One common trait of my arrangements is the use of keys, and that often extends as far as entire piano solos. This music page is dedicated to my works solely on the 88 key wonder.
|Conker's Bad Fur Day "Broken Wind Rag" (Windy)
Release: September 2012
This track was my submission for the Dwelling of Duels Acoustic Month in September 2012 - basically the standard DoD rules but with no electric instruments (i.e. no amps, synths, rhodes organs, etc) or effects. I saw it as a good chance to throw in something ridiculously upbeat and with a similar slapstick-like effect to the Angry Birds track the month before, via working on a Conker arrangement - a game I never played, but saw enough Let's Plays on Youtube and still thought the soundtrack throughout was just genius! It got me a 5th place finish out of 10 entries, albeit just missing out on the 'Above Average' grade; a tricky one to make of it, but it was still fun!
Fun Fact: I was originally going to enter with this track for the July 2012 Free Month, but I got the deadline completely wrong, being an entire day late. Coincidentally, Brandon Strader missed THIS DoD deadline in the EXACT same circumstances. New glasses, please??
|Angry Birds "SnappleMan Stole My Scrambled Eggs" (Main Theme)
Release: August 2012
This performance was submitted as a bonus entry for the Dwelling of Duels Indie Games Month in August 2012. In addition to finally finishing the Breath of Death 7 track (see the collaborations section), I wanted to do a solo entry that was a polar opposite in terms of mood. This more conservative take on the Angry Birds theme has more of an emphasis on the original's cartoony vibes, and made a strong outlet for my work within the ragtime sub-genre. In spite of the low DoD turnout, this track managed to gain a good amount of appraisal during voting, and even from SnappleMan himself when the contest was over (even though the title was an in-joke).
Fun Fact: Angry Birds ended up being the first videogame to be played by my paternal grandfather, obtained when he invested on an iPad that summer. Obviously he's not all that great at it, but it was worth seeing his reaction to it!
|Sonic 3D Blast [Genesis] "Balsa Bridge Rag" (Special Stage)
Release: August 2012
For my involvment with the Sonic Paradox Remix Shorts, I just knew from the start that one of my three additions for it would be a brief solo piano performance. Remembering how catchy the Special Stage theme from Sonic 3D was (or at least through hearing Nineko's take on OverLooked ReMiX), I saw it as a chance to do a ragtime arrangement of the source, with emphasis given towards how narrow those bridges get portrayed in the game and the general claustrophobia behind the playing field. While it didn't gain as much attention as my other two tracks for it, I actually felt really happy with how the performance came together.
Fun Fact: My track record for struggling to think of names got taken to extremes when the album was coming towards publication. Luckily, most of the suggestions from VizardJeffhog, another pianist, helped manage to seal the deal at the last minute.
|Crash Bandicoot "All for Wumpa" (The Great Hall)
Original release: May 2011
OCRemix Version release: April 2012
The spur to work on a solo arrangement for the Crash Bandicoot series again happened when OCRemix admin djpretzel lamented over the significant lack of coverage for that series there on the write-up for ABG's Chrono Trigger Schala arrangement "Third Eye". Being whom seems to be the only person on the forum with any form of passion for the series, I plucked up the courage to give it a go, even going as far as to keep asking for any production feedback to keep on improving it. When writing and performing it, I was hoping to capture a "bittersweet ending" moment, and with the arrangement depth applied I am pretty sure I've done a lot to make it all worthwhile in the end.
Fun Fact: To think, back in my earlier days on the site I was very aggressive in trying to expose some awareness towards the series. So you can tell I was disappointed at the time I brought up the whole idea, the sole response prior to conception being Brandon Strader having no idea what I was talking about!
|Portal "Still Alive After Black Friday" (Still Alive)
Release: November 2012
Originally, I wasn't going to take part in the November 2011 Dwelling of Duels Puzzle Game month due to being busy enough with the Wily Castle Remix Gauntlet AND preparations for the London Gaming Con the following month. But I was finally convinced anyway to give it a go, and within the last 24 hours I managed to put together a solo piano performance of the famous Portal end credits song "Still Alive" - a difficult source to cover since it's already perfect as it is. Either way, there was a low turnout overall for that - only 5 entries - but my entry managed to gain a respectable third place finish in spite of the rush for it.
Fun Fact: I give full credit to OA for helping me with the title, though his original suggestion was the much longer "Still Alive After Black Friday at the Department Store". OA, I love your sense of humor!
|Super Mario 64 "Penguin Blanc" (Slider/Main Theme)
Release: August 2011
Cover of a pre-existing arrangement by CarboHydroM
The August 2011 Dwelling of Duels had a very unusual theme - a Re-Cover month, in which contestants are to take other contestants' past DoD tunes and interpret them how they want. I thought this would be a very interesting opportunity to jump back in the game with my first DoD piano entry in 3 years; after playing around with several ideas, I then focused on covering "Penguin Cap" from CarboHydroM, one of the most prominent, rhythmically skilled and downright supportive faces in the DoD community, and a great friend from the VGMix days. Understandably it kept a low profile (largely in part to Prince of Darkness's awesome cover of Virt's "Crystal Flash"), but the feedback was really positive overall including some major thanks from CHM himself, and overall it finished in 7th place out of 15 entries. Huge success!
Fun Fact: The mental imagery that members of theshizz.org remarked about in regards to the entry was somewhat of an old-west saloon attire. Now I guess I can't play the game anymore without imagining Mario dressed as a cowboy.
|Heavy Rain "From Noir" (Theme of Ethan Mars/The Bulldozer)
Release: August 2011
Cover of a pre-existing arrangement by Brandon Strader
Among the many ideas I had when figuring out what to do for August 2011's Dwelling of Duels was a cover of Brandon Strader's Heavy Rain arrangement "From Mars", which due to my lack of my own PlayStation 3 soon had me watching an entire playthrough of the game on Youtube. Fearing that people might openly mock him, Brandon ultimately stated that he didn't want anyone covering his work, though when he heard that I could've done something of his he gave me the green light over IRC. Given a differently dramatic nature than the original track, it to me can reflect hard on a certain situation in the game assuming that both Ethan Mars and Norman Jayden survive that long, which did indeed provide a more chilling outcome. Ultimately it ended up being an alternate entry due to the DoD drama, though the positive feedback from both him and CarboHydroM during the voting phase was hugely surprising given the original's performance and the steadier pacing overall.
Fun Fact: When Brandon first heard the track, the first thing he said was that I should submit it to OverClocked Remix. As far as I know, covers of others' material aren't fair game, though telling that to his face required a huge amount of conviction.
|The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening "The Feather's Reflection" (Eagle's Tower)
Release: December 2010
This arrangement was written for the OCRemix Zelda: Link's Awakening collaboration album "Threshold of a Dream", and the last solo piano release to use the soundbanks over at Liverpool Hope University. I was recruited in September 2005 after passing a successful audition under the watchful eye of original project manager Aetherius, whom then suggested me to do something with Eagle's Tower. Understanding that the whole thing was meant to be "listened to on a rainy day", the whole thing ended up capturing a feeling of reflecting upon guilt and fear, with the intent to reduce one's self-esteem and subtlely pick it up just before the track finishes. I can say it was one of my proudest piano arrangements to date, and I'm also glad that project reviver prophetik took it through to the bitter end.
Fun Fact: The day after the project's release saw the death of Pepsi, one of my cats, from a combination of old age and appetite issues. The aftermath saw the chance to test the "rainy day" potential behind the album, and you know it's a good thing when it left me in a flood of tears during prophetik and Fishy's arrangement of Richard's Villa, "House of Frogs". Pepsi will still be missed.
|Super Mario Galaxy 2 "Mario's Hazy Beach Holiday" (Starshine Beach Galaxy)
Release: August 2010
For a long time I had been wanting to get involved with OCRemix's Freshly Baked Remix Challenge, which occurs once a year. So I saw the chance to try and get into it for the 2010 contest, where the roulette joined me up with JH Sounds's request for some Super Mario Galaxy 2 coverage (which I was coincidentally playing during the contest's duration). The whole thing was crafted under the influence of past vacations and all the imperfections that might happen, yet in the end you would still return home feeling bliss upon your shoulders. In the end, John enjoyed the arrangement, and it even spurred me to be watchful for the next FBRC in line and all the challenges involved.
Fun Fact: Everybody knows that I like sneaking in cameos into my arrangements in places. However, according to the FBRC's listening party chat log, the reference to the Starship Mario music in the beginning was wrongly identified by Moseph as "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas". (I still love you though!)
|Final Fantasy VI "Valiant Heart" (Searching for Friends)
Release: May 2009
This was the first piano arrangement that I had worked upon since my graduation, and one to try and get myself back into the habit. During 2009, RPGamer.com was hosting the Grand Audition 2009 contest, which was similar to Splendid Performance in structure but had a tendancy to get more restricted in regards to themes. This solo piano arrangement of "Searching for Friends" was sent in for the second round, "Flying Solo", which requires the source tune to be any song played while traveling in the air (in which case I picked the Falcon) and the style to be a solo instrument arrangement. While the contest in general didn't seek as many competitors as previous ones, it was still a worthwhile experience to get warmed up for more piano arranging again.
Fun Fact: The contest in general had so few participants that the Sound Test curator, Fermat's Last Theorem, decided to enter the contest himself under the pseudonym of "leveler". While he too qualified at one point to the final round, he ultimately confessed during the final round's results post.
|Phantasy Star III "From Landen to Terminus" (Generations of Doom / The Ground)
Release: February 2007
Some point in 2006, I found myself getting a Phantasy Star fix and played through the third game because the flexibility of the character scheme was so much of a draw in replayability to me. And during that time, I found myself being drawn towards the main theme and overworld themes in regards to musical cues, the overworld one especially becoming more epic to me as more members came into the party during the course of the game. So for me, it worked well to fit one of those 'triumphant style' piano arrangements that I felt I was capable of. It saw the light of day at RPGamer's Sound Test section at the time, though sadly it would also mark my last solo piano release for 2 years due to finishing up my studies. For me, it was definitely a way to go.
Fun Fact: Originally I was to release this prior to New Year's Eve 2006, but it turned out that I left the render behind at the Liverpool Hope campus. Cue facedesk.
|Chrono Trigger "Shadow of the Mystic" (Magus Confronted)
Release: Novermber 2006
For the November 2006 Dwelling of Duels Free Month, I thought that after some recent successes in more restrictive themed months I could try and learn from my Free Month past mistakes in this one. Studying past entry rosters it seemed as if the most commonly covered source tune at the time was the Magus battle theme from Chrono Trigger, and coupling that with a more aggressive performance style (similar to that of Noir) meant that I might be onto something more dynamic this time around. As a result it turned out to be one of my prouder performances, and was well received enough to take 7th place out of at least 25 entries.
Fun Fact: Strangely, after this month I never took part as frequently as I did for another few years. That might relate more to my studies coming to a close and progression onto establishing a new working routine... probably?
|Sonic the Hedgehog 3 "Schumacher's Bar" (Competition Menu)
Release: Novermber 2006
My works for the Sonic 3 & Knuckles album "Project Chaos" often came in a wide variety of flavors. Not long after being done with Angel Island there came the idea for me to try and do a piano arrangement out of any of the non-standard tracks floating around. Ultimately I went with the Competition Menu music, which seemed tough enough with it being a 16-measure-long track reliable on beats, but I thought if I could aim for a laid-back jazz lounge approach towards it then it probably shouldn't be too much of a problem. The fanfare for this one was a little more undertsated, and rightfully so given its placement on the album, but for what it was it was still fun to work upon.
Fun Fact:This track went through more ridiculous ending ideas than any of my other works. So if you think that the ending felt a little abrupt, you now know why.
|Sonic the Hedgehog "Marble Relocation" (Marble Zone)
Release: October 2006
October 2006's Dwelling of Duels had a Sega theme, which was basically remixing any theme from any game originally on a Sega system. So of course, having childhood links with Sega systems you could pretty much expect to see me here. Fresh out of the collaboration with Hetcenus for Project Chaos, some of his stylistic influences ended up rubbing towards me when putting together a take on the Marble Zone theme together, heavily inspired by the Latin American artists that inspired his performances too. The track made a strong appearance, scoring a 5th place finish out of 20 entries in total - that's a DoD re-surface in style!
Fun Fact:I actually originally wasn't going to take part due to studying commitments. But with less than 2 weeks left, I received a PM on the OCRemix forums from housethegrate asking me if I'm going to jump in. To be asked by one of the DoD legends/Project Chaos crew was astounding, which prompted me to try and squeeze as much free time as I could find into forming the track, and every spare second was worth it!
|Dragon Quest VIII "The Grief Within Trodain" (These Feelings...)
Release: July 2006
During Spring 2006 I was one of a handful of people that played the living daylights out of Dragon Quest VIII, and moreso because that was the first game in the series to make an official release in European territories. The music to me at the time still felt pretty, and yet one that stuck in my mind a lot was the game's own elegy track, "These Feelings". What basically came out was a more solemn performance that made it a throwback towards some of my darker works from 2 years before, reflecting on all the hardships that one might encounter on your journey and one's struggle to surprass them. It saw the light of day in the RPGamer.com submissions archive, and looking back I feel it was one of the better performances I contributed there.
Fun Fact: Sometimes I struggle to name my own mixes; when asking OCRemix member Arek the Absolute for inspiration, he asked me where the track got played in the game. I guess he facedesked pretty hard when he found out it was a bad idea to have it "played in a dungeon" (referring to Trodain's ruins).
|Ristar "The Prodigal Star" (Ring Rink)
Release: December 2005
Let me say this right here and now - Ristar is one of the most underrated titles on the Genesis, and for a long time it had been even moreso for the actual remix community too. So that too got some strong liking from me back in December 2005, just prior to being reunited with family for the festive holiday. Planet Freon in the game itself felt both very playful AND nostalgic to me at the same time, which made it ideal to craft something based on my homecoming back then. We may not necessarily get on with each other, but us blood relatives are often there for each other when we need it, and that's something that we can't really get away from.
Fun Fact: When throwing around name ideas with various VGMix members, fellow pianist SecondChance (where the hell did he go in the end?) ultimately provided the spark for the final title by comparing the scenario to the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Goes to show how shallow I can think at times...!
|Dragon Quest IV "Tomato Rag" (In a Town)
Release: April 2005
My first ever submission for the Dwelling of Duels, and it was actually an alternate entry for the April 2005 Dragon Quest month. So what I did one day was looked through more source tracks from the fourth game and decided that I could probably do something with the town music. Ultimately I went for a ragtime rendition of it, trying to go for something ridiculously cheerful to contrast against my general style at the time. The whole thing somehow ended up being done in 2 days, and was received surprisingly well for something not officially considered for voting. Just as well that my piano subs for the DoD didn't shift back to this style for some time...!
Fun Fact: When looking up source files at the time of the theme's announcement, VGMusic.com was made difficult with its April Fools Day gag of having all the MIDI files swapped over with games on the same system on opposite ends of the alphabet. In Dragon Quest IV's case, most of the MIDIs were temporarily replaced with those from Princess Tomato in the Salad Kingdom and vice verca (hence the title inspiration).
|Sonic & Knuckles "Tomorrow's Wake" (Sky Sanctuary Zone)
Original Release: December 2004
OCRemix Version Release: March 2005
The first solo piano arrangement I ever wrote, during my freshman year at University, and it was first shared to the world in its first take back in 2004. I had a knack then for going for lesser appreciated source material, and in the case of the Sky Sanctuary Zone music, something about it felt pretty enough to warrant a reflective performance from me. The aim with it was to capture the zone in its calmer moments, make it feel as if it was more untouched as an actual zone. Though, some people I knew compared it more to the game's ending, which seemed to benefit that just as much. Eventually it made its way to the OCRemix judges panel, though it was another take that then got past the panel in due time.
Fun Fact: Full credit for the titling of the mix went to long-time friend Jenny Medlock, whom interpreted the transition from Hidden Palace to Sky Sanctuary as somewhat as a prelude to a more drastic struggle.