5.01.2007

How a Russo-Nigerian Stallion Found Video Game Music, Part 3: Discovering OverClocked ReMix

When Matt Kertz mentioned to me to check out remix.overclocked.org in early 2002, I was definitely interested, but never became a hardcore fan of the site until the following summer. The first newly posted track I remember being interested in back then was DarK PurPLe's Super Mario Bros. 2 "The DarK Underground."

When I first browsed OC ReMix, I only downloaded and kept about 30 tracks. All were from games I was familiar with, including Super Mario Bros. 1-3, Super Mario 64, Sonic the Hedgehog 1-3, Streets of Rage 1-2, F-Zero, Street Fighter II and Mega Man X (which I had downloaded a ROM of). Any other games I had played had no mixes at the time, and I only played a limited number of games growing up. I quickly added enjoyable tracks from OCR to my radio show playlists, impressed at the sound quality and creativity of guys like McVaffe (Mike Vafeas). Even as a newbie, I could instantly tell the guy was treated like a huge deal there.

The advent of torrenting years later would make OCR's catalogue much more accessible than when I first arrived. But in retrospect, what's funny to me is that I initially treated the site rather nonchalantly, armed with downloading habits I'd chastise newbies for having nowadays. In that sense, I wasn't there broadly looking to find good music, I was strictly there for nostalgia. My attitude wasn't rude or dismissive, but other mixes on OCR might as well have not existed; they simply weren't on my radar.

Even when I got my first taste of ReMixes that were from games I didn't know, my horizons weren't broadened at all. I simply downloaded the new tracks that I liked and did no further exploration. My roommate back then, Dave Share, managed to download Chris J. Hampton's Chrono Trigger "New Zeal" and McVaffe's Castlevania Adventure "CV2k" (since removed from the site, no thanks to me) searching for cool stuff himself once I told him of the site. When he played those tracks on his comp, they were so catchy that I asked him what they were from and was surprised that they were also from OC ReMix. You'd think I would have learned to check out everything, but then again the task of amassing every mix back in 2002 was time-consuming and potentially not worth the returns.

Some n00b things I remember about my earliest days:
*Before realizing he was the site creator, wondering how egotistical djpretzel was for being the only person using the first person in the ReMix writeups
*Visiting VGMix shortly after learning about the ReMixer Exdous, downloading several mixes there, realizing most of the tracks sucked and subsequently never visiting it again; they had no quality control system in place at the time, and it showed
*Severely disliking Super Mario World "Flat Goom Beat" (also since removed) for being uncreative
*QuasiKaotic & Jade Gemini

Luckily I passed on the good word about OC ReMix onto my best friend, Joe Mauri. If Matt Kertz was the one who guided me to OverClocked ReMix in the first place, then Joe was the one who's actions ended up making me a hardcore fan. Back in the days when bandwidth was costly and speed was inconsistent, OCR's downloading policy strongly discouraged people hitting the site hard and snagging lots of tracks within a short period of time. About a week after telling Joe about OC ReMix however, he had unabashedly downloaded everything, the site having around 600 songs by that point. He was there for nostalgia, but he was also broadly looking to find good music.

The summer of 2002, Joe came to stay with my family during summer break, which was great for both of us. One of the most influential activities of mine that summer was taking three days to sit down and listen through all of the nearly 700 ReMixes he had, starting from the letter A and working my way down through Z. It was definitely a rewarding experiencing, as I ended up keeping about a third of the mixes, becoming familiar with lots of the artists there, and becoming indirectly familiar with a lot of popular game soundtracks. I didn't know Mega Man II's "Dr. Wily Stage 1" or Final Fantasy VI's "Terra" beforehand, but I definitely knew them now. From that point forward, OC ReMix was a daily visit. Once I lurked the forums, I decided my best approach for becoming a community regular would be to post a handful of mix reviews first to have some posts to my name; you can still see those archived posts today.

Much like my habits with mainstream music I liked, I meticulously tagged the OC ReMixes I held onto. While the framework was good, OCR's informational database was really lacking back then as it was only as complete as djpretzel's spare time or interest could manage. Thus, my curiosity had me researching the source tunes of the mixes at Zophar's Domain, original composers, ReMixer real names, email addresses and homepages; whatever wasn't readily available, I worked hard to track down out of my own personal interest.

My burgeoning interest in OverClocked ReMix quickly led to me altering the divided focus of my radio show singularly to the amateur VGM arrangement community. That'll take us to Part 4...

1 comment:

Tony said...

Great blogs so far, they were a very enjoyable read! It's funny how many of us 20-somethings all have similar stories of growing up with video games... brings back some great memories :)

I'm looking forward to the next installment in your "How a Russo-Nigerian Stallion Found Video Game Music" story! Maybe in a future blog you can answer the question on everybody's (well at least my) mind - will VG Frequency make a return one day?!

Keep up the good work!!