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Remix Stat Analysis and the Neglect of Modernity


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Look, I'm not a statistician, so please spare me the standard deviation and epsilon null-hypothesis stuff. I was just curious so I crunched some numbers. Really, I was wondering about the more modern FFs and why nobody really bothers with them for the most part.

If you look at total amount of remixes across the board, they rank this way:

Final Fantasy II 1

Final Fantasy XIII 1

Final Fantasy III 2

Final Fantasy Legend II 2

Final Fantasy Tactics 2

Final Fantasy X-2 2

Final Fantasy XII 2

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest 3

Final Fantasy XI Online 4

Final Fantasy Adventure9

Final Fantasy V 20

Final Fantasy X 22

Final Fantasy IX 23

Final Fantasy 30

Final Fantasy VIII 30

Final Fantasy IV 47

Final Fantasy VI 85

Final Fantasy VII 104

7 is the clear top dog, with 6 and 4 following behind (albeit at pretty big margins). It looks like 1994-1998 were Square's "golden years" when it comes to people being interested in remixing their music.

But that really didn't take into account the fact that modern FF soundtracks have been available for less time. So I ran another comparison, this time comparing years on the market vs. remixes made. Again, from least to most, here is MIXES/YEAR

Final Fantasy II 0.09

Final Fantasy Legend II 0.09

Final Fantasy Tactics 0.13

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest 0.14

Final Fantasy X-2 0.20

Final Fantasy III 0.29

Final Fantasy XII 0.29

Final Fantasy XIII 0.33

Final Fantasy XI Online 0.40

Final Fantasy Adventure 0.41

Final Fantasy 1.30

Final Fantasy V 1.43

Final Fantasy IX 1.77

Final Fantasy X 1.83

Final Fantasy IV 2.14

Final Fantasy VIII 2.14

Final Fantasy VI 4.47

Final Fantasy VII 6.50

Again we see 7, 6, and 4 close to the top, with 8 now inching in there as well. Almost every game that has a remix ratio of 1 per year was on SNES and PSX. I used the North American release dates for these stats, so there's some wiggle room there and it skews the charts in FAVOR of 1, 2, 3, and 5. However, since you can see they still didn't really make the top of the charts, it didn't matter that much.

After looking at these stats, there are a couple of thoughts I had about why there is a clear bell curve basically between 1994-1998.

1.) The soundtracks are fucking awesome. This is my personal opinion, but I think Uematsu was at his prime during this period. He used themes to develop characters, something that didn't happen prior to this time period and really didn't happen afterwards (Final Fantasy VIII seemed to have a less character-oriented soundtrack and a more environment-oriented soundtrack. I don't know that I could whistle Quistis' 'theme', for example). Psychologically, if you become connected to the characters, you also, in a Pavlovian kind of way, become connected to the music. Those character themes became intensely personal, and therefore they fuel remixers' passions.

2.) The GAMES are fucking awesome. Again, personal opinion, but if you draw your finger down the top of the list you are basically listing my favorite games in order of preference. Having thoroughly enjoyed the games, we are more prone to want to attach ourselves to their soundtracks. I also have a particular hatred for Final Fantasy XIII, and the fact that the evidence proves its inadequacy is part of my confirmation bias.

3.) The age group of the majority of the remixing community. I gather that most of this community is between the ages of 22 and 35. I could be totally wrong, and I have no real evidence to support this, but I'm going with it anyway. That fact alone puts us at prime video-game playing age between the years of 1994 and 1998, when most of these games were coming out, before life sort of got in the way of chlidhood fantasies. This ALSO means that the games released during this time have the nostalgia effect associated with them. Remixing a song from this period tickles the same response as talking with an old friend about that time you threw eggs at cop cars in tenth grade.

4.) The character of the sound tracks for the top games. If you go to the NES Final Fantasies, themes are necessarily simplistic, and aren't as inspiring. You don't have a lot to "pull out" and play with - you have a melody and maybe some harmonies going on. (If you look at Zelda series remix statistics, I think you'd see the same effect). The SNES/PSX era had more complex themes, but they still had themes and variations and melodies that you could latch on to. By contrast, I couldn't really hum a tune from FFs 11, 12, or 13, partially because I have only played them once, and partially because the soundtrack is way more ambience-oriented than the SNES/PSX era. It was really sort of impossible to have ambient background music using SNES technology.

Anyway, those are just some of my thoughts after taking a look at this. I'm interested to hear what the rest of you think about it.

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also something that is slightly skewing the data is that a lot of the higher rated ones have had project mixes. If you look at FF4 for example, there were 19 remixes of it before the project was released, and now there are 24 posted remixes from the project itself. I have a feeling FF2, FF3, FF5, FF6, and FF9 will all get an additional bump in remixes based on projects.

I think all of the possible reasons for the way the numbers are stacking up are valid, but #3 is the most likely. That era was a huge breakthrough in sound production and captured the imagination of a lot of musicians, and the combination of that nostalgia and the melodies themselves being very catchy leads to a mix of more traction. The FF7 project was released roughly a decade after the game, and in the event that in 8 years or so, someone releases a FF13 project, I have a feeling people won't go as nuts over it as they did for 7. The melodies need to be recognizable and singable for a remix to really be great, IMO.

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I think it's actually a combination of all your reasons. The classic era FF games and soundtracks are widely regarded as some of the best and innovative games/OSTs of the era, and more modern FFs haven't been given the same distinction (at least not to the same degree). Nostalgia and age group of remixers here certainly plays a part too, but I don't predict that the modern FFs will hold much nostalgic value for kids growing up today. The new FF games are actually more aimed at that older 21-35 age group, I feel, and kids growing up today will have their own games to feel nostalgic about when they get older.

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The new FF games are actually more aimed at that older 21-35 age group, I feel, and kids growing up today will have their own games to feel nostalgic about when they get older.

This is tangential, but I'm curious as to why you think FFXIII was aimed at that age group. To me it felt like a 15-18 year old game.

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This is tangential, but I'm curious as to why you think FFXIII was aimed at that age group. To me it felt like a 15-18 year old game.

Never played 13, so can't speak to it specifically, but I think the FF games have kept the same style so long that they're probably targeted towards existing fans of the series rather than new fans.

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