Covers and remixes often have a bad reputation for “ruining” songs, mostly because they tend to lose the soul that made the original song so great. That’s why it’s so surprising – even for someone like me who isn’t very snobby about music – to find remixes that not only do justice to the original source materials, but even surpass them. Final Fantasy 6 is one of those classic SNES RPGs with a tremendous soundtrack, but some of the remixes to those tracks might surprise you.
I’ve covered video game remixes before, such as my favorite Earthbound remixes as well as some fantastic OCRemix tracks for Chrono Trigger. However, I think I can say without a shadow of a doubt that the OCRemix productions for Final Fantasy 6, which were released in a massive album titled Balance and Ruin, are some of the best video game remixes ever. The album has over 70 tracks on 5 discs and spans dozens of genres. Here are my favorite tracks from that album.
“The Megiddo Brigade” [Devil’s Lab]
I couldn’t decide which song I wanted to start with, so let’s start with this one. “The Megiddo Brigade” is a remix of the theme used in the Magitek Research Facility, which could be referred to as the Devil’s Lab given everything that goes on in there. I’m not exactly sure what Megiddo refers to – it’s not a term used in the game – but after hearing how well this remix captures the spirit of the original, I don’t really care.
On the one hand, “The Megiddo Brigade” understands that the Facility is primarily a military bureau. There’s a strong industrial quality that conveys this fact with perfection. On the other hand, the injection of plucked strings adds a layer that speaks all about the “sneaking around in somewhere we shouldn’t be sneaking” that occurs at this point in the game. Everything comes together, and nothing sounds like it doesn’t belong.
“The Narshemellow” [Umaro’s Theme]
Here’s an example of a song where the original was average at best, though if you ask me it was subpar and not very memorable. Maybe it’s because I never actually got Umaro when I played FF6 so it doesn’t have that same emotional pull, but listening to the song just doesn’t do anything for me. The remix, however, is probably one of my favorite tracks ever – and I’m not just talking about video game tracks when I say that.
“The Narshemellow” is a prime example of how you can keep the spirit of an original while injecting far, far more life into it. It does this by choosing a particular genre (in this case, it went with the flute jazz style from years ago) and running with it, using the original melody as its backbone. I have to give a lot of credit to the arranger, XPRTNovice, for this wonderful piece.
“Fiddlesticks Rag” [Spinach Rag]
Ragtime has become a relic of the past, of a time when everything was wealthy and glamorous and polished to the bone. The style of music certainly reflects that and I miss that kind of happy style that seems to be missing from a lot of music today. Fortunately, I have “Fiddlesticks Rag” to fill that void for the time being.
If you like songs like “The Entertainer,” “The Maple Leaf Rag,” and “Elite Syncopations,” then you’ll love this one. Be sure to check out the much dated original too.
“Event Horizon” [The Day After]
An OCRemix list wouldn’t be complete without some form of electronic composition, so here’s one of the better ones I’ve heard in a while. The original version of this song was actually no more than a quaint town theme that you hear once the world goes to ruin, but “Event Horizon” revs up the creativity engine and transforms it into something special.
It doesn’t sound like a town theme anymore. There’s something more sinister and more mysterious about the tune now. I’m all for that, and I think this is a remix that better fits the world of ruin than the original song, even if it isn’t used in the same context. For fans of electronic music, this one is a must listen.
“Train Suplex” [Decisive Battle]
As the game’s primary boss battle theme, “The Decisive Battle” is one of the most recognizable tracks from FF6, and for good reason. Even now, nearly 20 years after the game’s release, it holds its ground as one of the catchiest RPG boss battle themes ever. In “Train Suplex,” the actual fight theme won’t be recognizable until the 0:26 mark, but boy does it deliver when it gets there.
“Train Suplex” does deviate from the original a little bit, mostly by reducing the beats per minute and giving the song something of a more subtle touch. In doing so, it loses the bass line of the original but manages to take the song in a new direction – one that I like just as much. I still get chills every time I listen to this song (both the original and the remix).
That OCRemix came out with this massive Balance and Ruin album for FF6 makes me incredibly happy, and the fact that most of the songs on the album are top quality is just icing on the cake. If you didn’t like any of the songs here, you really ought to give the album a try anyway because there’s so much left to discover – and it’s FREE to download. What do you have to lose?
For those of you who have listened to the whole album, what other songs did you like?