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Overclocked Favorites: Submerged Melodies May 15, 2008

Posted by eric22222 in General, VG Music.

The great thing about platforming games is that it’s easy to figure out where to go. You go right, except in the rare case where you go up. Even though games were two-dimensional, you really only had to worry about one dimension. Sure, you have to jump every now and then, but you mostly just keep moving along a line. Then you get to the water level. It breaks all dimensional boundaries within a game. Whereas you once never worried about what may be lurking above and below, you’re now paranoid as to what horrid creatures await in the murky depths. Water levels mean that mobility is limited, many abilities are useless, and you suddenly can’t rely on regular platforming heuristics. However, water also seems to be where some of the best music comes into play.

Aquacadence – Super Mario Bros. 3, NES
This one starts with a great sense of anticipation: one note held for several measures before the melody comes in. It reminds me of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The opening section is beautifully orchestrated with a snare drum to give it a march-like feel. It then goes into a very light mode, with piano for bass and bells for melody. Watch for the flute counter-melody in there, too: it’s a wonderful touch. After moving through that section, it reverts to the orchestral majesty of the opening. A slight tempo and key change add to the excitement. This piece is a serious improvement over the original. Why do I say that? When I heard the original, it meant thousands of jellyfish to avoid, or a massive fish trying to swallow me whole. The playful chords seemed so ironic with death staring at me from every direction.

Beneath the Surface – Donkey Kong Country, SNES
One of the first things that drew me in to Overclocked Remix was the albums, massive collections of remixes focused on one particular game.This mix is part of a two-disc album called Kong in Concert. The original Donkey Kong Country game had a great soundtrack to begin with, so a remix of it, well, that’s just bound to be awesome. This is a jazzy mix, which just makes it all the better. As far as the whole composition, this song is ambient. That’s the word for it. You start to think a whale’s coming right for you. There’s just… so much cool things going on here, I can’t quite put my finger on it. Give it a listen, see what you think.

Aquescent Symphony – Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, N64
Zelda games have two parts: exploration and puzzle-solving. The combat is just filler, or a more skill-based version of a puzzle. In Link’s first 3-d title, music was a major puzzle. The titular ocarina was used to activate certain events, open doors, etc. Five buttons on the controller corresponded to the five notes you needed (you could also make a not sharp or flat and even bend the pitch, though that was never required of you in the game). Koji Kondo (also responsible for the Mario theme) had to create twelve very short, one track songs that were easy to remember and distinct.
This song takes a five-note ditty and turns it into a beautifully enigmatic strain of flowing chords. You’re going to hear flute, harp, and piano take melody at one point or another. The chord progression is so simple for most of the song, yet so compelling. For most of the song, the chords just alternate between two, occasionally moving to a third and forth in the sort of refrain. You can also hear the sounds of a stream in the background, which just drive in the water theme of the song.

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