This year we continue the tradition of dedicating a Top 10 list to covers and remixes of PC game music. With respect to AAA titles this is probably irrelevant (as they are often multi-platform anyway) but when it comes to good ol' DOS and Amiga games or indie PC games, well they tend to get left by the wayside.
How the list was made
This year, I scoured the Internet for PC game music covers and remixes and came up with 70 to choose from. This is a big jump from last year's 43 which obviously made the decision to pick a Top 10 that much harder. This list was compiled from various sources including OCRemix, Remix64 as well as several YouTube channels. While this list is by no means an exhaustive one, it at least gives people a taste of what awesome PC game music remixes and covers are out there (if I've missed any released in 2021, be sure to mention them in the comments).
I applied a 0-2 scale scoring system, similar to what has been employed previously and also similar to our other Top 10 features. These are what each of the scores represent:
- 0 = remix that didn't resonate with me and I couldn't get into it. Usually because I'm not a fan of the source material or I don't really recognise it.
- 1 = remix that is good, worth a listen and can be appreciated for its technical merit.
- 2 = My favourites of the bunch. Ones I'm likely to listen to again and again. Remixes I'd want my friends to listen to.
A whopping 26 tracks achieved a score of 2 this time (compared to last year's 9), meaning I had to discount several tracks in order to come up with a Top 10. Any remaining tracks with a score of 2 were included in the Honourable Mentions list below.
So, I present to you the Top 10 PC Game Covers and Remixes of 2021 as ranked by Choicest Games!
Honourable MentionsThe Sims 2 Makeover (The Sims 2) by simsi45
Leiliana's Song - In Uthenera (Dragon Age: Origins) by Lizz
Time to Choooooose (Half-Life) by TheOnlyDeerAlive
Main Theme Cover (Little Big Adventure) by Cooked Chicory
Necrotaur Battle Metal Cover (Quest for Glory IV) by Cosplaying as a Musician
Ultima VI lessera remix (Ultima VI) by Craig Rhodes
Girl in the Tower (King's Quest VI) by Jon Paul Sapsford
Main Theme Remix (Body Blows Ultimate) by D4XX
One way of another remix (Lemmings) by D4XX
At Doom's Gate E1M1 Remix (DOOM) by D4XX
Shamburger - Full Cover (Age of Empires II) by Rich Spectrum Sounds
Manny and Meche - Clarinet Cover (Grim Fandango) by Soundole VGM Covers
UNATCO Conversation (Deus Ex) by Helios
Splash Wave C64 game music cover (Out Run) by Magical Sound Shower 64
Title theme (Fury of the Furries) by kjetlin
The Forest remix (The Chaos Engine) by Kopsi
#10 E1M1 - At Doom's Gate - Metal Fortress Remix (Doom)Game: Doom
Original Artist(s): Bobby Prince
Remix/Cover Title: E1M1 - At Doom's Gate - Metal Fortress Remix
Artist(s): Metal Fortress
As the name implies, remixes and covers by Metal Fortress tend to add a lot of metal (and sometimes dubstep) to a whole bunch of games such as Team Fortress 2 and Undertale. In 2021, Metal Fortress decided to do a cover of the iconic track from the original Doom that plays on the very first level: E1M1 aka "At Doom's Gate".
There were actually two contenders for this particular track as Qumu also uploaded a very enjoyable, simple and clean-cut cover of the track. But this is Doom we're talking about, it just has to have the metal treatment and that's exactly what Metal Fortress brings to the table, and the reason I picked this version over Qumu's. It's just head-banging goodness and would fit perfectly in the original game. Definitely something to get the adrenaline pumping while you're hunting down some demons from Hell.
If you want to check out more of Metal Fortress's remixes and covers of video game music, check out the Metal Fortress YouTube channel
#9 Erana's Peace - Piano Cover (Quest for Glory 1)Game: Quest for Glory 1
Source: Erana's Peace
Original Artist(s): Mark Seibert
Remix/Cover Title: Erana's Peace (Piano Cover)
Artist(s): Katja Savia
As everybody knows by now, I'm a huge fan of the Quest for Glory series so you could imagine how ecstatic I was to discover not one but two covers of music from the franchise. While I did enjoy Cosplaying as a Musician's take on “Necrotaur Battle" from Quest for Glory IV it's hard to beat the beautiful melody from "Erana's Peace" especially when the talented Katja Savia plays it
As Katja mentions in the video description, another name for this track is "The Magic Meadow" since this is actually what Erana's Peace is, a magical meadow where you can rest and be safe from harm. The cover is short but sweet and it's always a pleasure hearing this piece played on a piano or keyboard.
#8 Tristram Village (Seven/Twelve Strings Guitar) (Diablo)Game: Diablo
Source: Tristram Village
Original Artist(s): Matt Uelmen
Remix/Cover Title: Diablo: Tristram Village (Seven/Twelve Strings Guitar)
Artist(s): Łukasz Kapuściński
Diablo and its sequels are games you can count on for covers, especially the Tristram theme. So, it's no surprise that last year I found a couple of good ones. I ended up going with Łukasz Kapuściński's excellent cover because its quality stuff and refreshing to hear this piece of music stripped back to the basics, which is the acoustic guitar. Łukasz doesn't just play with one acoustic guitar though, oh no. He's playing with two: a seven string and a twelve string. The haunting beauty of this cover will ensure you stay awhile and listen.
If you like what you hear, check out Łukasz's YouTube channel called Guitars & Dragons. He also performs guitar covers of many other games as well as movies and TV shows.
#7 Monkey Island 2 - JackG 30th Anniversary Remix (Monkey Island 2)Game: Monkey Island 2
Source: Main Theme
Original Artist(s): Michael Z. Land
Remix/Cover Title: Monkey Island 2 - JackG 30th Anniversary Remix
I only stumbled across one Monkey Island 2 remix last year but it's special for a couple of reasons: firstly it commemorates the 30th anniversary to the classic point 'n' click adventure game Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck's Revenge which was released, yes, in 1991 (man I feel old). Secondly, I just love how the music seems to sync perfectly with the Monkey Island 2 intro all played on what looks like a typical CRT monitor from the early 90s.
JackG does an awesome job of fusing modern electronic music flourishes along with a classic piece of video game music. It's the ultimate nostalgia trip for any Monkey Island fan.
JackG doesn't have too much in the way of video game remixes on his YouTube channel but it's still very much worth a look and hey anybody that decides to pick "Bonetrousle" to remix out of all the tracks on Undertale gets a Choice Seal of Approval from me.
#6 Subway Song (SimCity 2000)Game: SimCity 2000
Source: Track 09
Original Artist(s): Sue Kasper (Composer)
Remix/Cover Title: Subway Song from SimCity 2000 (KillerBlood's Synthwave Remix)
The problem with old games sometimes is that they didn't really go about naming the tracks that make up the soundtrack. This is the case with this particular remix which is apparently based on a track from SimCity 2000 called the "Subway Song" but I don't actually know what it's called (some say it's actually called "Tax & Money"). I'm not even sure if the track number (which in this instance, I pulled off the Video Game Music Preservation Foundation website) is correct (since my own Choicest VGM video seems to have it wrong, oops). Anyway, two things are for sure about the original track: (1) it's the longest track in the game at just over three minutes long and (2) it's got a funky bass line.
Remixer KillerBlood has given us a synthwave remix of the track which, as you can imagine, teleports you to an 80s cyberpunk version of SimCity. It's cool, it's fun, it's something fresh I haven't heard before when it comes to remixes of this game. I'm not sure if it's going to dethrone my favourite SimCity 2000 remix which has to be Dr. Velvet and HALO_ZERO's “SimFunkadelic" (you can't beat that funky slap bass) but hey I can listen to remixes of SimCity 2000 any day and KillerBlood's is definitely another one of my favourites.
#5 Geoscape - Epic Modern Cover Version (UFO: Enemy Unknown)Game: UFO: Enemy Unknown (X-COM: UFO Defense)
Source: Geoscape 2
Original Artist(s): John Broomhall
Remix/Cover Title: XCOM UFO Enemy Unknown: Geoscape (Epic Modern Cover Version)
I always love it when old DOS games gets some love (probably a commonly recurring theme in these lists I do) but John Broomhall's music doesn't get enough covers or remixes in my opinion, and that's criminal. Thankfully, Everrune has worked on an epic synthwave version of one of the Geoscape themes in the original UFO: Enemy Unknown (aka X-COM: UFO Defense).
Listening to this track you could just imagine you're watching an 80s sci-fi film or anime where the elite of Earth's soldiers prepare themselves to do battle with the approaching alien menace, and that pretty much sums up the feeling you get when playing the original game. I mean even the cinematics in the original game look inspired by anime. Perfect music to kick alien ass to.
Everrune hasn't been on YouTube for that long but has already uploaded a few music videos showcasing his work in covering game and film music. Check it out if you have some time. Here's hoping to some more awesome PC game music covers from this artist in the future!
#4 Battlefield Theme - Epic Orchestral Cover (Battlefield)Game: Battlefield series
Source: Main Theme
Original Artist(s): Joel Eriksson, Patrik Andrén and Johan Söderqvist
Remix/Cover Title: Battlefield Theme - Epic Orchestral Cover [ Kāru ]
Kāru's take on the Battlefield theme seems to be a mix of elements of the original Battlefield 1942 theme (by Joel Eriksson) and Patrik Andrén and Johan Söderqvist's Battlefield 1 theme. The shouting at the beginning of the track helps to emphasise this is a war game soundtrack as it propels itself into the main Battlefield theme only slowing down around 2:11 to the peaceful sounds of an erhu (at least that's what it sounds like). After a bridge employing leitmotifs that were introduced in Battlefield 1's soundtrack an angelic chorus is followed by American military radio chatter before we're eventually pulled back to listening to the main theme again. It's great and quite frankly, this should've been the theme to Battlefield 2042, not what we ended up getting.
Although Kāru doesn't seem to do much in the way of video game covers or remixes he does have several music videos on his YouTube channel that may be worth checking out, so be sure to have a gander!
#3 Terran Theme 1 - All Instruments Cover (Starcraft)Game: Starcraft
Source: Terran Theme 1
Original Artist(s): Glenn Stafford
Remix/Cover Title: Starcraft Terran Theme 1 (All Instruments Cover)
Artist(s): Hoonjin PARK
Starcraft is another game on this list where its soundtrack is covered or remixed quite a bit. In fact, I had a look at five of them in 2021 but it's only the three covers performed by a Korean chap known as Hoonjin PARK that appealed to me the most. He managed to cover themes for the Terrans, Zerg and Protoss but it was no surprise I was going to go with the Terran cover because the Terrans were my favourite faction when I used to play Starcraft back in the day and I believe they have the best soundtrack too.
Like some other artists that feature on YouTube, such as Banjoguy Ollie, Hoonjin PARK seems to be multi-talented as he's able to play many instruments in this cover which is more or less faithful to the source material. In the video you'll see him play an acoustic guitar, multiple electric guitars, the drums, the bass, the tin whistle, the keyboard, the tambourine, bongos and a glockenspiel.
One of the weirdest instruments he plays in the video though has to be the one at 1:40 which I've just discovered is called the Otamatone (how have I not heard of it)? It happens to be the perfect instrument for the synth choir part that normally plays in the middle of the track so an insightful choice.
Anyway, as mentioned before, Hoonjin PARK has other Starcraft covers on his YouTube channel which are worth a listen. He also covers other games and TV shows too so you're highly likely to find something that suits your tastes on his channel.
#2 The Chaos Engine - ft. Rod Thacker Remix (The Chaos Engine)Game: The Chaos Engine
Source: Title Theme
Original Artist(s): Farook & Haroon
Remix/Cover Title: The Chaos Engine (ft. Rod Thacker Remix)
D4XX seems to be a remixer who focuses on more obscure PC games, especially ones that were popular on the Amiga (a PC quite popular with gamers back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, especially in the UK). I love it when obscure PC games with awesome soundtracks receive some attention and that's exactly what's happening here thanks to D4XX's remix of the Title Theme from The Chaos Engine, a 1993 run and gun game by the Bitmap Brothers.
According to Strong Bad's tips on what makes a great techno track, you always need to have "the obligatory old movie quote from some sci-fi movie" and while the quote isn't from an old sci-fi movie, this remix does have a quote about the Chaos Engine and it's voiced by a chap called Rod Thacker. It's a really nice touch and this is my favourite remix based off The Chaos Engine's soundtrack.
As mentioned, D4XX has created a lot of remixes based off old PC games and I recommend checking out his YouTube channel, especially if you like Amiga games. Two of my favourite remixes he's done include a Utopia: Creation of a Nation remix as well as a remix of "Space Ninja" from Lotus III.
#1 Puerto Pollo Theme Cover (The Curse of Monkey Island)Game: The Curse of Monkey Island
Source: Puerto Pollo
Original Artist(s): Michael Z. Land
Remix/Cover Title: Monkey Island 3 - Puerto Pollo Theme Cover
Artist(s): Kristofer Yffén
Finally we make it to the number one track for 2021 and it almost didn't make the list because it was only uploaded a couple weeks ago! The Monkey Island games hold a special place in my heart and their awesome soundtracks play a big part in my love for these games. In the third instalment of the series, The Curse of Monkey Island, if I were to name one track as my favourite, it would have to be the music that plays while you're wandering the town of Puerto Pollo. And guess what? Kristofer Yffén has done it again. He's created another phenomenal cover which means he once again features on this list (a well deserved spot on it I must say).
Kristofer plays on the whistle, flute, mandolin and button accordion in this video and does a great job in capturing the whimsical, carefree nature of this piece. We could use a lot more music like this in the world today, especially against the backdrop of a deadly, all-pervasive pandemic.
If you're interested in more Monkey Island covers, be sure to check out Kristofer's YouTube channel.
So, what do you think about the list? Did you enjoy any of these tracks? Are there any choicest VGM remixes or covers that I missed in 2021? Make sure to leave a comment.