OC Remix Interview (Part 4) – Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix

In our final part of our OC Remix Interview, we talk to Larry & djpretzel about their work on the upcoming game – Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix.

1. How did you get involved in the project?
In addition to the individual mixes we post, we also do albums, and awhile back we did an album of mixes from Super Street Fighter II Turbo called Blood on the Asphalt (http://sf2.ocremix.org). Capcom found it and decided that it’d work great for HD Remix, and contacted Shael Riley, one of the directors on that album, who in turn contacted me.  At first we thought it might be someone pulling our chain, but everything checked out, and we started mapping out what we needed to do to make things work.

2. Was it a case of you two doing the music? Or did the OC ReMix community chip in with tunes?
djpretzel: It was a community effort, all the way. Many of the tracks were pre-existing, from Blood on the Asphalt, so right from the start there were many different artists that we contacted about the project. We also involved new artists for new tracks where needed; it wasn’t a purely democratic process because we needed to stay on schedule and we also wanted to keep things as quiet as possible to avoid politics/drama, but we tried to involve a lot of folks, and the end result is something that incorporates a lot of different musical styles/approaches. Larry’s a judge on OCR, and for this project his role was more assisting me with coordinating everything and making sure it all went smoothly. I myself only did one track, E. Honda’s stage – all the rest came from ReMixers.

3. How much creative freedom did you have? The tunes are pretty iconic, so I can’t imagine you would’ve changed them much.
djpretzel:We didn’t do anything too outlandish – we definitely wanted to keep the tunes recognizable to the average listener, since as you say they’re very iconic and memorable. Compared to the typical OC ReMix, there’s less original material thrown in, and it’s more about taking the source material and applying a given genre to it. Vega hip-hop, Ken rock, Zangief garage band, etc. That being said, Capcom were pretty open to our ideas, and when they came back with things they wanted changed, it tended to be more specific and related directly to how the track worked in-game. The biggest restriction was that the stage tunes had to be two minutes long, with loop points and a five-second fadeout at the end.  That meant cutting out some great stuff from the Asphalt mixes that already existed, but ultimately it resulted in material that makes more sense for actual gameplay BGM.

Larry Oji: “Freedom with boundaries” would summarize it well. Like Dave said, the ReMixers did have to work within Capcom’s specifications. But listening to the end results, Capcom was very flexible and our guys had a lot of room to weave their own ideas into the tracks. The best examples I can think of offhand are with Dhalsim’s Stage, “Reaching for Nirudha” by Malcos (a.k.a. Stephen Malcolm Howell), and T. Hawk’s stage, “New Mexican Thunderbird” by Vurez (a.k.a. Don Muritz). The new ideas integrated into those themes were seamless, and I think a lot of fans are going to enjoy them!

4. Did you send what you believe was the best tune for each stage, or did you send a selection of remixes for the development team to vote for their favourite?
djpretzel: A mix of both… in some cases, we only had one pre-existing version of a given tune, but when we had multiple versions, we let Capcom decide which worked best for them. When developing new material from scratch, there were a couple tracks where different artists were working simultaneously on different versions of the same tune, and again, we sent in both and let Capcom decide.  I think one advantage for Capcom – or any other developer/publisher – in working with a community like OC ReMix, is that it’s much easier to get distinct versions of a track and be able to decide which approach is preferable, since there are so many talented artists in the community, each with their own style.

5. Were there any remixes the developers didn’t like, and had to be redone? What was the one track that was the most troublesome?
djpretzel: The track that was most troublesome was probably my own! I was so busy coordinating the whole project, maintaining spreadsheets, and emailing artists for updates, that I barely had time to work on my own track. When I finally finished a pretty aggressive techno arrangement and sent it in, Capcom decided it wasn’t really appropriate since E. Honda’s stage is a pretty laid back Japanese bath house, and my mix sounded more like a rave.  I had to go back to the drawing board and put together a mellower take, which incorporated more traditional Japanese instrumentation (taiko, koto, shamisen, & shakuhachi), which was stressful since the deadline was much closer at that point. I got it done fairly quickly, though, and the finished track was approved by Capcom and does in the end seem more appropriate to the context.

6. Have you played much Street Fighter?

Larry Oji: You know it! Ever since Street Fighter II was out in the arcade, I’ve played the series. A local clothing store in Hamden, CT had the cabinet, so I was able to hang around that while my mom shopped. From then on, I had all the SNES versions, played Street Fighter Alpha on the Saturn (which had an amazing remixed soundtrack by Alph Lyla), and then enjoyed Street Fighter Alpha 3, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, Capcom vs. SNK,Street Fighter III: Third Strike and Capcom vs. SNK 2 on the Dreamcast. The quality of the Dreamcast game soundtracks pushed me over the top into loving game music beyond a casual interest years before I discovered OCR, so it’s been an honor to give back to Capcom and the Street Fighter franchise.

7. Have you played much of the game?
I’ve played the beta, which is fairly limited – you can only play as Ken or Ryu and only select Ryu’s stage for the level, so I could only see how that particular mix, done by Malcos, sounded in-game.  Graphics looked awesome, the title screen was especially slick, but there were a few issues with menus/online play the folks at Capcom and Backbone have been hard at work addressing.

Larry Oji: I haven’t sampled a drop of it. [laughs] My last system was the Dreamcast, so I still have to get my fix Street Fighter Alpha 3. No complaints there though! I don’t mind, as I’m a patient man. So far, only the open beta was released, so we still have a little time before the full game drops. Once that happens though, I’ll be trying to figure out a way to play!

8. If you could remix the music of any other game, which game would it be and why?
djpretzel: I’d like to see Sega get in on the remake action with HD updates for Revenge of Shinobi or any of the Phantasy Star games – great music in a variety of styles that often gets overshadowed by Nintendo/Squaresoft fans!

Larry Oji: Assuming you mean on a professional level like with HD RemixCastlevania would be my top pick. It’s got themes built for rock and for orchestra. I think we could come up with some unique takes on the material despite the fact that arrangers have done those genres for themes for years now. I’ve said before that I’d love to see us create an original soundtrack for something with quirky gameplay such as the PixelJunk series or Katamari Damacy. The soundtrack itself for Katamari Damacy was also strong, so I’d like to see what variations our guys would come up with remixing the main theme. If you’ve heard the many variations of that theme throughout the franchise, it’s got the same flexibility and memorability as Nobuo Uematsu‘s Chocobo theme from the Final Fantasy series.

9. Finally, any future works in the pipeline?
Larry Oji: As far as professional work goes, give us anything and we’ve got the people needed to knock it out of the park. I’m looking forward to the next challenge for our community.

djpretzel: I’m trying to create OC ReMix’s first country-western mix… with vocals!  We’ll see how that goes, but either way, it’s all about trying new things, expanding your horizons, and getting the word out about VGM!

Thanks for both Larry & DJ Pretzel for taking time out to answer these questions. Super Street Fighter II Turbo HD Remix is due out on X Box Live later this month.

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