by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Today I realized that the Overclocked Remix community has been around since 1999! I started listening to the music on the website back around 2002 or so, once I was out and about, and finally had a PC of my own. Today I also learned that OCR has 129 albums on the website, aside from the literal thousands of remixed video game tracks in their archives. With that many albums to pick from, there’s no way I can list my favorites because, at one point in time or another, I’ve downloaded most of these. But this community has been around for a good couple of decades, where people come together to create incredible remixes of some of our favorite games, and some overlooked hits (depending on who you talk to, at any rate). When I thought about the question “What are my favorite OCR albums?”, about ten popped up immediately in my head, but I decided to narrow it down to five, which was, as you can probably imagine, not easy.
You can find the Overclocked website right here, as well as on Youtube! Next, on things I’ve learned today, they also have a Soundcloud! The latest album is one I haven’t listened to yet, but it’s officially on my to-do list: Chronopolis: Music Inspired by Chrono Cross. Two I wanted to mention that didn’t make the cut, were Relics of the Chozo (Super Metroid) and EarthBound: Bound Together. I love both of these, especially the sinister sounds of Planet Zebes, but I simply listen to them less frequently than the other albums that I picked out here. I enjoy all of the tracks on Bound Together, in particular, the Black Market track, but these that I highlight are simply a cut above the rest.
Super Dodge Ball: All Around the World: Super Dodge Ball is a game I have tremendously fond memories of. I used to rent it all the time when I’d stay with my grandmother during the summer. I never owned it, but I may as well have. This was before I fell down the well of “Mostly Playing RPGs”. I played this just about every day, and I was so proud when I beat it. Most of the tracks on this album are based on a different region, though also covers for the theme of the Doppelganger team. Each track has a different from feeling, from the record static at the beginning of “I Lost My Balls in Moscow” that seamlessly transitions a very Russian dance, to (honestly my favorite track) the hip-hop feel of “Nairobi Hop”. Nairobi Hop is also the first time I heard Mega Ran do anything, so I unwittingly was exposed to him here before I found Black Materia. It captures the essence and the pace of a game so ridiculous as Super Dodge Ball expertly and still makes me want to play the game to this day. Best Tracks: Nairobi Hop, I Lost My Balls in Moscow, Friendly Fire, Doppelganger. Album Download: All Around the World
Super Street Fighter 2 Turbo: Blood on the Asphalt: Here’s another album that I listen to a lot, which was published back in 2006. It’s 24 tracks of pure goodness. Now personally, I’m not crazy about tracks that have a vocal line to them, as some of them are particularly hit-or-miss. But Spittin’ Narcissism by Jose the Bronx Rican is absolutely gold. He perfectly captures Vega/Claw in that track, and if I had to pick one favorite, it would easily be in the contention. This one’s particularly impactful, since EVO 2019 is just around the corner, which means a weekend of fighting games. Each remix contains the essence of the hype, the energy that came with the original song. R U Overdrive, Ryu’s theme really gets the blood pumping and makes you want to leap out of your seat and get shit done. Thank You, Dee Jay has a Jamaican club vibe, and New Mexican Thunderbird surprised me by making me love T. Hawk’s theme. I can’t think of a fighting game album that is any better, and that includes Killer Instinct’s OST. Best Tracks: New Mexican Thunderbird, Army Girl, Made in U.S.A, Guile’s Mile Long Dong. Download Link: Blood on the Asphalt
Mega Man X: Maverick Rising: From 2012, we have a. . . FIVE Disc album?! That’s right, Mega Man X: Maverick Rising covers an absolute treasure trove of X music – it includes music from Mega Man X 1-8, and the Mega Man Zero games! There is absolutely no way I could talk about this entire collection, and while not all of the X games were amazing, each one of the tracks was! Sorry, I’m not a fan of some of the later Mega Man X games. The shift to 3D was not a good one. I can tell you the first song on this album I listened to, that immediately hooked me: Tuck ‘n’ Roll (Armored Armadillo). This is another track that blew me away with amazing vocals and high-speed performance. It matched the way I imagined Armored Armadillo felt in the game, and the speed of the track itself felt similar to the last part of the game where you ride on those incredibly fast mine carts. The trumpets and guitar paired perfectly, and it set the pace for the rest of the album to follow. Luckily, it did just that. Maverick Rising has so many different styles of music, so I think everyone will have something to look forward to. Best Tracks: Tuck ‘n’ Roll, Sweeping the Storming Skies, On the Highway, Duality, Super Fighting Robot X. Download Link: Maverick Rising
Final Fantasy VI: Balance and Ruin: Now, choosing between this and Final Fantasy IV’s album was just about impossible. The only reason Balance and Ruin got the call above it, is that I played Final Fantasy VI last. Balance and Ruin is another five-disc album and dropped in 2013. Final Fantasy VI features some of the music that stirs up the most powerful emotions in me, just listening to it. Now is the Winter (Mines of Narche) has a smooth Jazz feel, which I do love, but it’s no match for The Descendants of Erdrick’s version. This is another album that really has such an incredible variety of songs. The Jazz of Mines of Narche, the massive full orchestra of Ascension of a Madman (Kefka), Savage Triumph (Wild West) pairing the Veldt with an electronica sound? You bet. One of my favorites had to be A Simple Coin Flip Can Change Fate (Coin Song). Out of all of the music in Final Fantasy VI, Coin Song probably hits the hardest on an emotional level to me, and the simple guitar strumming really just nails it. Jake Kaufman’s on this album too! The other “best” song for me, is The Impressario (Opera House). The vocals were perfect, and it honestly felt like Queen to me. If you listen to nothing else on these five damn albums, listen to The Impressario. You’ll be glad you did. Best Tracks: The Impressario, Gestahlian Sonata, There’s Nothing Like Flying, Ascension of a Madman, Katabasis. Download Link: Balance and Ruin
Chrono Trigger: Chrono Symphonic: This album had two themes: Chrono Trigger and a Symphonic Orchestra style. No hip hop, no metal, no rap, no hard rock (not that I don’t love all of those). This felt like it belonged in the score of a movie, or on stage for an opera. The Piano featured in Darkness Duelling was absolutely mesmerizing, and Darkest Omen could have been the main villain of a theme stepping out of the wreckage of a fire, ready to fight again. When I was in Orchestra in High School, this is what I wanted. It’s not just strung though, plenty of piano, brass, woodwinds, and percussion. Morning Sunlight and Blue Skies over Guardia are great ways to start a morning with hope and a cheerful song, whereas nothing is more ominous than Revelation of Fire. Pretty much all of the high notes for Chrono Trigger are here, and while it may not be my favorite Chrono Trigger songs, thanks to Julia Henderson, this album just lands perfectly for what I want, when I think of one of the best games of all time. I cannot say enough good things about this album, and I think most of my friends who are fans of remixes have listened to this album at least once. Best Tracks: Beneath the Surface, The Last Stand, The Chrono Trigger, Schala and the Queen, Darkest Omen, Hymn of Valor, To Lands Unknown. Download Link: Chrono Symphonic