Dwelling of Duels December 2009 Results: MAGfest Free Month!

It’s that time again. MAGfest Month! MAGfest stands for “Music and Gaming Festival” and it’s held every January. As I explained in last month’s write up, this month is typically filled with entries for the Dwelling of Duels competition. Veterans on hiatus wake up from hibernation just to make a song for MAGfest…of course, let’s not count out the rising stars and newbies who step up and bring their A-game to the compo. I guess the reason for the hype behind this month is because most of the video game remixing communities actually meet up at MAGfest, exchanging stories, attending shows of game music bands, jamming, and having an all-around good time. Additionally, the full results of this month are revealed live during MAGfest before going online…there’s even a live listening party for crying out loud!

Anyway, it can take me ages to praise each entry since the count is over 40…so I apologize in advance for missing out on good tracks. I’m highlighting my absolute favorites, but I urge everyone to download all these tracks including the alternates. Click here for the results and enjoy!

1st Place – Hope Fails, Level99, Moonlapse: Ecco: TTT – Waves of Stone

Congrats on first place to these people! While not my favorite track of the month, I can see why people voted for this one the most. Ecco the Dolphin music is somewhat popular among the game remixing community. Spencer Nilsen is responsible for the Sega CD version music of “The Tides of Time”, which this arrangement is based on I’m assuming. While I’m not familiar with the source material, I LOVE Spencer’s work with Sonic CD, which I still regard as the best Sonic music ever. Anyway, these three individuals are not exactly frequent DoDers. Perhaps Hope Fails (a.k.a. OA) started off his music on DoD but later “migrated” to be more active on OC ReMix, taking helm on the Final Fantasy IV project. Level 99 and Moonlapse worked on FFIV as well, so it’s no coincidence that these three are collaborating on this gem. Anyway, great work all around. Can’t fault the awesomeness of Hope Fails and Level 99’s guitar shredding, feeding off each other’s energy well. The biggest asset of this track are the amazing synths/keyboards in my opinion (handled by Moonlapse I’m assuming). Love the feel it gives to the music…goes really well with the guitars. There are some faint vocals there as well which become more prominent during the downtempo mid-track.  Great work, people. It’s nice to see Hope Fails in DoD again after so long…bringing in his associates along for the ride. I mentioned before that I’d love to see Level99 frequent DoD more after his collab with LuIzA, and here he is!

[4th Place] norg: The History of the World of Video Game Music

So this has to be a first for Dwelling of Duels. A video entry! Veteran entrant norg decided to surprise everyone with being different. While it’s all about the music, it’s great to see how in-sync the video and his medley are. You can’t really separate them from each other…the combination of simple game footage, hilarious text narratives, and stills turn this entry into a funny mockumentry. The intro attempts to create music for Pong…it’s the only section of the 10-minute track in which the music and footage drag on and get boring. It gets good after that though. Norg really knows how to shred…and create some catchy synths to go with that. I’m wondering how many classic game tracks can you recognize without the game footage? I’m not really familiar with the pre-Nintendo era, but some of the popular arcade music like Pac-Man and Dig-Dug are obvious to me. The Sega bit is surprisingly filled with games that aren’t Sonic besides one small reference to the end jingle. I awed as soon as we moved on to the SNES era…the best part of this track in my opinion. He flawlessly managed to combine Super Metroid (Lower Crater?) and A Link to the Past (Dark World) tracks…never knew that they can fit together so well. Towards the end norg goes all “time is running out” on us and plays even faster…trying to cover some of the music he “forgot” to highlight under 10 minutes. Hilarious.

6th Place – Zoola, Ergosonic: Kirby’s Adventure – Roy G. Biv

Man…Ergosonic is on fire! I’ve been a fan ever since his debut a couple of months back. Such great acoustic guitar playing and recording. He chose the right source to display his skills, too; Kirby Adventure’s “Rainbow Resort“. It’s a great tune. In fact, most of the music in the Kirby series is solid stuff. While they’re repeated often between sequels, you can’t help but hum these melodies as they stick in your head. Rainbow Resort is a mellow song, which is why Ergosonic’s acoustic guitar skills fit really well here. He’s not alone though. Looks like his buddy Zoola is on electric guitars, too. Great solos in the track’s intro. There’s a sweet downtempo mid-track that throws a bit of “Grape Garden” acoustics in the mix…followed by Zoola’s awesome guitars once more. The ending is long and pretty chill…almost sounds like a jam improvisation of the theme, but comes off really professional.

7th Place – TheoConfidor, Edwin Rhodes, Carl Stanley: Mega Man ZX Advent – This Volcano Is…

Wow…this is honestly my favorite track this month. This trio of entrants make this song sound so professional I honestly thought this was a live recording by a popular videogame band like The OneUps. Let me get one thing straight before I praise the heck out of this piece; the music of the Mega Man ZX series is so underrated! If you loved the music from the early Mega Man X series, you’ll most definitely like what you hear in these games. While I’m not familiar with ZX Advent’s material, I love the music of the prequel. The mixture of orchestral, techno and rock elements are perfect. Each theme perfectly suited the respective areas of the game. I fell in love with the professionally-produced official “ZX Tunes” album as well, featuring live instruments and vocals. The same can be said of the quality of this DoD track, which is a remix of the Undersea Volcano area. You can easily think that it’s a bonus track of the official “ZXA Tunes” album due to its high-quality production values. Very chill, jazzy vibe overall. Love the echoic piano intro. Nice live guitar playing. The orchestral synths complement the live instruments perfectly…really complements the original track well, too. Minute 2 grants you with a classic jazz solo show-off of guitar, piano, and trumpet playing. Great work, guys! Hope you try and submit this to OC ReMix…they’ll most definitely eat this one up.

Tenth Place – J2: Chrono Trigger – Drinking Eight Sodas Makes Me Sick

Gotta have some Chrono Trigger music in Free Months, eh? No matter how many covers and remixes this game gets, the community never grows bored of it. Goes to show you how good of a composer Yasunori Mitsuda is. Newcomer J2 covers the infamous Fair theme from the game, folk-style. While there aren’t a lot of deviations from the original source, you have to commend the excellent folk influences J2 brought to the table. Totally faithful to the original track…not to mention the good acoustic guitar, piano, and flute playing. I like.

Eleventh Place (tie) – Daniel Tidwell: Final Fantasy 7 – The Planet’s Dyin’

A Final Fantasy 7 Medley…interesting. Haven’t heard one of these in awhile. Daniel takes an atypical approach and starts off with the “Inn Jingle” and follows with a powerful metal cover of the iconic “Crystal Theme” present in most Final Fantasy installments. “Intro/Bombing Mission” follows soon after, then “Theme of Final Fantasy VII”. Finally, Daniel ends off with another common track in the series. Overall, the medley is pretty straight-forward, with most of the strength lying in the solid progression between individual songs.

Fifteenth Place (tie) – Vegeroth: Ken Griffey Jr. Major League Baseball (SNES) – I’m Hitting Balls

What’s with this weird source? Apparently, old baseball games have catchy music. Vegeroth is one of the compo veterans who we haven’t heard from in awhile. I’m glad he entered this month…because this tune is so damn catchy! Despite being only two minutes, I consider this to be Vegeroth’s best work yet. Great energy, great playing, and nice homages to baseball music with the keyboards. Definitely should’ve placed higher in my opinion.

Twenty-Third Place (tie) – Matt Thompson: Mega Man X – Flame Mammoth’s Stage

The title says it all. Flame Mammoth Metal. I enjoyed this despite being basic. Good playing, good recording, and some nice improvisation/solos toward the end.

Alternate – VikingGuitar: Mega Man 4 – Dust Man (You Ain’t Gettin’ No More)

One question comes to mind when listening to this Dust Man rock cover: WHY IS THIS AN ALTERNATE?! To be frank, this is one of my favorites this month. Great production values and excellent guitar playing. I so want more!

Alternate – MC Nachbar (virt): Guitar Hero: World Tour – Rock Band

Jake “virt” Kaufman’s alter-ego; an all-star rapper! It looks like a growing trend in The Shizz community; rockers turning into rappers. Danimal Cannon had the same transformation during “Password Month” with his humorous Mega Man 9 track, and now Jake’s doing the same thing. A bit of background: virt composed Contra 4 and worked on Red Faction: Guerrilla. Seriously. This alternate along with his samba-themed Mario Paint entry in 2nd place show how versatile he can be. While the latter isn’t my cup of tea, I found this entry to be quite hilarious and well-made. The beat is really catchy and the lyrics are so off-the-wall. Guitar Hero/Rock Band fans have been warned since this track makes fun of the series. Lots of foul language and suggestive themes, too. Listen at your own risk.

That’s all with my absolute favorites of the month, but I haven’t even covered half of the awesomeness! You’ll find a variety of genres and games represented in the full results. Piano solos of Twilight Princess and Chrono Cross? Check. An epic Lufia power-metal remix? Double check. A Kid Icarus/Metroid medley? It’s here. Final Fantasy Tactics Jazz & Female Vocals arrangement? Yup! Even rock remixes of niche games such as Marble Madness and Legend of Dragoon are in here! So what are you waiting for? Start downloading!

Next month is Joke Month. As the title implies, entries must be funny. This will be your best bet to sample the humor of The Shizz community in full force. Stay tuned for the madness.