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*NO* Lufia 2 "I'm Gonna Do What's Called the World's Most Difficult Trick (Mountain Mover RE:setMix)" *PROJECT*


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Lufia II was one of the first RPGs as a kid I had ever had the pleasure to play solo, and to this very day I remember renting it from Blockbuster for the first time--ages past--and thoroughly enjoying it. Great story, a colorful cast of quirky characters, and to top it all off, mind-busting puzzles galore. I don't think I've ran into many games up to that point (or since) that utilized such a wide-variety of puzzle mechanics and skills related to each, that were almost seamlessly interwoven with the overall gameplay elements, and at that young age it blew me away and boggled me, for sure.

...Was probably the most fun, albeit aggravating bit of puzzle solving I've done in any game.

In this, I had an interesting time reliving the nostalgia (...perhaps more like PTSD) of hearing the theme to Dragon Mountain once more, and I am truly ecstatic and lucky that I had caught the ability to make a remix for the album when I did. I was aware it was in a hellscape limbo for the longest time of not getting released (almost two decades!!!), and I didn't think I had a shot...but I took the gambit, asked Gario what's the 4-1-1, and here we happily are. :)

For anyone wondering, the title is a bit of a tongue n' cheek inside joke about the wacky puzzles in Lufia II, in particular one infamously known by the nickname/moniker "The World's Most Difficult Trick" (‘TWMDT’); this is in relation to the pretty damned tough sliding puzzle at the end of Dragon Mountain (that a *whole lot of people* cheated on using gamer magazines, GameFAQs or RPG Classics websites to figure out how to do), and it held some of the best items/gear in the game for either the party or your dragon companion Capsule Monster.

...And OH BOY, do I remember it, and the puzzles before it (the weight puzzle, the ice blocks, the burning plants, etc) . . . And the *frequent* amount of random battles in-between--(hence the interlude with Battle #1!)

Truly, the greatest pro gamer move is just spamming the "RESET" Spell like a mo-fo until you passed it. ;)

Jokes aside, I did not have a particular inspiration for this piece, but the closest to ones are probably artists like Savant, GameChops, DJ Cutman, Joshua Morse and James Landino, and my approach was rather random AF. It came together and was built in a way more piecemeal fashion, oddly me working from the top (high-end synths) to the bottom (bass, drums, percs and kicks) rather than the opposite way...as this time I tried to find the vibe within the source's lead material first and foremost, rather than via the source's bass or additional drum machine / samples. And it was a wild ride. People who had a glimpse at this track over the time I've been working on it and endlessly tweaking it can attest: it had grown and mutated and was thoroughly carved and fleshed out and embellished over a lengthy period...and I think the improvements are there and shine to a fine waxed polish. :) A lot of my focus here was on tightening technique and employing more interesting synth groupings, call and response, and chord stacks than I ever had before--in pursuit of strengthening my hardcore EDM skills. I wanted a banger, I craved it, and with Lufia II (being one of my fave RPGs from the SNES era) I'm glad it was the one I gave said treatment to.

 ...This may not have been the "world's most difficult [track]", but it certainly pushed the limits of my current arranging, mixing and production knowledge and skills, and added an abundance more to my repertoire. :D Thanks again to those who gave me a lot of hints, tips, tricks and critique on this piece (ya'll know who you are!), and to Gario for helping me, encouraging me along the way, and allowing me to add some spice to the wonderful album stew. If it weren't for those comments and this opportunity, I do not think the song would have elevated to the heights I've managed to raise it to.

I hope it meets expectations, and people groove out to it. ♥ :3

Games & Sources:

LUFIA II - RISE OF THE SINISTRALS / ESTPOLIS DENKI II: ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK; DISC 1, Track 34 - Towering Mountain (Logismos Shrine) & Track 8 - Battle #1; Composer(s): Yasunori Shiono; Release Date: 17 February 1995; Label: Pony Canyon & Scitron

Edited by Liontamer
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  • 2 weeks later...

lot of sfx and tempo-synced stuff to start, in particular a lot of panning elements. most of the first 45s are heavier in my left ear. i don't think that's intentional. there's a significant build into 0:55, and the first big hit of everything at 0:55 also sounds a bit weird - the bass peaks at like 70hz instead of 30-35hz like i'd expect. is there a filter on this that's cutting out subbass content there? there's also a big notch around 350hz and i can kind of hear the scooped mids there. paging resident primate @Chimpazilla for help with what i'm hearing. apes together strong.

the flourish at 1:08 that's mirrored in a lower instrument is a neat idea. there's a break at 1:23 or so that again has a lot of tempo-synced stuff going on, and especially the swooping effect got a little irritating after the first few times i heard it. the beat comes back after that and quickly goes back to the tempo-synced quieter stuff - some very fast transitions there.

there's an interlude with chips at 2:07 that again sounds hollow with whatever filter's on it, and a half-time section after that that i really dig, and then another half-time section that's different and i dig that a lot. this is a great break section, still featuring some of the tempo-synced stuff but really shifting the vibe a lot. the heavily distorted synth that comes in at 2:55 was >9000x louder than i expected and was probably too much. the following trap-adjacent (pitfall?) section with the funky hats is again a neat change in style. it's very busy and probably could use a bit of trimming down/volumizing down stuff that's less important (just a little, this part is honestly real close).

there's a big build into 3:38 that really subverts expectations with the drop. nice use of the vocal clip to further that subversion. eventually it picks back up at 3:50 and goes through the melodic content from Towering Mountain. the transition out of that section (or lack of one) is pretty jarring. the following perc-less pad section loses a lot of energy fast, and the following detuned bell vibe is pretty minimal and felt like it lost some direction. i did like the shifts to chords that were added to that melodic snippet. i admit that i would have been very fine with a short outro after the section ending at 4:05 - the last section is very different and there's not a ton tying it to the first 80% of the track.

i think that there's a lot of little things here that, if corrected, would result in a really ridiculously great track. i am particularly interested to see if we can figure out why the opening sounds like it's missing part of the freq range. that said, it's a really fun listen and does some super creative stuff with musical elements and especially with synth effects, although the mastering needs work. i think this track has a place on the site, if not now, then eventually.




Edited by prophetik music
spelling errors and clarity
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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2023/12/30 - Lufia 2 "I'm Gonna Do What's Called the World's Most Difficult Trick (Mountain Mover RE:setMix)"

Love me some Lufia 2. One of the few OSTs out there where I'm legitimately happy to a remix of literally any track on there. And it's a huge OST.

Really fun idea. I definitely grok that trauma of resetting the puzzle over and over again. Although not sure about the "pro gamer move" reference. This is a long track, but varied to an impressive extent; no danger of this wearing out its welcome.

I agree with proph that both the individual synths and the track as a whole are missing some soundscape. Bass presence is ridiculously weak, like cheap audio cassette player quality. Those poor kicks are trying to hard to break through, when they're there at all, and there often isn't an instrument at all that I would label "bass." And the sound design is very late '90s/early-2000s; synths these days generally have more complex timbre.

I'm extremely ambivalent about this. On one hand, the production is not at the level we normally look for. I can't remember the last time I've even considered YESing a track with this little low end. But the arrangement is so much fun and filled with so much obvious passion. I'm 100% with proph that in a perfect world, we'd get a version of this that was EQed properly and had more sophisticated sound design. Such a track would be one of my favorites on the whole site. But if it's a question of having this version on the site or not, I'm still going to lean on the side of

YES (borderline)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Note: I don't believe I can produce an unbiased vote due to this being on an album I'm directing, but I will drop my thoughts on this regardless.

This is a track that Voduo and I worked through quite a bit, so I know all of the iterations that it went through. It's biggest strength throughout was it's daring use of SFX to compliment the source, and the variety of harmonizations used through the mountain source. There is a little clashing between the minor harmonies and major melody sometimes, but in this stage it more or less adds flavor and doesn't detract from the enjoyment I get from the track.

The production is clean, though I do hear the lack of the lowest end (anything below 50hz) upon relistening with some fresh ears. That could be solved by giving the instruments acting as the bass and kick some bass EQ balancing, since it's not *lowpassed* from what I can see in a spectrum analyzer, just lacking in that area. That'd solve both the lack of presence the bass has on neutral headphones and the overall soundscape issue this has. I wouldn't mind handing it back to her with that critique in mind, but I also do believe that it's in a state that's good enough at least for the album and possibly for the site; I'd not have accepted this track as finished otherwise.

I'd likely give this a YES, even if I wasn't biased in favor of the track to begin with.

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I am remiss in not getting around to this one sooner, having been chimp-signaled!  I know proph and I discussed this in the Discords but I failed to vote.  So, now I will.

Right off the bat, I see that the peak max is hitting 1.7db so something has happened on the mastering side, either a limiter fail or a failure to limit.  I don't hear any over-compression artifacts, but I wonder if YouTube encoding/compression will cause artifacts on a file that goes over 0db.  I just don't know.

This song feels overstuffed to me, like there are too many elements, and too many varied ideas and sounds happening at the same time.  Nothing is clashing dealbreakingly, but it just kind of feels like too much stuff, too much of the time.  I feel like there is so much going on that nothing is coming through very clearly, the mixing is muddled.  It is hard to get a super clean mix with this many elements. 

As others have pointed out, the bass lacks presence.  I agree this would probably be solved by EQing the lowest frequencies out of all elements other than kick and bass; really nothing should be playing below 150-200-ish Hz other than kick and bass.  Also, sidechaining should be used so that when the kick hits, it isn't conflicting with the bass (or anything else) which causes frequencies to dogpile, which reduces mastering headroom.  I'm not hearing much sidechaining in the mix, if any?  I sidechain everything in my mixes, not so much for effect as for mixing clarity.

The bass playing from 2:34-3:02 does not sound good at all.  The patch is playing a full octave below what it is capable of playing, and I can hear it groaning under the strain.  That section is cool, but it needs a bass that can play those low/sub notes to support it.  At 3:38, the bass has a similar problem; it sounds like it is trying to keep up but just can't hit those low notes, and it feels uncomfortable.

I do love the vibe and energy of this track!  I recognize some of my own earlier efforts in this mix however, back when I wanted to throw too many competing ideas in together.  Sometimes it makes sense to go through and remove things when that happens, and focus on the elements you really want in the mix, and make them shine.

Reading through the preceding votes, everyone digs this arrangement, and I do too!  But there are tons of critiques and suggestions given regarding the sound choices and mixing.  I can understand voting YES to put this track on OCR, but I am going to say that some of these issues should be cleared up first.  If this passes, it will be one of those tracks the artist looks back on a few years from now and says "oof."  

At a minimum, please make sure your master is limited at 0db.  Also, please go through and EQ things so that nothing is playing in the low end (below 150Hz at the very least) other than your kick and bass.  Replace bass patches that aren't able to carry the low notes.  Do some sidechaining to avoid things competing whenever the kick hits.  When this is mixed better, as everyone else is saying, this will be a tremendously good track.

NO (resubmit, borderline)



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Panning's odd right from the get-go. Yeah, on headphones, this is all too wide, and the elements here all just sound lossy, and I can't explain why. Absolutely bizarre to have the track mixed this way, then have it finish saying "Reset" and having it centered and clear. :-D This'll seem like I'm disgusted or felt this was really poor mixing; in 22 years of evaluating VGM arrangements, I've never, not even once, heard a track mixed in this way and can't explain why it sounds like this. Whatever approach was taken, it doesn't create some kind of synergy in the overall stereo combination, it actually saps color & personality from it, and I'm unsure if it's just from panning wideness. I haven't read any other decisions before making mine, but I'm hoping a musician J can spell out how panning should work and what approach works best to create noticeable tilt on either side while not sounding so lossy and lacking clarity. A minor thing, but the snaps at 4:34 were too loud. Looking at Chimpazilla's comments now, I wasn't bothered by too much going on, just whatever frequency cuts or panning decisions ended up harming the clarity.  

This may even sound fine on monitors/speakers, but I'm primarily a headphone listener and the way this has been mixed sounds lossy, imbalanced, and lacks clarity. I'm a NO strictly on production, but enthusiastically on board with this otherwise; writing-wise, this is the coolest Lufia arrangement I've ever heard, flat out pro-grade Japanese official arrangement album energy, and I can understand YESing it. The sound design's otherwise creative (chips at 2:06 were cool; nice gradual rise & fall in the lil' vocal bits from 3:01-3:28), I love the textures and dynamics, the beats are impactful, and the arrangement is fire. I'm hoping some sort of switches can be flipped to undo this overall effect and restore some sheen and sharpness to this.

NO (resubmit)

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The story and journey are the great strengths of this track. I especially like how you’ve brought the Battle Theme 1 as the “B section” that starts at 3:01 and then builds back up to a recapitulation of Towering Mountain.  The main source however is the Towering Mountain theme and it’s the one that the majority of this is built on. There are some nice contrasting sections that have less going on so when we get back to the full sections they really feel big. For me a highlight of contrast is the switch to longer bass notes at 2:34, coming from the shorter length notes makes these ones feel much more impactful (that might even be a different bass sound too?)  The arrangement's structurally well put together and my only gripe with the arrangement is that the ending does lose a bit of energy as it comes to a close. Maybe the ending could have been shortened some to help keep some of that energy, start it out very quiet and have a long crescendo until the final reset, or some crazy effects build up?

There are some production issues that do need to be mentioned.  The bass is lacking presence and the mids are scooped out making the top end feel hot.  You could bring the mids up and the highs down, as this is the area they generally sit in.  That could help to give the melody more clarity. Those imbalances are there, but they aren't so off to me that it takes away from my listening to it.  I get swept up in the cacophony and hold on for the wild ride hoping that it's not going to reset on me and start over. 

YES (borderline)

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  • 1 month later...

Any track with this many borderline votes already is going to be a challenge, so I'm going to do my best to approach this objectively without the weight of my own expectations or previous feedback I've given on Queen's other tracks.

We start off with a pretty good soundscape but the mixing is very puzzling - I don't feel like there's much substance in the low end throughout much of the track outside of the kick drums, or the basses that are present are so low that they actually don't come through at all to the human ear. Make sure that you're selecting your basses strategically based on which patches work with the range that you're writing in, and keep an eye on where your bass fundamental is falling. Adding in upper harmonics by layering in other patches (being careful to cut out the lower frequencies from all but your sub, so you don't encounter phase cancellation issues) or by adding saturation to your existing bass can also help that bass come through audibly. Human hearing can span from 20Hz-20kHz, but in reality if your bass only exists down in those lowest registers, or it's not mixed properly, it's not going to be heard by most listeners on most setups, and I think that's what's happening here.

The stereo spread is also problematic, and I'm definitely in agreement with Liontamer that it's sort of intangible and probably can't be diagnosed without looking at your project file. That said, it feels imbalanced at multiple points, and I also suspect that there might be bass elements like your kick/synths/snares that are panned off to the side. As a general rule of thumb, you want your low end presence to be pretty much mono, and the higher up the frequency range you go, the more you can pan to the sides without causing issues. This is where you'll need to use your tools to analyze what's going on on your bus and master level to see if things are generally balanced - currently, it feels like they're not.

I also need to echo the overall balance issues that I've brought up on previous submissions and I'll say again here - you have so many great ideas but you can't have them all fighting for attention and retain that same impact. 2:55 is a great example of this - you have so much going on and so many effects that the big supersaw has to be cranked up so loud just to cut through, and that's not really the approach you want to take. 4:48 also suffers from this - some of your synths are awash with so much reverb and effects, not to mention being a heavily-harmonic synth from the start, that they leave no room for anything else. If you compare this to melodic dubstep tracks by artists like Seven Lions, for example, they use supersaws to great effect, but there's almost nothing else going on when those synths are present. Dropping out other elements through gain reduction, cutting layers, or sidechain ducking to make room for what you really want to highlight is a much better move than simply increasing the volume on your synths even further.

All that said, your arrangement is really good here. There's a ton of compelling effects and sounds, and like many of your other pieces, you have a wealth of great ideas that you brought to the table. I actually find the arrangement to be pretty coherent and strong, even compared to your usual tracks - the use of chiptune sounds is well integrated, and the drum writing is strong too. On a fundamental level, if I'm not looking at production quality, this is a pass every day of the week, but the overall listening experience feels unpolished in a way that ultimately has a negative impact on my listening experience.

I want to stress this - this one is absolutely salvageable and I think would take significantly less work to polish than many of your other tracks that haven't passed. I don't think this is a lost cause, but after a lot of contemplation, I think this needs another round of polish to sand off the harsh edges and achieve a better balanced mix, so that your wonderful arrangement can shine.

NO (resubmit!)

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Posted (edited)

Gonna keep this concise if I can. You’ve listed James Landino, Dj Cutman (and his GameChops label), and some other VGM stalwarts as influences. Good taste. What they all have in common is an ability to take simple melodies and execute a REALLY tight blend of production and arrangement to put out the product they do. Actually, with Cutman and a lot of GameChops releases, it’s less arrangement and more just market-savvy packaging. Regardless, they all have a way of using a specific, targeted sound set and high production value to achieve their goals. 

This, however, is all over the map. Is this song a tight EDM track? It shouldn’t meander the way it does, never settling on an identity. Is it an experimental jam? Lean into it but don’t expect to have mass appeal. Sounds have been selected that don’t complement each other or have a clear cut goal and that hurts the stated aim of this song. It’s presenting itself as one thing but is fundamentally not that thing.


There’s a lot of other specific, actionable feedback already given (instrument selection, mixing, etc) so I’m going to stay high-level and say that if your goal is to sound like modern commercial VGM/EDM remixes, you’ll need to drastically simplify your approach and then polish it to a mirror sheen. FOCUS on just a few elements to showcase, and everything else should support those elements. 


If this song passes the panel, cool. It’s got some neat ideas and goes on a journey, even if it seems to detour too often. My vote is due to clumsy, over complicated execution of what should be much simpler.



Edited by Flexstyle
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Okay, so, this arrangement is awesome. Personally I don't care if you're trying to fill the shoes of the references you named, and I'm not going to judge whether or not it passes the bar based on whether or not you hit a target. I think this is a great interpretation with a lot of really fun interesting things going on.
But I am going to no it because of the mixing. If you ARE going to go for this hybrid EDM thing, the sound has to be full and vast, with a lot more punch and substance. Right now, I feel like we're really missing a lot of the bottom half, almost like you carved it out intentionally in mastering, since it seems to be missing in all of the instruments, not just the ones that should be providing that bottom end. This arrangement has so much power, but it's hamstrung by the way you put it all together. I don't care too much about the panning, but I do care about the way that it's taking a lot of incredible instrumentation and sucking the life out of it with EQ. 
My issue with giving feedback is that I am not entirely certain how to do it because it's SO busy and there's SO much going on in SO many places that I can't really pick out specific things for you to add foundation to, but I would start with the kicks and the bassline. Also, watch how many times you're stacking pads, and watch how they're EQed as well. I hear several of them stacked on top of each other, so what that does is skew the curve to the right, and suddenly we're missing a lot of stuff.
This is a really great arrangement, I know this can be incredible with a little bit of work!
NO (resubmit!)
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A judge's aim isn't to identify whether it hit the artist's brief or not—which Flexstyle touched upon—but actually whether it hit the site standards. And on a creative level, I like what you did with it. Yes, it has a more simplistic approach with some interpretive variations on the primary source and the battle theme's usage as a bridge—but in this case, simplicity works.

To break it down even more, you put the opening notes of the melody on the gated synths at 0:14, overlaid it with the melody, and kept it this way throughout the build that ended at 0:54. You then got the melody at complete focus at 1:08 with the half-time drums, changing to four-on-the-floor kicks and gates at 1:24 and repeating both ideas with different synth layers from 1:38 onwards. The cute 8-bit break at 2:06 turned to more of that half-time sound when interpreting the primary source's second half. At the other side of the battle theme at 3:38, most of your second interpretation had no percussion and more of those Mega Drive-style bells for a more spacious finish, give or take a brief section at 3:51 that briefly went back to that initial main source presentation. I am also okay with how your bass and pad (try to) work together, and it doesn't detract from your overall vision, either.

So, while that checks out, the production, on the other hand, still needs some work. Yes, I love your choice of effects and overall sound design, so that should be fine, but the mastering still needs work. As previously mentioned, there's no low end here, and the bass, in particular, is trying so hard to poke out from the rest of the instrumentation. Chimpazilla mentioned an excellent technique for doing EQ cuts on other instrumentation to get it to shine through, in addition to side chains when necessary. The little bits of bass I am hearing are trying to push through the sub-frequencies, which would typically rumble under an actual present bass at a higher octave and get the subwoofer to really work, if anything at all.

It makes sense to mention EQ cuts on other instruments because when you're writing several dozen stem projects like this one, it makes sense for you to understand where your fundamental frequencies (aka pitches) and harmonics are so you can choose what you want to emphasize/minimize and EQ the rest of your instruments around your cuts and gains. It'll no longer be a case of piling up a lot of virtual performers on the same pile on a stage and more of squeezing them neatly for the sake of performance.

Angelique, this is a creative idea, and I am all for this submission, making it onto OC Remix. However, it needs another mixdown pass before I feel confident about its inclusion. Again, don't give up, and keep being you. :-)

NO (resubmit)

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  • Liontamer changed the title to *NO* Lufia 2 "I'm Gonna Do What's Called the World's Most Difficult Trick (Mountain Mover RE:setMix)" *PROJECT*
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