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DusK

OCRA-0042 - Be Aggressive!: A Gunstar Heroes Tribute Album

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  • The early '90s were filled with fantastic games, many of them with fantastic music. Much of that music is why OverClocked ReMix was created in the first place. 1993 saw the birth of several great Sega Genesis titles, but one stood near and dear to my heart and rose above most: Treasure's debut title, Gunstar Heroes. Created by a team of ex-Konami employees, Gunstar Heroes features extremely difficult, fast-paced, energetic, and fun run-and-gun shooter gameplay, and some of the most extraordinary music ever heard in a 16-bit game. And despite the critical acclaim of both the game itself and the music, OverClocked ReMix has only seen one remix of that game's music make it to the front page.

    Gunstar Heroes remains even today as a very under-appreciated and under-recognized game. Many '90s kids were on the SNES side of the 16-bit console war, and few even on the Sega side will likely answer with a "yes" when asked if they know about it. Even among the remixers who worked on this project, there were those who had missed the game entirely, or discovered it well after the 16-bit golden years.
    The remixer lineup on this album follows suit with that as well. Though the roster includes several well-known remixers, including the only remixer to have ever gotten a Gunstar Heroes track on OC ReMix back in 2002, much of the lineup consists of lesser-knowns. I was ecstatic when I saw the roster filling up with under-recognized yet extremely talented artists in the OC ReMix community, and even more excited when I saw non-posted remixers stepping up and delivering absolutely amazing tracks.

    It's been rocky, as I'd imagine it usually is for a first-time OC ReMix album director. But we ended up with a remarkably fast outcome despite that, and at the end of that year-long journey, we had an album that completely exceeded my expectations for what it could be when I made that first post. We've created an album that makes you feel like you're playing a fast-paced shooter as you listen.

    I'd like to thank all of the remixers for putting up with our control freakishness and putting out amazing pieces of music. All of you guys are amazing, and as I mentioned above, if people don't know that by now, I hope they will after giving this album a listen. And extra thanks to The Coop for using his awesome spriting skills to create that awesome album art.

    Special thanks to Dj Mokram for dedicating so much of him to the album, enduring both his own hectic personal life and my own incompetence. He didn't have to do nearly as much as he did, but he did anyway, because he's a badass.

    Thanks much to OverClocked ReMix and djpretzel for starting up this great community centered around an art form that can never get enough love, and thanks to the OCR projects staff for answering all of my noob questions quickly.

    And of course, thanks to all the fans of Gunstar Heroes and OverClocked ReMix, for being awesome like fans do. And thank you, for listening.

    - Dustin Branscum (DusK)
  • If that wasn't already clear, I'm a big fan of Treasure. Their will to go against the current and try new things transpires in their games, and rewards those who set foot in their universe. Not long after completing Secret Bonus Point, I naturally set my sights on yet another Treasure title. What I didn't know at the time was that one of the most prolific contributors to SBP and remixing partner-in-crime of mine, DusK, had already set in motion a plan to arrange the music from that game. So I contacted him and offered to do what I do best: hijack and totally ruin projects. xD

    Gunstar Heroes for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive was the first effort of former Konami employees turned video game freedom fighters. It's a fast-paced, action-packed game with a futuristic setting, innovative weapon system, solid mechanics and satisfying gameplay. It features an extremely colorful design, full of life and bearing the trademark wackiness that would transpire from their subsequent games. Moreover, the anime-style graphics exhibit a level of expressiveness that wasn't commonplace in traditional run & gun titles of that era, giving the protagonists a wide range of emotions and making the game feel surprisingly humane... despite the fact, of course, that everything on screen wants you dead. ;D

    To accompany and illustrate this neo-futuristic package, the soundtrack composed by Norio Hanzawa (a.k.a. NON) sets the tone perfectly. Exploiting every ounce of the YM2612 soundchip to deliver some FM synthesis goodness, Gunstar Heroes contains some of the most complex compositions to come out of Sega's machine, making its music surprisingly challenging, yet immensely rewarding to arrange. We wanted the album to reflect both the futuristic setting and the frantic nature of the gameplay, while staying true to the story, characters and feel of playing the game itself. Translated to the music, it means the aggressiveness would not only be about velocity, but also about design choices. Knowing when to slow things down to inspire uneasiness before suddenly throwing you in an impossibly tense situation, one that makes you feel proud to have overcome, afterwards. This is what the game was about, and what we were aiming to inspire/evoke with the album.

    DusK was set on making this an official project, but from my experience, finding people to remix a lesser known game on OCR is more or less a suicide mission. Therefore, I knew the only way to make this happen was to drop all pre-conceived notions of success and go all-in, or simply put: Be Aggressive! I was moved beyond words upon witnessing the willingness of many fantastic musicians to lend their talent to such a risky endeavor (we weren't exactly trying to remix Final Fantasy here), and by their commitment to follow us, not so well-known community members, in our crazy quest to pay tribute to a memorable game constantly overshadowed by mainstream titles.

    On a personal level, this project embodies two things: passion and loss. I poured my heart into everything, from organizing and recruiting personnel, giving detailed feedback and steering people in the right direction, to crafting promotional material and making sure everything ran smoothly until we reached the finish line. What I didn't (couldn't?) foresee however, was the hand of fate taking loved ones away from me, depriving me from the joy of making music and nearly putting an end to my existence. That's why there's great meaning in the fact that I'm still alive, and standing here today to witness the conclusion of this journey.

    Thanks to the Almighty for giving me a fighting chance, DusK for being a badass director and awesome friend, The Coop for lending his many talents to the project, each and every ReMixer who's helped make Be Aggressive! a reality, Treasure for creating video game masterpieces, OC ReMix for crushing my ego and pushing me forward to reach my dreams, as well as all the wonderful people I've met during these four years in the VGM community.

    This album is dedicated to all Gunstar Heroes and Treasure fans around the world. :)

    - Dj Mokram
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Heard it on last night's NGI. Congratulations you two!

If anyone just so happened to miss last night's show, I'll be running through the whole thing on Friday's SEGA Mixer Drive (2PM Eastern), so if anyone wants to come along, feel free! :)

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I had never even heard of this game, much less played it. I never owned any Sega systems, I was always a Nintendo kid. Now I'm tempted to track it down.

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Play it, Argle. But be careful, 'cause you'll get addicted faster than I did.

-------------------------------

To further celebrate the release of this FANTASTIC album, I've uploaded a

for my particular track! That said, on the behalf of DusK and Dj Mokram, we hope you enjoy this album! =D Edited by timaeus222

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Got my copy downloaded like the OCR fanboy I am. Listening to Malcos' original 2 Stage remix first, I see he's done a new one... eager to listen to that in the play through. :D

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Hey guys, a billion thanx for this fantastic album!

GunStar Heroes is my favorite game on Sega, and its OST is one of the best (of the best of the best =)) OSTs I ever heard. So I just can't tell how much I have waited for this album - and how much I am glad that I can finally load it to my player and listenlistenlisten! ^^

Well, honestly, not everything sounds like I thought and suppose it to. The music itself is splendid, however sometimes seems (to me, of course) to not match original game spirit completely. But it's only my vision and only my associations, and you have yours, and express it in your tracks, and it is magnificent! =)

//Plus, maybe (very likely) it is just a "duck syndrome" and I need to get used to album - with every listening I am getting involved deeper. So I need to listen to it for several times.

And once we are talking about tracks, I want to pick out some extra tracks for me:

- all Dusk's tracks (well, they're metal and heavy and AGGRESSIVE! - just like Gun Star Heroes ;))

- CJthemusicdude's 'Lighning Chaser' (despite some lack of rush, this electronic theme is still gunstar-style =))

- Phonetic Hero's Proggy Roadboy (however I liked the trailer version more)

- Mikeaudio's 'Pursued by the Subordinate of Ignorant Sin' (break-beat and rock guitars - it's my weakness =))

- The Coop's 'Attitude for Continues' (almost original, just like it)

- Eino Keskitalo's 'Square Zero' (also quite original theme, kind of "rock cover" =)) - upd. 09/10/13 1:11 PM (third listening, as I said ;)) -

- metaphist's 'Guns to the Stars' (soft and brighty space theme)

- Jakesnke17's 'Lunar Ecstasy' (one more excellent space theme)

- Flexstyles' 'Irresolution' (pushing, uplifting, energetic electronic)

- rebrained's 'Tri-Formation' (WOW, GunStar-dubstep!)

- Ivan Hakštok's 'No Time to Rest' (juicy rrrocking!)

- Darkmoocher's 'Nice Legs' (SUDDENLY - beautiful jazz (lounge?) theme - what a nice surprise =))

- Tuberz McGee's 'See Ya Space Cowboy' (good-old-blues-style theme - perfect track and perfect ending for album)

This list doesn't mean, that other tracks are worse - they really are very cool in their own way, but these are especially remarkable for me.

//And I dare to hope to hear DJ Mokram's version of 'Final Assault' somewhen ;)

And, of course, nothing in my words could not and _does not_ cancel the fact, that album is really great - on the whole, this delightful variety of genres with futuristic and space tunes mathes the original OST as well as possible. So thank you guys and God bless you all for that huge (and undoubtedly hard) job you've done to present us this wonderful gift!

//and sorry for my limp English and for long talking =)

Edited by eXtaiN

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I never owned any Sega systems, I was always a Nintendo kid.
This quote should be added up there, right under the OCR header logo, to go alongside the SNES gamepad. :lol:

Joke aside, I do hope you get to play this gem someday, without our bias affecting your enjoyment of either the game or the music.

Hey guys, a billion thanx for this fantastic album!

GunStar Heroes is my favorite game on Sega, and its OST is one of the best (of the best of the best =)) OSTs I ever heard. So I just can't tell how much I have waited for this album - and how much I am glad that I can finally load it to my player and listenlistenlisten! ^^

Hearing this coming from a fellow Sega and Gunstar fan makes my day.
Well, honestly, not everything sounds like I thought and suppose it to. The music itself is splendid, however sometimes seems (to me, of course) to not match original game spirit completely. But it's only my vision and only my associations, and you have yours, and express it in your tracks, and it is magnificent! =)

//Plus, maybe (very likely) it is just a "duck syndrome" and I need to get used to album - with every listening I am getting involved deeper. So I need to listen to it for several times.

And, of course, nothing in my words could not and _does not_ cancel the fact, that album is really great - on the whole, this delightful variety of genres with futuristic and space tunes mathes the original OST as well as possible. So thank you guys and God bless you all for that huge (and undoubtedly hard) job you've done to present us this wonderful gift!
Thank you for making your point in such a thoughtful way. Personally, I find that with remixes, even more so than with original music, the nature of the interpretation somehow makes it even more of a subjective matter. We did our best to preserve the feel of NON's soundtrack, and that of the game itself as a whole. As both the album's co-director and a fan, my only hope is that you can find at least a few remixes that represent the right balance between your undying love of the game/soundtrack and the musicians personal vision for each track. Reading the rest of your post, I see that you did, and to me this means that we've done our job. Thanks again for listening and sharing your thoughts. :)
//And I dare to hope to hear DJ Mokram's version of 'Final Assault' somewhen ;)
For the sake of your ears, pray that you won't. XD
If anyone just so happened to miss last night's show, I'll be running through the whole thing on Friday's SEGA Mixer Drive (2PM Eastern), so if anyone wants to come along, feel free! :)
Thanks Bev. That's quite the honor. I'll do my utmost to join the fun at RS. ;)
I love the way this album came out, so much good stuff. I'll be rocking this for a long, long time.
And I'll be rocking your remix for a long, long time, sir. :nicework:

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Re-listening to the album, and everything sounds super solid. I don't know the original soundtrack (if Mokram reads this, he will kill me, hahaha), but the energic and agressive feeling of BA is really cool.

Nice job, gang! :nicework:

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I was looking forward to this album for a long time! Knew about it through Dj Mokram, me being a total fan of underappreciated videogame music as he is :-). As a happy owner of a Genesis and SNES back in the day (still got them) I got to rent and play the best games of the 16-bit gen. Gunstar Heroes is one of the few that keeps coming back, and one of the many reasons why it does is definitely its music.

After the Dynamite Headdy album, I am loving to listen to another homage to those semigods in Treasure. And this album does justice to their divinity, it is all I would have expected. The ride has been a bliss since I heard that "Stage Clear" melody. Congratulations to all the remixers/arrangers! And especially to DJ Mokram, very touched after reading the words you wrote up there! You are a badass indeed! :-)

Edited by Kumori

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Now that you mention it, I missed that and want to check it out. But the KNGI link doesn't work?

KNGI is down for now, Kyle said it would come back very soon.

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I can't even begin to say how many times I've meant to come to this thread, and somehow, something kept coming up to distract me and get me to forget about it. BUT NOT TONIGHT GODDAMMIT!

First and foremost, many thanks to DusK and Dj Mokram for asking me to be a part of this project, and for letting me run with the ideas I had both musically, and site-wise. I wasn't always an easy road, but I was happy with the end results. And thankfully, so were they.

Secondly, thanks for the compliment on my track, eXtaiN. And thanks to those who had nice things to say about it and the website on the preview podcasts and such. They were all appreciated.

Finally, I know this isn't an album that will be given the attention that the likes of Mario, Final Fantasy, Sonic and such bring to remix albums, but this is a solid, great album. The work put into it shines through clearly on all facets, and the listeners who dare to step off of the well-worn remix paths that lead to the aforementioned franchises, will find that out quite quickly. So kudos to everyone involved for making a wonderful album dedicated to a great game :-)

P.S. We have WWE wrestlers listening to our stuff? This world's gone crazy I tells ya!

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