Reviews by Matt Smith

Member Profile

[SHOW ALL]
[SHOW C64 ONLY]
[SHOW AMIGA ONLY]
Displaying Reviews 1 - 7 out of 7
[LOGIN]

Review by Matt Smith (07/02/2017)

There's just heaps to love about this gloriously sunshiney little gem of a track. The clever and deceptively low-key opening makes the arrival of the up-tempo main body of the remix all the more delightful and surprising, the instruments used throughout the piece have a sprightly, cheerfully magical quality to them that absolutely matches the atmosphere of the original game, and the melding of the two main in-game tunes is a splendid touch that adds greatly to the fun and variety of the whole piece. Super stuff!
Technical Impression: 6
Artistic Impression: 6
Nostalgic Impression: 6
Overall: 6

Review by Matt Smith (09/07/2015)

Barry Leitch's Harlequin soundtrack remains one of my all-time favourite game OSTs ever. Every tune in that marvellous game is a treat for the ears, and anyone aiming to improve upon the original tracks has their work very much cut out for them.

This remix succeeds in absolutely every respect. Indeed, it's no exaggeration to say that it's one of my favourite pieces of music of any kind in the world ever.

Not only does it capture perfectly the electrifying mood of the original TVee Wonderland theme (somehow managing to be hair-raisingly eerie and playfully energetic at the same time), not only does it expand upon the original with exceptional verve and creativity (introducing an array of beautiful new harmonies, counter-melodies and other splendidly atmospheric flourishes), but it even manages to tell a story that fits in perfectly with the part of the game where this particular theme first turns up, via some positively spiffing sound design. The level of Harlequin that gives this track its name is one of the most original and gleefully sinister environments ever to appear in a platformer. The hero of the piece finds himself inside a gigantic, haunted television showroom where every single TV set is broken, and the player is tasked with guiding him past an array of electricity-themed enemies and traps. As such, the intro to this remix could scarcely be more perfect as we hear a television turn on by itself and start searching through the static for a clear transmission, eventually settling upon a channel where the MOD version of the tune can briefly be heard before the updated version zaps into life. (An especially pleasing touch – among the garbled snatches of other programmes we can clearly hear excerpts from the theme tunes of Gamesmaster and Bad! Influence, both of which first came to the screen in the year of Harlequin's release.) The various other crackles, sparks and fizzes that crop up throughout the rest of the track add greatly to the spookily mysterious vibe of the whole thing without ever being intrusive, and the conclusion as the static returns and the misfiring TV finally shuts itself off is the perfect coda to the whole experience.

I utterly, wholeheartedly love this remix. As you may possibly have gathered.
Technical Impression: 6
Artistic Impression: 6
Nostalgic Impression: 6
Overall: 6

Review by Matt Smith (08/06/2015)

In the early '90s, Super Twintris was one of the Amiga's most celebrated and popular public domain games. Multiple magazines praised it as the machine's finest Tetris clone by miles, it was regularly included on coverdisks and lists of PD must-haves, and every 'Miggy owner I knew had their own copy of it; in many ways, therefore, it's surprising that it's taken this long for someone to remix the charming and evocative trio of tunes that comprised the game's soundtrack. But by golly, it was worth the wait!

At once cheeringly nostalgic and splendidly original, this is a brilliant track that breathes sparkling new life into the original melodies. The distinctive atmosphere of each of the three tunes remains intact, but this ingenious medley arrangement creates a progression of mood that works to splendid effect. From the dramatic thrills of the opening sequence we progress into the mysterious exhilaration of the middle section, creating the feeling of embarking on some sort of epic, potentially hazardous futuristic adventure; then the final three minutes bring everything to an upliftingly triumphant conclusion, conjuring mental images of gorgeous sunrises and zooming jubilantly off into the stars, mission completed. In addition, the piece melds together a range of musical styles that fit the melodies perfectly, morphing seamlessly from 90s-style Jarre-esque techno into something wonderfully reminiscent of the 70s golden era of cosmic synth before finally jumping into the cheering charm of 80s electronica. It's joyful in its ever-evolving playfulness, and I'm vastly impressed with it.
Technical Impression: 6
Artistic Impression: 6
Nostalgic Impression: 6
Overall: 6

Review by Matt Smith (02/05/2015)

Back in the day, for young Amiga users like myself who lacked the funds to purchase new games on a regular basis, magazine coverdisks were a splendidly excellent thing. The disk that accompanied issue 35 of Amiga Power in February 1994 quickly became one of the most popular in my collection, for two reasons. First, it had the marvellously entertaining Tetris Pro on it; and second, it contained a demo version of a curious puzzley game with atypically beautiful music. That game was, of course, Statix, and it was booted up with great frequency just so I could listen to that lovely tune.

Fully two decades later, the prospect of getting to hear a new and souped-up version of the Statix demo music was an exciting and warmly nostalgic one – and by crikey, this remix more than does justice to the original track. It absolutely captures the distinctive essence of Mr Grefberg's composition, elegantly blending haunting soulfulness with a perkily up-tempo positivity, and then expands upon it in all manner of imaginative and delightful ways. The guitars are an immensely cool addition to proceedings, giving this arrangement a sound all its own; the augmented introduction to the piece is impressively dramatic, the harmonising throughout is electrifying, and I love the transition at the 2:15 mark; it's a pleasing little moment that says "Let's hear that again!" An assortment of glittery new background sounds and twinkling counter-melodic elements add greatly to the magical atmosphere of the piece, and the use of finger-cymbals at various key moments is a wonderfully charming touch. Terrific stuff all round.

I've since discovered, of course, that the full release of Statix neglected to include "Against Time" in its soundtrack. Thank heavens for that demo version, eh?
Technical Impression: 6
Artistic Impression: 6
Nostalgic Impression: 6
Overall: 6

Review by Matt Smith (30/01/2015)

Given the somewhat awkward circumstances surrounding its production, it’s remarkable that the Amiga version of Captain Planet turned out as well as it did. (In a nutshell: Commodore, aptly displaying the forethought and diligence that would serve them so well throughout the rest of the ‘90s, struck a deal to include the game in their Cartoon Classics A500+ pack but neglected to allow sufficient time for its development. Programmer Tony Crowther ended up having to design and code the entire thing from scratch in just one month, assisted by a lone graphic artist and Ben Daglish on drums.) It’s vastly flawed, of course, but there’s an admirable amount of creativity on display in the design of the levels and the puzzlier aspects of the gameplay, and the music is terrific throughout, with an array of energetic and catchy tunes doing much to enliven the decidedly wonky platforming.

The theme that accompanies the “Linka” level (in which you control a girl with the power of wind (erk) as she hovers around what’s alleged to be an Egyptian pyramid but in fact looks rather more like a needlessly elaborate and unusually colourful chemical waste treatment plant) is extra-specially excellent, taking the form of a thrillingly zappy and pleasingly inventive electro-pop number. This remix elevates the tune to fantastic new heights, perfectly capturing the moodily mysterious yet sparklingly quirky atmosphere of the original while introducing a multitude of delightful flourishes that make the whole thing bigger, brighter and gloriously groovier than ever. Particular highlights include the numerous new countermelodies that add greatly to the class and variety of the piece; the flawless choice of sounds, all of which accentuate the futuristic vibe of the arrangement to scintillating effect; the entirely new section towards the end which replaces the drum solo, and which feels like a far more natural progression of the track than the original composition did; and the sheer quality of the mix, which is terrifically well-balanced throughout. The inclusion of the wind effect at the beginning and end is a neatly characterful touch, too.

In summary, this is a vastly enjoyable re-imagining of a corking tune that zings with exuberant fun and funkiness and, for me, is cheeringly nostalgic. As the happy recipient of a Cartoon Classics pack during the Christmas of 1991, Captain Planet was one of the first Amiga games I ever encountered – and while it may not have been the most fun to play, it sure did have memorably marvellous music. Hurrah!
Technical Impression: 6
Artistic Impression: 6
Nostalgic Impression: 6
Overall: 6

Review by Matt Smith (11/01/2015)

A scintillatingly splendid piece of work. It has this fantastically eerie, haunting atmosphere far beyond the Amiga original, while still maintaining a thrillingly dynamic tempo – it could easily be the music from the end credits of some brilliantly spine-chilling horror movie. There are loads of smashingly shivery special touches, too – the melody that comes in from 1.58 to 2.20 sounds like a ghostly choir (with a fittingly metallic quality that suggests it could be the disembodied voices of haunted machinery), the assorted hollow clunks, hisses and clicks worked subtly into the soundscape evoke powerful mental images of being surrounded by the gears and pistons of some huge and sinister contraption, and the deliciously creepy off-kilter pianos that conclude the track are a stroke of genius; genuinely unnerving, somewhat in the vein of the famous Halloween score by John Carpenter, but with a unique flavour all their own. I absolutely adore the whole thing!
Technical Impression: 6
Artistic Impression: 6
Nostalgic Impression: 6
Overall: 6

Review by Matt Smith (09/11/2013)

Oh. My. WORD.

I've absolutely adored this tune ever since I first played Harlequin more than 20 years ago (lordy, that makes me feel old), and I've longed to hear it remixed in high-definition digital NICAM CorBlimeySound for yonks. I'd honestly given up hope that anyone might turn their talents towards it, and then suddenly this appears, and it's magnificent. It perfectly captures the simultaneously bouncy, spooky, cheerful and mysterious nature of the original composition and expands upon it in truly majestic fashion; I've given it more than a dozen listens already, and it's just as fresh, exciting and joyous every time.

This is, I can safely say, my favourite piece ever uploaded to Amiga Remix, and by golly it's in some fantastic company. An utterly wonderful piece of work, and I for one would be overjoyed if the remixer were to give his take on some of the other Harlequin tracks, or indeed any less-frequently-covered Amiga pieces. Superb!
Technical Impression: 6
Artistic Impression: 6
Nostalgic Impression: 6
Overall: 6

1