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Chimpazilla

OCR03729 - *YES* Shining Force 2 "Sixty Force Techno"

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ReMixer & real name: Eino Keskitalo

Names of games arranged: Shining Force II
Name of Arrangement: Sixty Force Techno
Names of individual songs arranged: Wandering Warriors (aka Main Theme)
 
MP3 link: 
FLAC link: 
 
This one was featured in the 2014 Shining Force II 20th Anniversary Mix Drive (http://ocremix.org/community/topic/38777-the-2014-shining-force-ii-20th-anniversary-mix-drive/), where a bunch of arrangers made some SFII tracks for Rexy to play on her Sega Mixer Drive show on Radio Sega, near the date of the 20th anniversary of the game's NA release. We have some plans of putting a release together from these tunes + hopefully more, so I kindly ask to wait for more info on that before posting! :) (assuming this passes of course)
 
I do believe Shining Force II is one of my favourite games and soundtracks. It's a light tactical JCRPG full of colourful characters and locales, with pretty well streamlined gameplay. Not super challenging, but lots of fun! Thanks to Teemu for borrowing me his Mega Drive and games back in the day, I still recall the playthrough fondly. Motoaki Takennuchi's prog-tinted soundtrack has many sides, it can be eerie, rousing or peppy, anything that the gameplay and story call for. So many great tracks on the soundtrack (and the recurring motifs are fun to spot throughout). I find it's also one of the best sounding scores on the Mega Drive.

The source is the overworld theme, and also one of the battle themes. It's kind of the main theme of the game. It seems to be called "Wandering Warriors", but I don't know how official that is. I've given it a sort of deconstructive treatment, chopping the source to bits and building something else from the remains. The source is there pretty much the whole time, but it's been appropriated for the style & key so much, it might not be obvious (but hopefully, it's still legit for OCR). So the breakdown will point out what comes from where:

0:00-0:08 This arpeggio is present almost throughout the track. Based on 0:57-1:03. Here only the first measure is used.
0:08-0:23 Background pad based on the blasting horns in the intro 0:00-0:07
0:23-0:39 The bass follows the chord progression of 0:57-1:03 (the arp is still only based on the first measure).
0:39-0:54 The arp uses the first measure 3 times + the last measure, of 0:57-1:03.
0:54-1:10 The arp uses all the four measures of 0:57-1:03 along with the bass.
1:10-1:41 The melody is based on the fanfare bit at 1:11-1:20.
1:42-1:56 The melody is based on the high soaring melody at 0:36-0:50
1:56-2:03 This bit of the melody might be based (vaguely) on some part of the source, but I don't recognize it anymore.
2:03-2:11 Pretty much 0:07-0:14?
2:11-2:41 The "verse melody", 0:07-0:21 from source. What a missed opportunity to use the source up to 0:35.
2:42-3:28 The chorus repeats with the same stuff as before.
3:28-3:47 The arp, the pad and bits of the fanfare are featured.
 
The style is some sort of techno made with mostly Commodore 64 samples. Done in Renoise, as always. I didn't have a plan, exactly, to make an arrangement with such a concept. These were just the samples that fell into place and seemed to work together, resulting in a fairly dry and harsh soundscape. I didn't even have to massage and polish the mix quite as much as is usual for me. That said, timaeus222 and Argle had some very good feedback in the Workshop to reduce crowdedness in the mix and arrangement, and do some other tweaks. Also thanks to Pleiade, Pirjo and SirJ for encouraging and useful feedback.

This was also a bonus track for PRC round 277. (PRC! PRC!) I won the previous round and got to pick the source; I chose Wandering Warriors to rally up some interest for the Drive, and I thought it'd be appropriate to do a bonus track. It's strangely rare that I arrange (and especially finish arranging) tracks from games I actually love, so I'm pretty happy how this came out!

cheers,
--Eino
 

 

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That's a very solid Genesis source - one of those rarities where the system put out something amazing, it seems. It's always impressive what that machine could do under capable hands. While that's neither here nor there, I always like to give kudos when I hear a solid Genesis source. Anyhoo...

Nice use of them chips! Very clean and crisp, and you manage to fill the space sufficiently. As far as the arrangement goes, you seem to focus on some of the more textural elements, and you harmonize the track in a very different manner from the source. It all works nice together, though.

There is one gripe that I have on this one - the bass drum is ever present, and it's very weak. For such a track, the bass drum needs to carry the entire song. This drum doesn't have any presence, and ultimately sounds like it's just filling space rather than creating a solid beat. It would've been better to have a meaty bass drum and chain the other elements in order to give it the space it needed.

There is some overcompression that occurs in the track, as well, but due to all of the instruments being simple synths it's very difficult to hear - any overcompression ends up sounding like it's a part of the lo-fi atmosphere that you set up. Other than that, this sounds like a really great arrangement. For me it's still a close call due to how present that bass drum is, but you really went above and beyond when it comes to how you handle your synths, as well as how clever the arrangement is overall. For some that drum may bring this below, but I think this one works well enough regardless.

YES

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Cool chips dude.  Very nice soundscape, lots of details to be found on this one, a lot of care went into making this very varied.  The balance is fine, though just slightly a bit highs-heavy.  There's one complain I have with this, and it's that there's no stopping, no letting go of the energy ever, and as such the track feels very static.  A small break would have done wonders here, but after a while I found myself a bit tired because the beat just won't let go, you have to give the listener a rest at some point, even if small.  

Because of this, as detailed as the arrangement is, I'm borderline on passing this as is or asking for a resubmit, as this would be a fairly easy fix.  I'll let this one sit for a while, and hear other opinions.

EDIT: seems like my nitpick is not very relevant to most people so I'll give this one a hearty YES Nice Work!

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I agree with Gario's comments about the kick, it could be meatier for this track, and feels weak as it is.  I also agree with Sir_NutS's comment about the arrangement having no break in the energy, a breakdown would be very welcomed.  I don't find either of those to be dealbreakers however.  This arrangement has a ton of creativity and interest, and yeah, cool chips dude.  Works for me.

YES

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Good intro build up, nice chips. I enjoy the progression of the arrangement. I agree with Mike that a break somewhere in the track would be nice, although I felt the more minimal parts where just a synth, kick and bass play at least partially substituted for a full breather/change of pace.

I thought the drums could be louder, as they get drowned a little in some of the busier sections. The synths were also a little thin - not deal breaking but I felt there was sonic space here to fatten your sounds up a bit.

Overall I think I'm ok with this one, some smaller concerns but I don't feel any of these breaks the appeal.

YES

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