Back in the day, a passion for video games meant a healthy interest in video games as part of a normal, balanced diet. These days, anything than less than full retard could see you harshly labeled as a newbie on some internet forums. But unlike wine or film it is hard to be a connoisseur of the whole of gaming-kind. There are so many games that humans cannot tell you how many there are any more. Thousands? Certainly. Millions? Maybe. It depends. Is every slight mod a separate game? Is every two second flash game a ‘game’? Do not seek the answer to those questions young one, to seek to answer them is to look into the void. By far the best thing to do if you want to really make it in the video game sector is to hyper focus on one tiny tiny tiny bit of gaming. Make it yours. Own it. Be the world’s biggest Midna fan. The bastards can’t take that from you.
So what does this have to do with the tetris theme tune? Well, felchpants, it just so happens that I am the fourth ranked connoisseur of tetris remixes on the whole internet, ergo the English speaking world. I aim to be number one one day and I hope to see some of you rise to the challenge in the future. In the meantime, here’s my story.
It is a given that tetris is one of the most memorable themes to a video game. Without that tune it is doubtful that the game would have been arguably the most successful game of all time. Or remembered as such at least. Certainly making huge inroads with the real people way before we were all playing imaginary bowling in our living rooms. But surely, Cunzy you say, we all turned the volume down after the first hour or so? Why listen to the Tetris theme all day every day?
Well, my porcine friend, here’s how it happened. Before everything could be googled, every gamer was an island. If you were lucky you had a peer or two who you could obsess over gaming with. But eventually he would grow up, move on or eventually sell out and be interested in things like mortgages and making savings on the gas bill. It was very much like being a mutant from X-Men before the professor turns up and gives you a cool uniform. What I really mean is that being a gamer before the internet invaded every day lives was like being a gay (or so your mom tells us). Or a furry. Or one of those people who likes being poo’d on. As a gamer in the big bad world I would ask questions like “Am I normal?”, “Is it big enough?” and the question we’ve all asked ourselves “Does it count if I didn’t know that Rikku was 14 in FFX?”. Then paradoxically, years before Final Fantasy X came out, the internet was released on PC and all of a sudden, by simply typing in a string of unsavory words you could discover that not only were there other people with the same interests as you but, by their yardstick, you weren’t a freak, you were practically vanilla.
One of the first things I did was look up some of my favourite game soundtracks and theme tunes. For someone as musically untalented as myself, it wasn’t possible to listen to the theme tune from Treasure Island Dizzy* without physically loading up the game and listening to the theme tune on the menu screen (which I did for hours). This was fine within the comfort of the home and when nobody else was using the same room but I couldn’t take that music with me. For a while I experimented with an old tape recorder and the TV speakers. But really, really quiet hissy noise piped through Walkman speakers was not enough.
Bizarrely, it turns out I wasn’t the only one who found the ending theme of Streets of Rage 2 very beautiful. Other people with more know how, willpower and passion had uploaded recordings or hacked apart games to find the music or remastered it, remixed it or even mashed it together with another song. My early days of looking up video game music on the web were taken up with hunting down as many different versions of the ice cap zone theme from Sonic 3 and songs from other Mega Drive games.
Then one day I found a tetris track. I’m not going to pretend to know which one it was or to pretend that I still have it. But something exploded in my mind. From that day on I’ve lifted every virtual stone in search of a good tetris remix. There are some truly amazing remixes out there which show a lot of love for the original Game Boy bleeps. There are a lot of awful awful versions too.
Dance, techno and trance are perhaps obviously well represented but there are some cracking alternatives. Chip tune, folk, freestyle, rap, beatbox, happy hardcore or jumpstyle. All riffing off the same source tune. I’m currently in love with a remix by Bounce Sound which interweaves the tetris theme with sex noise. DJ Triplestar has made an awesome jumpstyle remix and DaCav 5 still rock my boat with their tetris remix WITH WORDS OVER IT. That’s right.
Some tracks you can only experience in a club where the bass is so big it does funny things to your nether regions like Psychic Element’s version. Nexus takes 0 skills makes me wish I was off my tits with a hundred people in a box. Sometimes a bit of panpipes are in order a la Kgzspade. Then Nintendo come along and show how it’s done with the excellent A and B games remixes for Super Smash Brothers Brawl. Other highlights are Hollow More Inc’s tetris Overture and Eighty Eight Records freestyle tetris remix which are both excellent in their own right. McVaffe rips it up with the B game tune. That’s the tip of the iceberg and of course, somedays the original is in order.
So far, so what the point? The point is, for all the railing against the gaming community that I, others and non-gamers do, sometimes gaming inspires people to create something beautiful. Or create something at all. I don’t have the stats but I imagine gaming inspired remixes, fansites, videos, fan fics and blogs like this one take up a fair ol’ chunk of the internet. Tetris remixes are but one example of the kind of diversity of the people that are inspired by gaming.
Until next time. Keep on rocking in Midgar.
*I’ve still to find that track without messing around with emulators. Rock covers of the spectrum version, sure. ‘Funny covers’ I’ve got five. FYI. The internet ain’t all that.