Game Music, Music Production

OSV Special Task Force: Get FEZ Orchestrated

OSV Special Task Force: Get FEZ Orchestrated

May 28, 2012 | | 4 Comments Share thison Facebook OSV Special Task Force: Get FEZ Orchestratedon Twitter

UPDATE! — it looks like IGN isn’t the only site taking polls for this album. Be sure to check out Kotaku and vote there as well!

Big-budget studios always have at their fingertips the option to go big-budget with their music and hire an orchestra. For indie devs, however, a full orchestra performing music for their games is like a pipe dream. Keep that in mind as you read the following…

Earlier today, Andrew Goldfarb posted a poll over at IGN. The poll is aptly titled, “Vote for The Greatest Video Game Music.” The reference, of course, is to this album that came out earlier this year, a veritable who’s-who of franchises having their musical themes performed by the London Philharmonic.

This poll apparently holds some official sway over what game(s) will be represented on the album’s sequel, “The Greatest Video Game Music II.” Here’s my problem, and perhaps the problem, with said poll. 90% of the items listed here have been arranged and performed to death by orchestras the world over in the last decade. To me, there’s one glaring exception, and there’s a lot at stake, in my mind. Below I’m going to list the poll options, with citations to other venues/recordings where the game/franchise has had its music placed over the years:

  1. Super Metroid (famously orchestrated in 1994 here, and the franchise got love at the 2010 Symphonic Legends show in Cologne, Germany)
  2. Batman: Arkham City (too new to be in any other concerts yet, but the score itself is already orchestral in nature!)
  3. God of War III (both Video Games Live albums feature GoW music. That they’ll do GoW III specifically in future performances is a foregone conclusion)
  4. Sonic the Hedgehog (PLAY!, VGL, and live events / pre-recorded albums from SEGA have all given us Sonic in orchestral format)
  5. Deus Ex (if referring to DX:HR, the OST already had fantastic orchestral production. If referring to the whole series … yeah, I could use some Alexander Brandon orchestra in my life. But again, this is AAA stuff that’s to be expected with so many other releases)
  6. Portal (Still Alive) — (honestly?! seriously … why the hell would anyone want an orchestral version of a song that’s meant to be synthetic and poppy and sung by GLaDOS? This shouldn’t even be on the poll)
  7. Assassin’s Creed (while it hasn’t appeared on VGL’s two albums yet, it’s a main-stay in the VGL repertoire. Just search YouTube, they’ve played it in multiple locations and it’s bound to be recorded any day now.)
  8. Super Mario (Medley) — (No. Just … no. Every game orchestra in the history of the planet has done Mario medleys, and 70% of them still use the arrangement from the first OGC in 1991. I’m sorry, but anyone who votes for this is an ignorant tool. We got this one covered, boys!)
  9. Max Payne II (while this may seem an interesting and under-appreciated choice on the surface, I’d bet money that if this were selected, London Philharmonic would use the exact same transcription of the main theme done by the FILMharmonic orchestra for the 2004 Games Convention in Leipzig. And that’s all we’d get.)
  10. Golden Sun (wake me up when someone actually releases an OST for these games. Getting orchestral arrangement before a retail OST? Classic cart-before-the-horse.)
  11. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Um… it’s already mostly orchestra? And it’s guaranteed to be covered by PLAY! and VGL and any other concert series because it’s a freaking huge game and Soule can probably give them original project files, minimal re-orchestration required? Pass)
  12. Halo IV (That’s just cheating. The game doesn’t exist yet. And when it does, it will have its themes played the world over. I don’t need London doing it too.)
  13. Street Fighter II (Not recorded yet, but it’s a common VGL medley.)
  14. Myst / Myst VI: Revelation (Can’t take the listing seriously when they write Myst VI instead of Myst IV. Also, I think Mr. Jack Wall has gotten his Myst IV music covered just fine by VGL.)
  15. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (VGL and VGO both cover this, and they probably do a better job than London Philharmonic, given the nature of the score. Seriously.)
  16. FEZ (WHAT?! An indie game getting orchestral treatment?! This *would* be a new, fresh, worthwhile affair! Huh, what a great idea…)
  17. LittleBIGPlanet (hmmm… this is a fairly interesting choice. I could sort of get behind this one.)
  18. Final Fantasy VI (Terra’s Theme) — (There are multiple live concert series and concert recordings that cover this one. Not even going to bother listing them.)
  19. Chrono Trigger (see above comment.)
  20. Castlevania (VGL’s got it locked down pretty nicely, and other orchestras have done a good job too.)
  21. StarCraft (Eminence’s “Echoes of War,” VGL Level 2 … we’re good)
  22. Mass Effect 3 (see comments regarding DX:HR. They apply here too.)
  23. Kingdom Hearts (PLAY!, VGO, Symphonic Fantasies… yeah, we got it. We’re good.)

With the exception of a few oddball titles on that list (Golden Sun and LBP stand out as sore thumbs), everything on this list is already orchestrated. It’s already available for consumption in many forms, or else it will be in a few months from one of any number of venues. And consider this: where are the other “indie” games in this list? The break-out burgeoning genre defined by its financial constraints and lack of a third party publisher has gotten ZERO legitimate orchestral coverage.

Ladies and gentlemen, I say we demand change. And this place is just as good a place as any to start. I urge you to vote for Disasterpeace’s FEZ soundtrack to receive the orchestral treatment from the London Philharmonic; should this succeed, who knows what’s next? I’m still holding out for an orchestral tour of break-out insta-classic indie games from the past few years. Think about it: World of Goo, Aquaria, Super Meat Boy, Minecraft, FEZ and so many others, all handled by the archetypal ensemble of instruments for the past 500 years. Let’s get the ball rolling.

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