It’s All Coming Back To Me: Retro Game Remix Vol. 2 Review
Confession time: I haven’t played half of the games featured on this album.
But that didn’t matter. Each song made me feel like I had played that game. It brought me into the world and provided a feeling of familiarity that can only come from someone who truly loves the game.
This is what sets Retro Game Remix apart from other video game music acts: accessibility.
Most of the VGM acts I have talked about on here cater to a fanbase, offering interpretations that said fans will find interesting and new. Erek Ladd takes the time to assess the game each track is from and incorporates nuances that help to tell it’s story.
How can I know this you ask? Even though I haven’t played half of the games featured on the album, I have played the other half and can tell you that it is definitely the case for those. Plus, he kind of told his viewers on YouTube in his behind the scenes video for Snatcher’s Title Theme.
Just to give you some examples of how he does this, in the track Pollyanna (I Believe In You) there’s a guitar solo that, as far as guitar solos go, is pretty quirky just like the Mother/Earthbound games. Scars of Time from Chrono Cross offers some really atmospheric background as the song starts off, much like how the events early in the game are dark and has a mysterious vibe, but then the track kicks it into high gear just like the adventure of the game.
I highly suggest you listen to this album through a good pair of headphones. It’s the best way to catch all of the sonic nuances. The mixing is also different than his YouTube videos, and it really brings new life to the songs even without headphones. I’m going on a road trip soon and can’t wait to give it the car stereo test.
Apart from the games and nostalgic feelings that these songs are connected to, they’re all fantastic and show the range of musical talent Ladd has to offer. If he were to ever play these songs live, Those Who Fight Further from Final Fantasy VII would be his encore for sure.
Vol. 2 also feels more like a cohesive album than Vol. 1 did. It’s predecessor was a great collection of awesome covers, don’t get me wrong, but there is a flow to this record that just wasn’t there in Vol. 1. It’s easy to tell that he took his time when deciding the track listing, and I bet he knows his way around a mix tape.
One of the things that got me into collecting vinyl was the size of the albums and the fact that album art becomes an even bigger part of the music when you can hold it in your hands (emphasis of the ‘S’ there), allowing you to really study the art. While there isn’t currently a vinyl release planned for Vol. 2, the album art is just as much a part of the album’s experience. When looking at it, it’s easy to get filled with nostalgia. The bright colors and SNES controller harken back to a time gone, but never forgotten. Plus the colors have a sort of fade to them that are reminiscent of the fading of vintage t-shirt prints, something Erek confessed to collecting on the last episode of the podcast.
If you are a fan of video game soundtracks at all, do yourself a favor and check out this album when it drops on Tuesday, March 29th. If you need some more convincing, be sure to check out Retro Game Remix on YouTube. All but four album-only tracks are available to listen to there. You can also follow his page on Facebook to keep up-to date on everything Retro Game Remix.
Update 3/29/2016: You can now download the album on bandcamp.
Here’s the track list:
- Megaman 3 – Sparkman
- Double Dragon – Title Theme
- Snatcher – Title Theme
- Blades of Steel – Intermission Theme
- Megaman 2 – Dr. Wily’s Castle
- Castlevania: Rondo of Blood – Opposing Bloodlines
- Chrono Cross – Scars of Time
- Outrun – Splash Wave
- Super Mario 64 – Dire Dire Docks
- Earthbound Beginnings – Pollyanna (I Believe In You)
- Chrono Trigger – Corridors of Time
- Ristar – Splash Down
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Underwater Theme
- Metroid – Kraid’s Lair
- Final Fantasy VII – Those Who Fight Further