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OCR03565 - *YES* Sonic the Hedgehog (GG) "Siilin melankolia"

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ReMixer & real name: Eino Keskitalo
e-mail: 
Names of games arranged: Sonic the Hedgehog (Game Gear)

Name of Arrangement: Siilin melankolia

Names of individual songs arranged: Bridge Zone, Green Hill Zone
 

MP3 link: 
WAV link: 
 
I'm old school in my taste for Sonic. Less characters and less dialogue the better. Even Sonic 2 seems to have too much. To be fair, I haven't played that much Sonic outside the first one (in 8 and 16 bits), but I did grab Sonic Rush Adventure recently-ish and I would've definitely preferred about 25% of story and characters there! But I digress.
 
I think I must have played Sonic first on a friend's Master System. Another friend got a Mega Drive (and Sonic of course) a little later, and if I had played the 16-bit version first, the slower, more traditional platformer pacing of the 8-bit version would feel weird to me. But it doesn't, and I can vouch for the 8-bit Sonic 1 being a great game for the platforms. Though I know it as a Master System game, it was developed for the Game Gear first (confirmed by Yuzo Koshiro in The Untold History of Japanese Game Developers vol 1).
 
Koshiro's company, Ancient, handled the conversion, and he did the music. Some of the soundtrack consists of SN76489 renditions of the 16-bit tunes (such as Green Hill Zone, which is also featured in this arrangement), and some are original tracks composed for this version (such as Bridge Zone music). The conversions are good and everything is quite chirpy and poppy, Bridge Zone being rather a cheerful track. It segues well from GHZ, same key and tempo and everything. I'm not sure why, but this arrangement is the fifth time I'm dabbling with Bridge Zone. It's not really a favourite piece of VGM for me, but it's a good one, and I really like the game.
 
Unlike the original, this arrangement is a bit dark. It started with an experiment on the keyboard, to see if the melody of the A part would work in minor key, and I would say it does. The A part has a ABAC-type structure, but I found repeating the melody of the first two bars built up a nice tension in the minor mode. After a bunch of attempts trying to shoehorn the B part of the original in the minor mode, I went with the original progression, which does give a nice contrast to the darker verse. (These attempts did yield a usage of a bit of the B part melody as a countermelody in the verse.) I felt I needed a bit more material, so I dipped into the intro part of Green Hill Zone, utilizing the four-note arpeggio and the melody, but having it follow a changing chord structure, so that this part, too, turns dark.
 
I'm pretty sure this track was at some point an attempt of doing things quickly, but that rarely succeeds for me. The chorused bassline utilizes samples of my own playing from Miljoonamiehen muistelmat. I tried to keep the beat simple and allow myself some copy-pasting and previous drum sound usage. I think the resulting stiff groove is all right. I put in plenty of electronic drum samples and noises to provide some colour. The rest of the instrumentation is pretty much just e-piano, regular piano, mellotron and a cheap synth sample from an oooold Fast Tracker II tune of mine. Dealing with the last one took a good amount of work and some feedback from the project directors Black_Doom and (regular collab partner) Jorito. I also added some subtlish atmospheric samples (thunder sheets and rainstick from freesounds.org) after Black_Doom's comments.
 
Source usage part by part:
 
0:00-0:18 No source in the intro.
0:18-0:35 Part A of the source begins, repeating the first two bars of the melody (with some variation)
0:35-0:52 The melody of B part plays as a countermelody, and at the end the part A material resolves to use its "B" portion
0:52-1:09 Source B part, used fairly straightforwardly.
1:10-1:25 The A part is followed in full "ABAC" structure.
1:25-1:42 A part goes "ABAB", with the mellotron providing the B-part countermelody
1:42-1:58 I hope the GHZ intro is recognizable!
1:58-2:15 GHZ intro is taken through some chord changes.
2:15-2:32 First half of the bitcrushed synth solo is original ...
2:32-2:48 ... until here BZ A-part is either in the background or at the front (apart from 2:40-2:42).
2:48-3:17 B part of BZ is repeated twice.
3:18-3:31 The tail end of the outro has no source.
 
That's about it! This was my second attempt at producing an 8-bit Sonic 1 arrangement for the 25th anniversary project, and I'm glad I was able to finish it. Thanks to the directors for steering & feedback and running the project in general!
 

cheers,
--Eino

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I already checked this out for the project, and this is an improved version.  The low pass that was on the last version has been lightened up quite a bit, adding some life without changing the melancholy mood.  It could probably stand to be tweaked further in the same direction, but I don't think it's enough of an issue to hold this back.  It's a creative interpretation that stands on its own, more great work from Eino.

YES

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My opinion of it is pretty similar to what it was for the album - very interesting arrangement, with some reservations about the lack of highs throughout that makes the track feel rather dull overall. I still feel like the production could/should be brightened up considerably with the use of more highs, myself.

It's a tough call. I keep wavering between passing and rejecting this, based on the EQ issues that I still am concerned about. There is improvement between versions, but I'm not 100% sold on it being enough to post. I'll wait and see what others think about this, and make a decision then.

EDIT (4/28): Yeah, I can see what Deia's saying. It's not what I consider ideal, but I'll be damned if I didn't say it sounded intentional. Since it's otherwise a pretty cool track, I think it'll be alright to pass this as is - nice work!

YES

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Overall I think this works out. The sources are definitely obvious, and the arrangement ideas are pretty sound. I think overall the track feels a little stiff, but that also feels intentional. I think the lack of highs and the overall subdued nature works for what Eino is trying to accomplish here, so that doesn't bother me as much. Nice work overall.

YES

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I love Bridge Zone.  I kinda hear what the other judges are saying about the eq, but it's not bothering me, or taking away from the track on my end.  There are some odd choices for some of the sound that feel a bit wacky for the soft atmosphere that is present in some parts of the mix, and that contrast was more off-putting to me than any non-ideal eq balance.  Even then, I think those don't really bring this down below our bar.

What I found here was a very nice arrangement that brings Bridge Zone and Green Hill together in obvious, but transformative ways.  The arrangement was at its best in points such as after 2:30 where you can hear touches of both themes, as well as some small but nice touches with the drum writing.  The Lo-fi elements are added tastefully throughout the track, and can be heard in some lead instruments as well as in the Organ-sounding pads.  Overall, this is a solid track that didn't really blow me away production-wise but that is quite lovely when you look into the arrangement.

YES

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