If that wasn't already clear, I'm a big fan of Treasure. Their will to go against the current and try new things transpires in their games, and rewards those who set foot in their universe. Not long after completing Secret Bonus Point, I naturally set my sights on yet another Treasure title. What I didn't know at the time was that one of the most prolific contributors to SBP and remixing partner-in-crime of mine, DusK, had already set in motion a plan to arrange the music from that game. So I contacted him and offered to do what I do best: hijack and totally ruin projects. xD
Gunstar Heroes for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive was the first effort of former Konami employees turned video game freedom fighters. It's a fast-paced, action-packed game with a futuristic setting, innovative weapon system, solid mechanics and satisfying gameplay. It features an extremely colorful design, full of life and bearing the trademark wackiness that would transpire from their subsequent games. Moreover, the anime-style graphics exhibit a level of expressiveness that wasn't commonplace in traditional run & gun titles of that era, giving the protagonists a wide range of emotions and making the game feel surprisingly humane... despite the fact, of course, that everything on screen wants you dead. ;D
To accompany and illustrate this neo-futuristic package, the soundtrack composed by Norio Hanzawa (a.k.a. NON) sets the tone perfectly. Exploiting every ounce of the YM2612 soundchip to deliver some FM synthesis goodness, Gunstar Heroes contains some of the most complex compositions to come out of Sega's machine, making its music surprisingly challenging, yet immensely rewarding to arrange. We wanted the album to reflect both the futuristic setting and the frantic nature of the gameplay, while staying true to the story, characters and feel of playing the game itself. Translated to the music, it means the aggressiveness would not only be about velocity, but also about design choices. Knowing when to slow things down to inspire uneasiness before suddenly throwing you in an impossibly tense situation, one that makes you feel proud to have overcome, afterwards. This is what the game was about, and what we were aiming to inspire/evoke with the album.
DusK was set on making this an official project, but from my experience, finding people to remix a lesser known game on OCR is more or less a suicide mission. Therefore, I knew the only way to make this happen was to drop all pre-conceived notions of success and go all-in, or simply put: Be Aggressive! I was moved beyond words upon witnessing the willingness of many fantastic musicians to lend their talent to such a risky endeavor (we weren't exactly trying to remix Final Fantasy here), and by their commitment to follow us, not so well-known community members, in our crazy quest to pay tribute to a memorable game constantly overshadowed by mainstream titles.
On a personal level, this project embodies two things: passion and loss. I poured my heart into everything, from organizing and recruiting personnel, giving detailed feedback and steering people in the right direction, to crafting promotional material and making sure everything ran smoothly until we reached the finish line. What I didn't (couldn't?) foresee however, was the hand of fate taking loved ones away from me, depriving me from the joy of making music and nearly putting an end to my existence. That's why there's great meaning in the fact that I'm still alive, and standing here today to witness the conclusion of this journey.
Thanks to the Almighty for giving me a fighting chance, DusK for being a badass director and awesome friend, The Coop for lending his many talents to the project, each and every ReMixer who's helped make Be Aggressive! a reality, Treasure for creating video game masterpieces, OC ReMix for crushing my ego and pushing me forward to reach my dreams, as well as all the wonderful people I've met during these four years in the VGM community.
This album is dedicated to all Gunstar Heroes and Treasure fans around the world. :)