EDITOR’S NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure … the World 1-2: Complete Collection album was promoted by Scarlet Moon Productions, founded by Jayson Napolitano. Below, OSV writer Michael Hoffmann gives his own opinion of the album.
With most remix albums you usually have some idea of what to expect. There are going to be several covers of the usual old-school vidogames, with genres of music that will vary from classical/orchestral to rock and dance remixes. While that is certainly true of World 1-2: Complete Collection, the album does much more. This isn’t just a straight forward remix album. Not only are there remixes of familiar game tunes, but this album also features several original pieces written by game composers including Chipzel (Super Hexagon), Austin Wintory (Journey), Manami Matsumae (Mega Man), Keiji Yamagishi (Ninja Gaiden) and Akira Yamaoka (Silent Hill). World 1-2: Complete Collection is an album that seeks to create a pairing of newer artists remixing older pieces, and in some cases providing original content of their own, with veteran composers from the earlier gaming generations. It’s an ambitious concept and the result is quite impressive. The original World 1-2 album contained 20 tracks that were a mix of original music and remixes. The World 1-2: Encore tracks add another 14 remix tracks to form the World 1-2: Complete Collection. There’s a whole lot to cover, so let’s dive in.
The beginning of the album focuses on original pieces by both veteran and newer composers. Manami Matsumae, for example, has a chiptune track “One Shot, One Kill,” which she revisits with a remix later in the album. The piece is reminiscent of her earlier music from Mega Man and the remix of her own track is equally an enjoyable listen, having a sound more in line with the 16 bit era. Austin Wintory meanwhile has an original piece “Circles,” featuring cellist Tina Guo, which takes a heavy amount of influence from his Grammy nominated soundtrack to Journey. Other noteworthy pieces include Chipzel’s “Tokyo Skies,” Akira Yamoka’s original rock track titled “Rose Cat,” and an electronic chiptune track by Daminal Canon and Zef titled “Legacy.” They’re some great tracks that show the artists’ creativity outside of their soundtrack work. The pieces are original but still maintain the sound and style of the videogame music that the composers are known for.
The rest of the album is dedicated to remixes which cover a wide variety of games, both old and new. The game franchises range from Zelda, Tetris, and Metroid to more recent indie titles like Spelunky, Swords & Sworcery, and Super Hexagon. Curiously enough, the track “Phendrana Drifts” from Metroid Prime gets two remixes, one from each album set. The first “The Cold Ruins of a Once Great City” by ABSRDST provides a dance/electronic interpretation of the piece. Ben Prunty meanwhile goes for a more mellow orchestral and ambient synth arrangement with “Hot Machine, Cold Surface,” which eventually builds to a more energetic rock variation. While it does seem a little odd to have the same piece remixed on an album, it’s a great demonstration of the unique approaches that remixers can take with any given source material. One of the standout remixes for indie game music is Marius Masalar’s orchestral/electronic track, titled “Maybe a Time of Miracles.” The track is a medley of themes from the game Swords & Sorcery. Masalar sticks to an orchestral arrangement for a good portion of the piece, but includes some brief shifts to more electronic instruments which keeps things interesting.
One game soundtrack that gets a surprising amount of remix attention on this album is Captain Tsubasa 2. American readers will most likely know the first Captain Tsubasa game as Tecmo Cup Soccer for the Nintendo Entertainment System. As far as I can tell, Captain Tsubasa 2 has never received an official U.S. release. Admittedly, it’s not a game series or soundtrack that I’m too familiar with. However, after listening to the interpretations present on this album, it’s definitely gotten me searching through the franchise’s history to listen to more. The Famicom soundtrack receives three different remixes, each one by a different artist. Benjamin Briggs and Theory of N put their own dance beat skills to use to cover “Schneider’s Theme” in “Pride of Nations,” while Agent Whiskers creates a rock cover of the “Hyuga Theme” with “Wrath of the Tiger.” But one of my favorite remixes and favorite tracks for the whole album is the Video Game Orchestra’s orchestral rock cover titled “Victory.”
The piece is a medley of themes from the NES/Famicom game. The group takes the catchy “Opening Theme” and gives it a full orchestral rock treatment that sounds akin to a JRPG battle theme from the Tales series. The arrangement continues into the “Hyuga Theme” and the “Nankatsu Theme.” This is followed by a brief piano interlude to cover the “German Theme” and “Brazil Theme.” Finally the entire group comes back in to finish with the triumphant “Ending Theme.” The original tunes from Captain Tsubasa 2 are incredibly catchy, as you would expect of a game soundtrack from that era, but the well done rock arrangement is really what sells this medley track. The piece flows from one theme to the next seamlessly and provides some good variety in tone and pace. A set of energetic rock arrangements at the beginning, a more mellow piano solo in the middle, and a celebratory finale with the “Ending Theme.” There are many excellent pieces on the World 1-2: The Complete Collection, but I think this is probably one of my favorites.
To conclude, World 1-2: The Complete Collection has some great original pieces from a wide selection of game composers and it features some fantastic remixes and arrangements of games both old and new. It’s an interesting idea to combine the talents of experienced game composers, who have worked on games from previous console generations, with the newer emerging artists, who have been inspired by the former group’s work. Whether it’s new pieces by seasoned veterans, remixes by newer artists, or original works by the newer generation, it all contributes to a great collection of music. The new works offer something fresh and unique, while the remixes cover both familiar music and a few unknown treasures. It all amounts to a new type of game music album that is a fantastic listening experience. Check this one out, if you haven’t already. World 1-2: Complete Collection can be found on Bandcamp and on Loudr.Tags: ABSRDST, AES, Agent Whiskers, Akira Yamaoka, Andi Bissig, Austin Wintory, Ben Prunty, Benjamin Briggs, Brave Wave, Chipzel, Cory Johnson, Eiko Ishiwata Nichols, Eirik Suhrke, GameChops, halc, Insert Rupee, Jessica Curry, Manami Matsumae, Marius Masalar, Module, Remixes, Reviews, The OneUps, Theory of N, Tina Guo, Video Game Orchestra, Videogame Soundtracks, Xavier Dang