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*NO* Pokémon Platinum Version 'Ruins of Alpha'

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Remix link: 
 
Submission Information
  • Name of game(s) arranged - Pokémon HeartGold & SoulSilver, Pokémon Platinum 
  • Name of arrangement - Ruins of Alpha
  • Name of individual song(s) arranged - Arceus, Battle! Giratina*, Distortion World, Mt. Coronet*, Pokéathlon Finals, Sinjoh Ruins, Spear Pillar*
  • Additional information about game including composer, system, etc. - Platinum, HeartGold and SoulSilver were all titles for the DS. Sinjoh Ruins was arranged and composed by Go Ichinose.
*Parts of these songs already appeared in the Sinjoh Ruins arrangement.
 
Link to the original soundtrack -
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Your own comments about the mix, for example the inspiration behind it, how it was made, etc.
 
This one's a bit lengthy, I know, but it's intended to be an "extended" arrangement of Sinjoh Ruins, which in and of itself was a medley of various legendary Pokémon-related themes from Diamond, Pearl, and Platinum. Like the source, Mt. Coronet, it's pretty hasty in running through everything it wants to cover, whereas this is intended to give them a little more breathing room.
 
In the same way that Game Boy-esque chiptune samples often get used in the name of nostalgia, some layers wed more modern production samples with noticeably dated sound patches (such as the rhode instruments) to evoke the oddly quiet soundfont Diamond and Pearl used on the DS.
 
The arrangement is supposed to be a pleasant surprise, starting out as a more run-of-the-mill bombastic Spear Pillar redux before settling into the Sinjoh Ruins intro with an understated feel in keeping with some of the more nuanced tracks from Diamond and Pearl. Giratina gets all of 2-3 seconds of runtime in the original track, so the ending segment takes some pages from Distortion World with the drums from Arceus to help compound the sense of dread Sinjoh Ruins only barely touches on. The synth pads and blips / reverse blips are likewise intended to be evocative of more chilly and glitched-out atmosphere that Platinum cast on Diamond and Pearl.
 
Thanks for looking at my submission! 
 
Adrian Wahrer
Edited by MindWanderer

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First of all, it took me a long evening to take notes on the source tunes, so I'll provide a breakdown for my fellow judges.

0:31-1:13 - B section of Spear Pillar / Arceus motif.
1:41-2:05 - Bells from Sinjoh Ruins / Mt Coronet.
2:28-3:12 - Rhodes piano from Sinjoh Ruins / Mt Coronet; strings come in and provide the melody for the former.
3:14-3:45 - Mt. Coronet's B section.
3:55-4:17 - Rhodes piano stabs from Mt. Coronet's C section, with strings following.
4:17-4:47 - Pokéthlon Finals A section.
5:02-5:43 - Final part of C section in Mt. Coronet
5:58-6:04 - Brief reference of Sinjoh Ruins' C section.
6:08-6:40 - Distortion World's A section on muted trumpets, moving to the B section on sustained brass. (Sorry, but I didn't hear anything from the Arceus source here.)
6:48-6:58 - Last section of Sinjoh Ruins, which also references the A section of Spear Pillar and the brief Giratina melody motif.
7:02-7:17 - Distortion World's A section. 
7:17-7:39 - Sinjoh Ruins bells.
7:57-8:03 - Last reference for Sinjoh Ruins / Mt. Coronet before ending.

The sources are dominant, so I'm pleased to see you understood that part.  I also heard how you treated the meat of the arrangement as an extension of Sinjoh Ruins, while also adding in other components to weave the mood.  The Spear Pillar intro sounded neat with the tempo shift before getting into the arrangement proper.  The bass writing sounds fun and added a driving force to the backing instrumentation.  The ominous instrumentation and glitching in the Distortion World section was a fun way to add in a temporary feeling of chaos.  And most importantly, the integration of other sources into Sinjoh's structure was a neat touch and reduced the prospect of medley-itis in the track.  So you aren't wrong here - you can't have too many outside sources when arranging that kind of BGM.

There are two issues I have with the arrangement, though.  Firstly, the Pokéthlon Finals section feels so out of place and random, so this is a rare case that the track would sound more cohesive without a section dedicated to BGM.  Secondly, the source melodies have all been brought in verbatim, with only the rhythmic changeups in the Distorted World return at 7:03 having any hint of playing around with motifs.  You have an 8-minute run-time and plenty of opportunities to explore these tunes, so consider going back over the BGM integration so far and experiment with them.

The production left me mixed feelings, though.  Firstly, I respect your choice to mix dated and modern sounds - it's a neat aesthetic that I didn't think would work in theory, but it works here.  The rest of the production, on the other hand, feels rough and I need to bring a few irks to the table.

  • The brass and symphonic string section has no articulation.  When present in the track, these instruments all sound robotic and don't smoothly transition well from one note to another.  Modern production samples like these usually have key switches to trigger for different forms of expression, so consider looking at those and seeing what you can do.  Velocities can also get shaped up to better shape the dynamic field.
  • There is an excessive amount of piercing frequencies here.  Your decision here makes sense as you use a lot of high-pitched synths and bells in your instrumentation.  But audio beyond at least 8k Hz is only intended to add a hint of sparkle into the track and shouldn't be used to carry a tone.  One idea I have is to transpose your offending synths down an octave.  Another is to put a low pass at around 10k on the harshest sounding ones.  Fixing this step is vital, as it made the track too fatiguing to listen to otherwise.
  • While I'm on the subject, the mix itself feels cluttered and muddy.  It happens most often when the Sinjoh/Coronet Rhodes piano overlaps the lead(s), a lead overlaps another or the rare occasion where the bass overlaps either.  Even the percussion feels muffled and buried as a result of not enough separation between the parts.  With so many instruments and a hefty track length, the idea of going into each part's EQ settings feels daunting.  But it's worth figuring out which samples to make cuts to get others to poke through.

As a concept, it's a neat idea, and it added a sense of drama to the source material not present before.  But the track itself is too painful to listen to thanks to the unhealthy high frequencies, with parts blending into each other and the real-sounding brass and strings sounding too robotic.  If you decide to revise this, cutting the highs is essential.  On the other end of the spectrum, I see further experimentation with the source melodies as desirable.  Whatever happens, Adrian, don't give up - I see potential in you.

NO (resubmit)

Edited by Rexy

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On 8/31/2019 at 8:20 PM, Rexy said:

First of all, it took me a long evening to take notes on the source tunes, so I'll provide a breakdown for my fellow judges.

0:31-1:13 - B section of Spear Pillar / Arceus motif.
1:41-2:05 - Bells from Sinjoh Ruins / Mt Coronet.
2:28-3:12 - Rhodes piano from Sinjoh Ruins / Mt Coronet; strings come in and provide the melody for the former.
3:14-3:45 - Mt. Coronet's B section.
3:55-4:17 - Rhodes piano stabs from Mt. Coronet's C section, with strings following.
4:17-4:47 - Pokéthlon Finals A section.
5:02-5:43 - Final part of C section in Mt. Coronet
5:58-6:04 - Brief reference of Sinjoh Ruins' C section.
6:08-6:40 - Distortion World's A section on muted trumpets, moving to the B section on sustained brass. (Sorry, but I didn't hear anything from the Arceus source here.)
6:48-6:58 - Last section of Sinjoh Ruins, which also references the A section of Spear Pillar and the brief Giratina melody motif.
7:02-7:17 - Distortion World's A section. 
7:17-7:39 - Sinjoh Ruins bells.
7:57-8:03 - Last reference for Sinjoh Ruins / Mt. Coronet before ending.

❤❤❤❤

This is a very long track, but I can keep things short since the issues I have are pretty straightforward.  First is the vanilla samples and its usage.  Stuff like strings, brasses and other instruments seem to be lacking articulation to say the least, and they come out as extremely artificial.  Second, the mix sounds like it has a ton of highs, a lot of lows but not much when it comes to mid content.  Things like brasses have a very sharp edge, which is something that can happen naturally in a performance, but it seems like every stab here is articulated to be as sharp as possible.  Many other instruments have a piercing quality to them (i.e. the final synth is resonating so hard I had to just take my headphones off). Also, even tho there are lows, almost everything on that range sounds pretty muffled.

I'm not huge on this arrangement either, as it seems too disconnected and I don't feel it's conveying much even though it has a very long runtime, but this is mostly subjective and not my main reason for rejection.

Overall, too many issues in plain sight here for me to let this through.

NO

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Thanks Rexy for that breakdown!  Always helpful to have that for complex arrangements like this.

I've been listening to this one for a while and have been on the fence about it.  Ultimately I'm in agreement with most what what my fellow judges had to say: the vanilla synths and mechanical instruments are just unpleasant, and there's a lot of crowding in the busier sections that's causing both muddiness and some pumping.

On the plus side, I personally thought the arrangement was just fine.  It covers a lot of territory but it all seemed coherent, perfectly respectable for a long-form exploration.  As for the frequencies, I have better high-end hearing than my colleagues, so for me a melody being carried in the 2.5KHz range is fine, but I understand how many listeners would find it unpleasant, and a low pass at 10KHz will almost always do more good than harm.

I'd love to see a revision, but the sound quality for sure need another pass.

NO (resubmit)

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