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My 10 Favourite Castlevania Remixes
I originally wanted to do a "top 10 favourite" Castlevania songs hub. But that's like, way overdone, isn't it? So I modified the idea a little and came up with this. My top 10 favourite Castlevania remixes.
Yup. If you're a fan of this vampire whipping platformer, you'd know. Remixing previous tracks is a cherished tradition in Castlevania games. (How many versions of Vampire Hunter do we have?) Here are my favourite Castlevania remixes from over the years. This list includes both the ones arranged by Konami and the "indie" mixes by the many astonishing talents found on Youtube.
Simon Belmont, and his trusty Vampire Hunter
Castlevania III. I consider this the best NES Castlevania game
10. Vampire Hunter (From Castlevania ; Remixed in Dracula X Chronicles)
To be honest, I'm merely okkaayyyy with the most famous of Castlevania soundtracks. It's catchy, but ... ... And so big applause to Konami for coming up with an arrangement that I actually loved. This Castlevania remix might sound a tad too feather weight to some fans, but I appreciate the updated beat and restrained feel. It gives the impression too that the Belmonts are not just your average vampire kicking macho brutes. They are also cunning and highly resourceful.
9. Tragic Prince (Symphony of the Night ; Remixed as Pitiful Scion in Harmony of Despair)
This is the odd entry on this list. Because I actually prefer the original version.
Not that it's bad. Like most Castlevania remixes, it's modernised, electrified and all that. Just that, the original had more depth? With its quiet and atmospheric intro? On the other hand, its energetic rendition is probably to the taste of most gamers nowadays. Maybe over time Konami would do more remixes of this, like what they did for Vampire Hunter. I love to see where their creativity brings them with this classic SotN composition.
8. Beginnings (From Castlevania III ; Remixed in Perfect Selection Dracula Battle)
I bought this album in the 90s, expecting 8bit/16bit excitement, and woah!!! Metal! Heavy rock! Took me a while to get used to it, for those genres were never my kind of thing. They still aren't, but I can't deny the intensity and energy of this remix album. Perfect Selection Dracula Battle was probably the Beginnings for a whole YouTube generation of fan-arranged hard rocking Castlevania remixes too. For that, it deserves a place on this list. I also admit I do still listen to this album, whenever I need a quick perk-me-up on dreary nights.
7. Simon's Theme (From Castlevania IV ; Remixed in Harmony of Despair)
Like Vampire Hunter, I wasn't too fond of this soundtrack when I first heard it. Over the years, however, it grew on me. Be it the ominous undertones, or the use of distinctive church organ sounds.
This remix in Harmony of Despair amplifies the organ sounds. Layers them too, for a more majestic feel. It does make things a notch too heavy at parts, but the whole dark ambient feel of the composition is also magnified. Adding electric guitar riffs further injects the tune with a dash of energy, which in turn creates an interesting contrast of themes. This makes this remix arguably my favourite track from Harmony of Despair. A Castlevania game which, by the way, some state to be the last true episode.
6. Stream (From Castlevania III ; Remixed by Nelward Music)
Stream is my favourite track from Castlevania III. After Heart of Fire, it's also my favourite Castlevania song.
Which makes it unbearable that for some reason, Konami never reused Stream in any other episodes. This, in turn, results in there not being many fan remixes of Stream. Those newer to the franchise might not even know of this track.
This version I picked is very 16 bit-ish; the artiste deliberately made it so. It's not what I hope for Stream after all these years, but it's at least better than the 8-bit original. I do hope that someday, the artiste or other musicians would do a full version. Or better still, a live version. This great tune really has so much energy and promise in it. I strongly feel it deserves far more attention than what it's receiving.
5. Opus 13 (From Rondo of Blood ; Remixed by Long Box Of Chocolate)
A wee bit about myself. I play the Yamaha Electone electric organ, and a big part of our style is the rearrangement of famous songs in unexpected rhythms and feel. For that reason, any arrangement that is a bold re-interpretation of an original composition strongly appeals to me. I get a kick out of how creative some musicians could be when rearranging songs.
As for this arrangement, frankly speaking, certain parts of it feels a little too thin. Some of the original perkiness of Opus 13 is also lost, especially during the swing-y ad-lib. Still, it's a valiant effort. Something that I listen to when tired of ferocious drumbeats and riffing electric Gs. You agree it would be entertaining? Particularly on quiet nights that are not entirely ... peaceful? Hmm. It takes some getting used to, I guess.
4. Mad Forest (From Castlevania III ; Remixed in Dracula Perfect Selection Album)
Konami is my favourite game developer, and a big reason for that is because I feel they always push the boundaries with whatever they do. This Castlevania remix exemplifies that. Would you ever expect something like this for an action game soundtrack? Even when released as an independent soundtrack album
By the way, Mad Forest is one of my favourite Castlevania tracks. Strangely, also one that was never used twice. If any future Castlevania game includes it, I do hope this version finds its way in. But maybe, maybe without the MJ vocal effects ... ... That feels a little, too much.
3. Demon Seed (From Castlevania III ; Remixed in Dracula X Chronicles)
Of all entries in this list, this Castlevania remix of Demon Seed is the closest to its parent. It's merely updated with more modern sounding instruments. As much as I love outrageous and creative remixes, sometimes just improving the original does the work too. I look forward to Konami working on its newer Castlevania soundtracks too, doing the same like what it did here. For a start, they could experiment with the tracks from the newer DS games. Or maybe they could do something with the ambient soundscapes from the Lords of Shadows games. Those, in my opinion, really need some re-examination.
2. Riddle (From Castlevania III ; Remixed in Order of Ecclesia)
The original Riddle from Castlevania III caught my attention because it was one of those dark-to-light arrangements, starting off deceptively quiet before kicking in the drums. This remix, over 20 years later, abandoned that style and jumped right into the action. Typically, I wouldn't like that, but somehow this one hooked me. Hooked me big time too. Maybe it's the intensified beat. Or maybe it's just the joy of hearing Riddle again after so many years. Incidentally, this was the last Castlevania trackI got addicted to. After that, Konami went ambient with the music direction, and that was just so ... argggggg.
1. Heart of Fire (From Castlevania ; Remixed in Castlevania Midi Collection 1997)
I discovered this Castlevania remix in 2003 in an odd way. I found a fan-made Breakout-style game using Rondo of Blood graphics, with this as one of the main tracks. The game itself was ... okay, but this remix, wow. I froze the game, and left the music to loop for over an hour. I just could not get enough of it.
It's not only that Heart of Fire is my all-time favourite Castlevania track. It's also the creativity of this remix. That incessant beat, with the original verses changed to backing motifs. And the revised chorus, what a frenetic build-up! My only regret is that this was intentionally midi-ish, it would sound so much better had it not been. I'm crossing my fingers and heart that one day this gets performed live. (In Tokyo Dome?) That would really be something to listen to. Oh yes it would.
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© 2016 Kuan Leong Yong