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Cave Story WiiWare: Reconstructed and Refined

Jul 3, 2019 at 1:56 AM
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#1
So a while ago, I got the midi and soundfont files from Morusque for the WiiWare soundtrack. I didn't think much of them at the time, I had no experience editing midi files and the soundfont file was incompatible with all modern programs anyways.

A month ago, however, I made a groundbreaking yet embarrassingly simple discovery:
I could save each track as a separate sound file.

This allows me total control not only over the volume of every instrument, revealing ones that were silent and allowing me to practice perfectly balancing them, but it also gave me the freedom to make very precise edits of the "quirks" that were baked into each song, such as voices that randomly got louder for a few seconds. I've also added reverb in choice places to aid the ambiance and mask the unpleasant square instruments.

I cannot over-exaggerate how much I've managed to perfect every song, from their melodies to their beats and even their overall sound quality. I'm even attempting to get in contact with Nicalis in the hopes that they could adopt it as the fixed version.

I hope you get a chance to give it a listen, and provide me with your thoughts and feedback.

Thank you.
 
Jul 3, 2019 at 2:36 AM
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#2
These are pretty cool, It sounds kind of better than the actual cs+ soundtrack.
Keep at it!
 
Jul 3, 2019 at 2:53 AM
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#3
Thank you!

By the way, a few songs that really have a noticeable difference are On to Bushlands, Safety, Geothermal, Last Battle, and the item jingles.
 
Jul 3, 2019 at 7:48 AM
Tommy Thunder
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#4
Very nice work. It has been a while since I listened to your previous go at this, but this time around everything does feel a bit more balanced and higher quality in general. Being able to modify the original MIDIs definitely aids in that feel, I think.

If I had to nitpick a bit, I do feel like the reverb can be a little too noticeable at times. The beginning of Safety sounds a bit too echo-y, for example. It's far from a big deal, though, and I think the proper volume balancing between tracks more than makes up for any nitpicks I have. Being able to hear all of the details properly is great. I remember how the main melody carried over from the org version of the "Get Heart Tank!" theme was nearly silent in the Wiiware soundtrack, but this version totally corrects that.

Thanks for pouring so much time into trying to get this soundtrack to sound as good as it possibly can. It would be crazy if Nicalis added your version to any future releases of the game! :o Let us know if you hear back from them.
 
Jul 3, 2019 at 11:49 AM
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#5
I do feel like the reverb can be a little too noticeable at times.
I agree, there were a few times where I didn't really want to apply reverb but the quality suffered too much without it, such as the intro for Mimiga Town.

I remember how the main melody carried over from the org version of the "Get Heart Tank!" theme was nearly silent in the Wiiware soundtrack, but this version totally corrects that.
There's quite a few examples of instruments that were inaudible before, you might end up surprised as I was.

Thanks a ton!


Also just a reminder: I created ogg files so you can update the music in Cave Story+.
 
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Jul 4, 2019 at 1:37 PM
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#6
I truly do believe a bad arrangement can completely ruin a good piece, so let's see if any of these are better with a re-mix.

It seems like some/all of these tracks had slight introductions that were all cut off in their game variants?
Well, one of my big problems with the original mix is that it's very hard to get an immediate idea of where the pulse lies in the track. All of them have very weird/weak percussion that doesn't tend to emphasise what beat is what, and tends to leave me feeling very lost even as key tracks are introduced. The first thing every track in Cave Story's original soundtrack pretty effectively nails is establishing what the tempo is.
Access: I feel like the reverb on the little beeps is a little too heavy at the start. Besides that, I think I never really gave this track a chance before. It was actually okay already.
Viviparity: That weird tom-tom thing is way too prominent here. I think I prefer the original solely based on that fact. But both are flawed in that the drums misrepresent where the beat is, meaning that when the first instrument comes in it sounds like it's out of time with the drums. Besides that, the track's less prominent instruments are actually present this time.
Mimiga Village: This one still sounds okay, but I dismissed the original because it completely omits the latter half of the track, and this is just a mix so it doesn't fix that blatant fault.
Plant: Having that bass louder certainly helps.
Ginsuk--eerr--Balrog's Theme: WOW. You actually made this one sound good. The bass is finally more prominent than that weird semi-percussive thing in the first half. And the unbearable whine from the latter half seems to be completely gone.
Gravity: This one still has a really horrible high-pitched whine at the start. But other than that it's an overall improvement. The bass has a little more much-needed presence, but like before the best part of this one is the part that's exactly the same as the original: the melody. Listening to this one again did make me appreciate some of the things done with the drums though.
Cemetery: I prefer the first 8 seconds of the original more because of the slight delay, and the absence of any reverb, allowing for some contrast when the other instruments come in. After that there's a lot of overloading in your version for some reason... I prefer the stronger bass, and the prominence of that run at 0:31 (why nerf such a nice run, Morusque!), but all in all other aspects I really do prefer the original. The original in this case isn't that bad anyway.
Safety: As with Ginsuke, turning up the bass here is one of the biggest improvements. Other than that, I'm not much of a fan of this one because to my mind, Safety is this very unmoving piece. I.e. it feels like nothing is happening and everyone's just resting and talking to one-another, which is all that happens in the areas that play the track. Both versions of the remix just add too much drama and complicated sentiment. Ignoring Safety's context in the game, the arranged remix sounds pretty awesome.
Mischievous Robot: Okay, the only track from the original remix that I actually wholly enjoy. Having the intro is awesome. I'd advise reducing the reverb a little on those weird panned beep things. Other than that, this is a slight improvement to an already awesome track. They really have a push that suits the Egg Corridor.
Pulse: The toned down bass at the start works much better than the original mix. I really do not like the instrument choice for this one, it's trying too hard to be emotional. The original track really just feels like hearing bad news from a doctor: it feels like you're learning about something that really sucks. It's very simple and very effective. The remix feels almost like a cliché'd moment from a romantic drama. I don't think any mixing could really fix that.
Onto Weed Village: Well, it's pretty-much the same. It's slightly enhanced overall, but the jarring weird-ass percussion at 0:24 is still there, so... both versions were sorta okay.
Eyes of Flame: Again, needed the bass turned up like this. Original was meh, this one is slightly less meh. The echo effect at 0:47 is totally ruined in the remix, but you could compensate with an actual echo audio effect.
Meltdown 2: Wow... this is terrible. I forgot how bad this remix was. The original came off as really weird and really empty, and this one is just really bad. Not sure if I prefer the shitty instruments to be inaudible not. Obviously the bass is improved, but other that I really don't like some of the instrument choices like the synth-strings. Overall, this mix unfortunately emphasises all of the numerous weak-points of this one.
Tyrant: Is mixing going to fix the fact that this remix is just 4 bars of the original? No. Is this one still shit? Yes. Seriously, why cut out all of the buildup from the intro, and then get rid of the second half of the melody? Way to ruin a perfectly adequate track. So yeah, no mix is gonna fix this.
Run!: Really nasty whine at the start. I think there are some overtones from that high instrument that you should put a lowpass filter on. The rest of this is definitely much better than the original. I'd say it's gone from "okay" to "good".
Jenka 1: That clicking is a bit too loud. It's quite painful to listen to. I'd also turn down the reverb on the melody before 0:26. Also I'd say this remix adds way too much drama to 0:39. It's too loud by comparison to the rest.
Jenka 2: I really don't like the intro for this track. It's a shame, I'd say it dampens an otherwise nice remix. The bit at 0:48 is just very empty though. Don't know if that's really a fault of the mix. Also the bass slide at 0:21 is a bit too goofy. I think it could work if it wasn't as prominent.
Labyrinth Fight: Never heard this one before, actually... except in that Nintendo Direct video. It's actually quite okay. The third note in the ... "thing" at 0:16 is way too loud in both versions. The drum choices are appalling. I wish they'd actually remixed the entire track though, because this one had some promise. Other than that, the mixing differences just made it sound a lot louder overall to me. No notable differences.
Geothermal: I do like the slow build of this track. The reverb was definitely needed here. Then... hm. Well, I like the original better. The mix is better than the original mix, though.
Oppression: Another great track ruined by terrible drums. No helping that here. The original was meh, this one's ... slightly less meh.
Living Waterway: Never heard this one before. Terrible drums again. The original mix isn't Living Waterway in any respect. The mix makes present some of Living Waterway's lines, but they're still buried among ... whatever ... this ... is.
Quiet: %70 improvement. Goes from "sorta lame" to "quite effective". Would still be nice if the original mix hadn't shorted the snot out of it though.
Scorching Back: Overall improvement. Nothing massive or specially notable.
Wayback Machi--err Way Back Home: Can't be fixed by mixing. The original mix just kills the tone of the original track. It utterly dampens the message of the original, which is kinda like "YOU FOCKIN' DID IT MAN!", and then they all lived happily ever after. The remix is just vaguely cheerful. :/
Toroko's Theme: This one's pretty hard to fuck up. Both versions are fine. That one note that gets cut off sorta ruins it. The melody line could have more release. This version is moderately better than the original mix.
Got Item!: Identical?
Victory: Ditto?
Get Heart Tank: Better.
Game Over: Needs a LP filter too. But the reverb works.
Unused track: Bit of a cliche'd remix of the Cave Story theme, but it works. Never heard the original.
A bunch of the other tracks (cough all of the other tracks) could really use a treatment like this.
Overall, a massive improvement, but nothing groundbreaking.
I'm very interested, where did you find the MIDI files for this? I've always felt that these remixes had potential, but were awfully arranged, and I don't think that any combination of the pre-existing tracks would help. I'd love to have a shot at actually changing the instruments to be more fitting. (and y'know... un-shortening them)
 
Jul 4, 2019 at 3:27 PM
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#7
There are four things I'd like to mention:

First off, the way Jenka 1 loops adds the final sound effect to the intro, almost giving it a sound effect from opening a door.

They really have a push that suits the Egg Corridor.
It really points you in the right direction (or left, when appropriate)

The original track really just feels like hearing bad news from a doctor
I feel like the new one also brings across the sense of bittersweet emotions you feel from seeing Curly lying on that bed, and possibly even loss.


But infamous webcomic references aside, I appreciate that you gave it a comprehensive look and told me what you thought.

Granted, there was bound to be takes that were hard for me to swallow; given that I absolutely love this version's Bushlands, Meltdown, Safety, and Jenka 1; but it's nice finally being able to hear from someone who's put as much thought into it as I have. I'll be sure to try tweaking it according to your feedback.

Here's the midi files and soundfont. I don't know if you care about the soundfont but in case you do, I should mention that I could only get it to work in Synthfont.

And finally I did in fact try working with different instruments, I made this simple orchestrated piece with free resources and a tiny bit of tweaking. Granted, it's even more of what you didn't like about that version but what's a guy to do :p
 
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Jul 8, 2019 at 7:19 AM
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#8
Granted, there was bound to be takes that were hard for me to swallow; given that I absolutely love this version's Bushlands, Meltdown, Safety, and Jenka 1; but it's nice finally being able to hear from someone who's put as much thought into it as I have. I'll be sure to try tweaking it according to your feedback.

Here's the midi files and soundfont. I don't know if you care about the soundfont but in case you do, I should mention that I could only get it to work in Synthfont.

And finally I did in fact try working with different instruments, I made this simple orchestrated piece with free resources and a tiny bit of tweaking. Granted, it's even more of what you didn't like about that version but what's a guy to do :p
I mean hey, if you like the original versions of those tracks too, more power to you.

Thank you for providing a link there. I'll see if I can make something interesting with at least one of these...

I did see a little bit of that, but I think this version of the soundtrack would probably sound best to me with some synths.

Lastly I'm glad you took my criticism so well, and I hope you at the very least had a lot fun making these. Only time and your own ear will be able to tell you whether you think they're good in time, but for now I think you did well on everything here.
 
Jul 8, 2019 at 10:17 AM
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#9
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