Level 99 has managed to create a moody and cool remix of the music that plays when you're in Lower Seattle and it's even got a grungy sound to it, which is appropriate considering the location.

J is for... Jagged Alliance 2

  • Game: Jagged Alliance 2
  • Original Track: Map Travel Music
  • Track Name: Soldiers of Fortune
  • Arranger/Remixer: Bart Klepka
  • Composer(s): Kevin Manthei

[ DOWNLOAD from FilePlanet ]

I had to dig into the really old stuff to find a remix for a PC game starting with the letter "J" and I ended up recalling a real gem that Bart Klepka created around 2000 (if the timestamp is to be believed) - that's 14 years ago ladies and gentlemen! Despite its age, "Soldiers of Fortune", a remix based off one of the map travel themes in Jagged Alliance 2.

When I first saw this remix, I was actually a bit surprised since the Jagged Alliance games rarely receive any attention with respect to their soundtracks. I mean, if you listen to the original soundtracks, most of the tracks aren't really conducive to a remix or a cover, yet Bart Klepka managed to do up the tempo on this track and deliver something so good I think I prefer his version over the original. I especially like the bugle segments at 1:28 and 3:54. It could almost convince you that your motley band of mercenaries are heroes, almost.

Nothing will ever beat the JA2 laptop theme though - that still remains my favourite :).

K is for... Commander Keen

  • Game: Commander Keen 4 (Secret of the Oracle)
  • Original Track: Tropical Ghost Oasis
  • Track Name: man siecht sich galaxie
  • Arranger/Remixer: analoq
  • Composer(s): Bobby Prince

[ DOWNLOAD from OCRemix ]

Just as I did with the letter "I", I have sort of cheated with this one :). While technically I suppose Commander Keen should come under "C" the executable file for the Commander Keen games was often "KEEN.EXE" so I'm going to use that as my lame excuse.

When I looked for games beginning with the letter "K" with remixes or covers, there wasn't much out there. There was a King's Quest V remix I found on OCRemix but I didn't really rate it - which is why I decided to go for a Commander Keen remix instead since there's a better selection to choose from. "You've Got to Eat Your Vegetables" from Secret of the Oracle (or Keen 4) seems to be the most popular in terms of remixes (which might have something to do with the song playing when you first meet with the infamous Dopefish) although my favourite remix would have to be an old one by analoq called "man siecht sich galaxie" based off Bobby Prince's "Tropical Ghost Oasis".

The track starts off pretty trippy but then becomes a pretty chilled and groovy piece of music before becoming very Kraftwerk-like around 3:08.

L is for... Lemmings

  • Game: Lemmings
  • Original Track: tim1
  • Track Name: Lemmings Tune 13
  • Arranger/Remixer: burnt toast
  • Composer(s): Tim Wright

[ DOWNLOAD from Remix64 ]

There are actually quite a few remixes and covers out there for PC games starting with the letter "L", but it seems that two stand out from the rest: Leisure Suit Larry and Lemmings. While I was quite tempted to upload one of the covers of Leisure Suit Larry I think the ones performed by Al Lowe are the best and if I featured one of Al Lowe's versions, it wouldn't really be a cover now, would it? :)

So I'm left with a whole bunch of Lemmings remixes. There were many I could've chosen from but I ended up going with burnt toast's "Lemmings Tune 13" remix since it only incorporates subtle changes to Tim Wright's original tune "tim1". Sometimes subtle changes are the best :).

M is for... Mass Effect

  • Game: Mass Effect
  • Original Track: M4 Part 2 by The Faunts
  • Track Name: Faunts - M4 Part 2 (Little V Cover)
  • Arranger/Remixer: Little V
  • Composer(s): The Faunts

[ DOWNLOAD from Soundcloud.com ]

When it came to the letter "M", I was glad to see that artist Little V had covered one of my favourite games of all time: Mass Effect. And not just Mass Effect, but its sequels as well!

A Canadian band called The Faunts originally composed and performed "M4 Part 2" which was the track chosen to be the credits song for the first Mass Effect game. For those who have finished the Mass Effect, you will know what I mean when I say that Mass Effect has probably one of the best credits songs of all time - it just suits the game so well. Little V decided to cover this particular track and while the overall structure and tempo is quite similar, he also manages to create a more aggressive, metal version of the track with some guttural shouting of "AND-I-NEED-YOU-TO-RE-COV-ER" which strangely enough, works well, in a Linkin Park sort of way.

N is for... Neverwinter Nights

  • Game: Neverwinter Nights
  • Original Tracks: Battle Aribeth and Main Theme
  • Track Name: Kara-Turian Nights
  • Arranger/Remixer: Ceracyst
  • Composer(s): Jeremy Soule

[ DOWNLOAD from OCRemix ]

Surprisingly I couldn't find many appealing remixes when it came to the letter "N". There are of course the many Need for Speed games to use as source material but I suspect since most of the recent ones use licensed music (which are often themselves remixes) there's actually not that much you can do there. I also thought a cover or remix of the No One Lives Forever theme would've been a good choice but again I haven't found any suitable remixes or covers. Ultimately, I had to go with a remix based on music from a very popular PC game, but also one I didn't really play that much: Neverwinter Nights.

I'm not usually a fan of remixes based on orchestral pieces, covers are fine, but remixes (especially dubstep remixes) tend to massacre their source material. Ceracyst on the other hand has done a pretty good job in keeping the remix still sound somewhat orchestral and epic, which is what you'd expect when remixing a tune by... oh look... Jeremy Soule's name popped up again :).

O is for... Oblivion

  • Game: Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
  • Original Track: Main Theme
  • Track Name: The Elder Scrolls: Rise of an Emperor
  • Arranger/Remixer: Scott Buckley
  • Composer(s): Jeremy Soule

[ DOWNLOAD from ScottBuckley.com.au ]

You're probably saying right about now "oh come on, not another Elder Scrolls remix?" and you would be right. There are so many good Elder Scrolls remixes and covers out there that it would be a crime not to feature this gem by Scott Buckley (despite me featuring yet another remix/cover based on Jeremy Soule's work). Best of all, Scott seems to be a fellow Australian (if the ".com.au" is any indication) and he's done some other choice remixes for games including Wolfenstein 3D, Dragon Age and Baldur's Gate. Scott describes his remix, "The Elder Scrolls: Rise of an Emperor", best with this sentence:

My version of the theme is rather bold and urgent, similar to the Oblivion take, but more strident like the Morrowind theme

I was originally considering placing a remix based on the classic 1991 DOS game Overlord (aka Supremacy: Your Will Be Done) for the letter "O" and while there are quite a few good ones on Remix64, Scott Buckley's rendition of the Oblivion theme was too good to pass up.

P is for... Portal

  • Game: Portal
  • Original Track: Still Alive
  • Track Name: Portal - Still Alive at the Orchestra
  • Arranger/Remixer: Blake Robinson
  • Composer(s): Jonathan Coulton

[ DOWNLOAD from Soundcloud.com ]

This is the second remix to feature Blake Robinson's work on this A-Z list of PC Game Music Remixes and Covers. Once again, Blake does an orchestral take on game music and the much loved credits music from Portal is the source material. "Still Alive" ranks up there as one of my favourite pieces of music from a computer game and I know I'm not the only one since friends who aren't usually eager to show their nerdy side have used the theme as their ringtones! A theme from a computer game as a ringtone? NOWAI! But seriously, Jonathan Coulton's masterpiece manages to merge a catchy tune with humourous lyrics so that everyone can enjoy it - even my daughter can't help humming to the music, despite some of the sadistic lyrics.

Blake Robinson's remix of the theme sadly does away with the lyrics but it amazingly sounds really good as an orchestral piece. Definitely worth a listen.

Q is for... Quest for Glory

  • Game: Quest for Glory
  • Original Track: The Magic Meadow
  • Track Name: Late Snows of Winter
  • Arranger/Remixer: jmr
  • Composer(s): Mark Seibert

[ DOWNLOAD from OCRemix ]

There aren't many games out there that start with the letter "Q" let alone PC games, so you can imagine my absolute delight when I discovered that not only was there a remix based off a PC game starting with the letter "Q" but it was based on one of my favourite games of all time: Quest for Glory.

You can check out my GOGgame Story video for the reasons why I love the game so much, but if you don't want to watch it let's just say that Quest for Glory was my favourite of all the classic Sierra adventure games mainly because it wasn't purely an adventure game - it was an adventure/RPG hybrid! Not only that, but you could play the game as one of three classes (the usual suspects of the RPG genre): Warrior, Mage or Thief, each class approaching puzzles in a different manner.

The game also had fantastic music thanks to veteran Sierra composer, Mark Seibert. One of the most loved tracks amongst Quest for Glory fans has to be "The Magic Meadow" or "Erana's Peace" (which is the name of the meadow). The music is peaceful and serene, words that also describe the location the music was composed for. The Hero is able to rest at Erana's Peace without fear of being attacked by monsters thanks to the great mage the meadow is named after. jmr's take on the tune is very faithful before 1:20 (when it starts adopting a pop music vibe thanks to a drum track) and the choice of an acoustic guitar for the primary instrument just makes sense.

R is for... Red Alert

  • Game: Command & Conquer: Red Alert
  • Original Track: Radio
  • Track Name: Transistor
  • Arranger/Remixer: Beatdrop
  • Composer(s): Frank Klepacki

[ DOWNLOAD from OCRemix ]

Surprisingly, I couldn't find many good remixes for PC games starting with the letter "R" - that or I just haven't played many games starting with the letter "R". It doesn't matter though, because earlier this year, remixer Beatdrop gave us this truly awesome remix based off the track "Radio" from Frank Klepacki's Command & Conquer: Red Alert soundtrack.

"Radio" is an interesting choice of track when you consider the most popular track from Red Alert's soundtrack would arguably be "Hell March" - although I think "Radio" was an excellent pick because it's one of the tracks most suitable for a remix thanks to its hypnotic beat.

Beatdrop basically brings the track to the 21st century through the use of high-quality samples and contemporary electronic styles such as complextro. The result is an energetic roller coaster ride of synths that makes it a worthy spiritual successor to Frank Klepacki's classic.

S is for... Starcraft

  • Game: Starcraft
  • Original Track: Terran Theme 2
  • Track Name: Starcraft Terran Theme 2 Rock Cover/Remix Version 2.0
  • Arranger/Remixer: Little V
  • Composer(s): Derek Duke and Glenn Stafford

[ DOWNLOAD from Soundcloud.com ]

Ah the letter "S". Okay, there's probably heaps of games starting with this letter and consequently, a heap of remixes however I just couldn't go past Little V's cover of Starcraft's Terran Theme 2. Basically, this is almost how I imagined the theme to go in my head when using real instruments (i.e. a real electric guitar) and it's certifiable head-banging material. Little V has even retained the synths that are prominent in the funky part of the track that starts around 1:57 - which I never was a big fan of originally but hey it's authentic! The only part I noticed deviating from the source material (and the reason I say this is "almost" how I imagined the theme to sound like) is the dramatic conclusion to the track around 3:00 - it doesn't seem as long as the original.

Anyway, it's definitely worth listening to if you enjoyed the original Starcraft soundtrack and makes a good substitute for the original track.

T is for... Team Fortress 2

  • Game: Team Fortress 2
  • Original Track: Playing with Danger and Right Behind You
  • Track Name: Electrodispenser
  • Arranger/Remixer: zircon
  • Composer(s): Mike Morasky

[ DOWNLOAD from OCRemix ]

So for the letter "T" a lot of you were probably thinking Tetris right? I mean, it's probably the most legendary game to start with that letter and it was originally released on a PC after all. There's even a gazillion remixes to choose from, some very good ones I might add such as McVaffe's "Gift from Moscow", Vurez's "The Peddler's Legacy" and Sir_NutS's more recent "Crimea River" (hopefully not a reference to recent global events).

However, I decided to buck the trend and not go for a Tetris remix and instead go for a game that is also pretty popular in its own right but doesn't have many remixes based off its soundtrack at all. The game I'm talking about is Team Fortress 2 and the remix in question is called "Electrodispenser".

zircon, one of my favourite VGM artists decided he wanted to do an electro house treatment on the Team Fortress 2 themes but the end result ends up adopting cues from other genres like dubstep. It actually took me awhile to get to like this track since it was a bit out there and was definitely a lot different to the source material. However when you get to 2:22 there's no denying that this is a Team Fortress 2 remix and by this time you'll find it very hard not to start tapping your feet to the music.

U is for... Ultima

  • Game: Ultima series
  • Original Track: Stones
  • Track Name: Stones
  • Arranger/Remixer: Ymochel the Drow
  • Composer(s): David R. Watson (Iolo) and Kathleen Jones (Gwenno)

[ DOWNLOAD from Bootstrike.com ]

For the letter "U" there were a couple of games that came to mind: Gremlin's 1991 game Utopia: Creation of a Nation and Richard Garriott's Ultima series. While there are quite a few good remixes of the music from Utopia, I decided to instead go with what is the more famous game series and searched for Ultima remixes and covers. There are quite a few of these as you can imagine when you have a series that spans for almost two decades, or over three if you count the MMORPG Ultima Online.

One of the most popular and well known pieces of music from the Ultima series has to be "Stones" written by David R. Watson and Kathleen Jones whose alter egos in Ultima are Iolo FitzOwen and Gwenno respectively. Introduced in Ultima V, it would return in every Ultima game after that, even appearing in Ultima Online!

Out of all the covers performed on "Stones", I believe that Ymochel the Drow's version is my favourite. You could just imagine yourself, sitting in one of Britannia's taverns with a flagon of ale, listening to a bard perform this melancholy tune.

V is for... VVVVVV

  • Game: VVVVVV
  • Original Track: Pushing Onwards
  • Track Name: Clubbed Baby VVVVVVeal
  • Arranger/Remixer: Danny Baranowsky
  • Composer(s): Magnus Pålsson

[ DOWNLOAD from OCRemix ]

I was actually struggling to find PC games that I played starting with the letter "V", let alone ones with awesome soundtracks worthy of remixing or covers. Consequently I had to settle for a game I've never played before but is usually lauded for having an excellent soundtrack. The game I'm talking about is 2010 platformer VVVVVV.

Listening to the original track, I can see why someone would want to use it as source material. Magnus Pålsson does a terrific job in creating a groovy, catchy chiptune that teleports you back to the days of 80s video gaming. Remixer Danny Baranowsky does a great job of placing emphasis on the addictive melody and still manages to capture a retro feel to the track despite using higher quality samples.

So even though I've never played this game and I only heard this remix for the first time in the process of compiling this list, it's thankfully one that's pretty good too.

W is for... Wing Commander

  • Game: Wing Commander
  • Original Track: Main Title Theme
  • Track Name: Wing Commander - Theme Orchestra
  • Arranger/Remixer: Blake Robinson
  • Composer(s): David Govett

[ DOWNLOAD from Soundcloud.com ]

For the letter "W" I had quite a few choices to pick from - so many classic PC games! There's Worms, Warcraft, Wacky Wheels and Wing Commander - all with pretty good soundtracks to boot! When it came down to the remixes and covers though, the quality of the Wing Commander ones seemed to stand above the rest, although I do highly recommend The Orichalcon's take on "Ashes" from Wacky Wheels.

I eventually decided to go with Blake Robinson's more traditional take on the Wing Commander theme. Consequently the melody doesn't sound different at all but the use of higher quality samples brings the theme to the 21st century. Now if only someone would do this with a live orchestra!

X is for... X-COM: UFO Defense

  • Game: X-COM: UFO Defense/UFO: Enemy Unknown
  • Original Track: Intro Theme
  • Track Name: X-COM Enemy Unknown Theme - Rocking Mix
  • Arranger/Remixer: fnotte (André Söderlund)
  • Composer(s): John Broomhall

[ DOWNLOAD from Soundcloud.com ]

For the letter "X" I was surprisingly torn between a couple of choices: Xenon 2 and X-COM: UFO Defense (a.k.a. UFO: Enemy Unknown). Xenon 2 only really had one track but it was based off the really funky hip hop dance track "Megablast" by British DJ Bomb the Bass. There's a lot of remixes of this tune, in fact there's probably more remix material here than there is for X-COM as a franchise, however when I heard fnotte's (a.k.a. André Söderlund) remixes based off the first X-COM game, I was hooked.

The first X-COM had, by today's standards, a cheesy 80s/90s rock soundtrack you'd find in action movies of the era. It was totally awesome back in the day though and I just couldn't get enough of those wailing guitar solos. John Broomhall, the genius behind Transport Tycoon's soundtrack actually did a fantastic job considering the limitations of MIDI. However, the tracks just didn't sound the same without a real electric guitar.

This is where fnotte enters the picture in being able to really make a couple of tracks from the original game rock. While I'm a big fan of the "Interceptor" theme from UFO: Enemy Unknown (and sad it wasn't included in some form in the 2012 remake), I ended up going with the main title theme since the remix really does the intro cinematic justice now. Those Mutons won't know what hit 'em.

Y is for... Yume Nikki

  • Game: Yume Nikki
  • Original Track: Barracks Settlement
  • Track Name: Now You're Alone
  • Arranger/Remixer: urdailywater
  • Composer(s): kikiyama

[ DOWNLOAD from OCRemix ]

The letter "Y" is another letter which is difficult to find at the start of a game's title, especially PC games. I wracked my brains to think of one but came up with nothing, except maybe the recent indie game The Yawhg but there aren't any remixes or covers I could find based on that game's soundtrack. What I did find was a remix for an indie Japanese PC game called Yume Nikki. I've never heard of this game before and I think it's fair to say this is a relatively obscure game to base a remix off, especially when you consider the game isn't even at version 1.0 yet and it's built using RPG Maker.

One thing going for the game is its shock value and its apparent ability in making the player really feel like they're in a dream state. Apparently the game is also rather disturbing and surreal so it's probably a game I wouldn't normally volunteer for but the soundtrack seems to be quite magical and urdailywater has done a great job with the remix that was submitted (and now hosted) on OCRemix.

Another game I've never played but another good remix.

Z is for... Zak McKracken

  • Game: Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders
  • Original Track: Intro Theme
  • Track Name: Zak McKracken (by Razor and the Scummettes)
  • Arranger/Remixer: plasm303
  • Composer(s): M. Kane & C. Grigg

[ DOWNLOAD from Remix64 ]

For the last remix on this list I decided to end with a bang. Okay, to be honest I never planned anything of the sort but through good fortune, it just turned out that way! "Z" is another letter that doesn't frequently grace the start of PC game titles although there is an old Lucasarts adventure game that has quite a few remixes based on its intro theme: Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders.

Zak McKracken was a game a bit before my time but I did play many Lucasarts adventure games that came out after it such as The Secret of Monkey Island, Loom and Day of the Tentacle. I'm sure I would've loved playing it, if only Lucasarts/Disney could work on a "special edition" of it like they did with Monkey Island. Anyway, the original theme is quirky, energetic and reeks of the 80s so what remixer plasm303 decided to do was to give the track the garage band treatment and I think what he's done is perfect. He even managed to pay tribute to another Lucasarts game with the band name (Razor was a character in Maniac Mansion and she was leader of a band called The Scummettes).

Conclusion

And that brings me to the end of this feature article. I hope you enjoyed some of the picks that I've chosen and if you didn't, why not post your favourite PC game music remixes and covers down in the comments? As you can tell, there are a lot of talented musicians out there considering the quality of remixes and covers nowadays - I just hope that the number of remixes and covers for PC games continues to multiply.

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