Visualized and Interactive : Over 20 years of revisited video games music thanks to OverClocked Remix

OcRemix.org over the years : an interactive data visualisation and exploration

For over 20 years, the OverClocked Remix community and website has been offering today’s and yesterday’s gamers to revisit the music of their favorite video games, be it a cover, a remix, or a rearrangement­­ – for free. How many times The Legend of Zelda was put into jazz? Sonic The Hedgehog into dubstep? Mega Man into funk? Undertale into prog rock?

The website ocremix.org, where you can find thousands of tracks and over a hundred albums, has been up since 1999. OcRemix is largely credited as responsible for popularizing video game music (VGM) and the art of revisiting it in different ways and music genres.

Speaking of which, I came to wonder which music genres have been the most important one on OcRemix, the trends over those two decades, and look up these trends for specific titles or franchises.

Thanks to web scraping, I was able to get the data to visualize just that. Most individually-posted tracks have information tags attached to them, like the music genre(s), the instrument(s) used, and the mood/feel (more on the methodology below).

In the chart below, each dot is a remix/rearrangement/cover. The graph is sorted so the music genres that adapted the most video games scores are on the top.

If you didn’t know VGM was a thing, you can read this piece I wrote.

So, which music genres were the most popular ones among the OcRemix musicians and producers?

OverClocked Remix over the years: which music genres have been most popular among its musicians and producers?

From the data we’ve got here (2 769 tracks and 61 music genres), it seems that rock isn’t dead, or else it’s dying very slowly. As of July 31st, 2021, most tracks were rock music adaptations (628). That’s nearly twice the second most used music genre, EDM (328), itself being trailed by jazz and cinematic adaptations (319 and 289).

You can see, though, that there is a lot of variety. We can find metal, hip-hop, pop, folk, trance, industrial, drum and bass, synthwave, and many other kinds of popular music.

That’s cool bro, but… can I see the games and hear the music behind those dots?

Yes, you can. In the interactive tool below, you can explore the tracks by franchise or the title of a game, by typing it yourself. In the little white textbox, you can type in “Zelda”, “Super Mario”, “Kirby”, “Final Fantasy”, “Undertale”, “Shovel Knight”, “Sonic”, “Streets of Rage”, “Chrono Trigger”, “Bubble Bobble”, or anything else that comes to mind.

Of course, one can also search for more recent titles and franchises, but they tend to have fewer remixes on OcRemix. This makes sense, as they have had less time to grow in popularity be the object of series and sequels. VGM remixing/rearranging is very much nostalgia-driven.

Still, you can find covers of Undertale, Stardew Valley, Elder Scrolls, Shovel Knight, Dark Souls, Halo, Animal Crossing, Mass Effect, The Witcher, and others.

Additionally, below the resulting chart, you will find a responsive table with all the results with the tracks information, like the artist, the game, the music genre(s), and the URL so you can listen to them!

Alternatively, if you just want to explore all of them simultaneously, click on the tab named “Look at all of them” just right of “Search for a game or franchise“.

This interactive too below works best on large screens. I recommend using the tool full page by clicking right here.

Apparently, The Legend of Zelda was most often revisited as jazz music. Same thing for Chrono Trigger.

For Super Mario, it’s… EDM ! That is also the case for Tetris.

Sonic The Hedgehog rearrangers have been more into rock music. Like those of Final Fantasy, Pokemon, and Mega Man.

VGM covers aren’t done only on ocremix.org. Since then, we have seen actual VGM labels pop up, like GameChops, Pixel Mixers, and Materia Collective. The former also has a formal label, OverClocked Records.

Methodology : a few caveats

Unfortunately, not all tracks that were ever accepted and made available somewhere by OverClocked Remix are part of the two visualizations above. The jury and site administrators only have so many tracks to deal with, they were not all promoted individually on a webpage.

That is because OverCloked Remix has also produced full albums, sometimes with dozens of tracks. You can check them out here. My personal favorite is probably Balance and Ruin, a massive multi-genre tribute to Final Fantasy VI.

But even when one track has its individual webpage (like this one), it may not have a genre tag, in which case I excluded it from the data above.

As of July 31st, 2021, out of 4 056 tracks, some 2 769 of them did have at least one music genre tag (68 %). It seems that most untagged tracks are found between 2002 and 2004 (this is why there appears to be some gap in the first data visualization above around those years).

Everything was done in R (RStudio) with the {tidyverse}, {plotly} and {shiny} packages, among others.

You can find my code and scripts here.

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