The Scene

by Craig Grannell (18/09/02)

So, there Gordo and I were discussing the articles in Zzap!64 #107 and the general progress of the Issue when I realised that I'd totally cocked up the word counts for each page by using a font that was exactly half a point too big. Ah, the joys of print design. Frantic additions ensued to unedited articles, but Paul Glancey had already submitted a finished, subbed version of Chris Abbott's audio piece. The thing is, he'd lost his first edit due to a particularly bad hard-drive crash and kicked his PC, desk and chair out of the window, so we decided not to ask for a re-edited longer version, lest he come to our respective houses and kick us out of the window, too.

I enlarged the accompanying images of and the Back in Time 3 cover as much as I could prior to them looking a bit suspicious, and yet we still had an entire blank column; the solution: being a bit of a C64 remix aficionado, I'd list the top ten C64 remixes ever, with a more-than-slight bias towards my own rather eclectic tastes.

As readers of that now infamous magazine know, due to space restrictions, the final choice got chopped to six in the ensuing mayhem: Kent Wallden's Way of the Exploding Fist [3], Slow Poison's Arkanoid, Reyn Ouwehand's Flip the Flop, Thomas Detert's Green Beret Loader, Makke's Hell on Earth Spells Game Over, and finally, Chris Abbott's excellent remix of the in-game theme from Delta.

Those that failed to make the cut were The Dead Guys' Judge Dredd, Feekzoid's Analogue Ninja, Schema X's Lightforce remix, and o2's Zoids.

Interestingly, four of the top six were actually to be found on CDs (or betas of forthcoming CDs) rather than as freely downloadable MP3s. This was actually quite a surprise, as although there were relatively few C64 remix CDs back then, most of the best mixes seemed to be coming from the Web. Times have changed since then, and although the scene has grown rather more genre-defined, there's no doubting the quality of the vast majority of CD-released material. There's also a lot more of it, too. In fact, being a completist these days is probably only a viable option for the 'fat of wallet' although the chances of finding a CD whose entire contents suits you, rather than just a few tracks, are now much greater.

However, I wondered if that same 'raising of the bar' was true of the Web-based remixes. Perhaps the magic was beginning to wear off due to the deluge of mixes now available, but it seemed fewer and fewer were exciting me in the same way as when I first heard an MP3 of Ace II online, or later, The Dead Guys' bizarre interpretation of Judge Dredd.

I summoned iTunes and spent an hour or so compiling another top ten from the hundreds of C64 remixes that have taken up permanent residence on my hard drive. The list was split half and half between CD tracks and R:K:O remixes, and five were released within the last year or so.

From this I managed to surmise the following things: the C64 remix scene is alive and well, often continuing to excel in terms of quality; Jan's 'quality filter' over at R:K:O has proved to be a good idea, as mediocre remixes were dulling my senses to the range of excellent freely available material; and finally, I realised that the diversification from straight covers to more varied takes on C64 classics rendered my top ten pointless with regards to printing on Remix 64, due to the inherently personal nature of it all.

Oh well. Live and learn.

Craig Grannell