[Endless Playlist is a series of monthly articles where we pick a video game soundtrack for discussion, try to provide a critical analysis of how it performs within the game it’s from, and decide how it holds up on its own. This month, we’re breaking down Lo-fi 1UP, a lo-fi VGM remix album by Pokerus Project.]
So, here’s a fun fact for you. Lo-fi music, originally spelled “low-fi” according to Wikipedia, was a term used to refer to low fidelity music. As compared to high fidelity music, lo-fi tunes had noticeably audible imperfections. Over the years, the term “lo-fi” has adopted a different meaning altogether. These days, it’s more of an aesthetic and a synonym for mellow, chill music. And it’s a pretty sweet genre. Quick searches on YouTube will yield high view counts for videos and streams for this specific type of music.
Chilean musician Pokerus Project knows this too, which is why he decided to produce an album full of iconic video game musical themes remixed with a lo-fi skin. From The Legend of Zelda to Pokemon and Ace Attorney, Lo-fi 1UP is a true gem of an album, and it’s best used as background music for your work and study sessions.
Pokerus Project kicks things off with a remix of the main theme from Ocarina of Time, titled A Lot of Things. Just as you’d expect from your typical lo-fi music, A Lot of Things is layered on with beautiful acoustic reverb and just the right amount of distortion and monotonous dialogue.
The true highlight, however, has got to be the fantastic remix of Godot’s Theme from Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations. Anyone familiar with Capcom’s attorney series will be quick to agree with me that Godot is one of the game’s best characters. He takes on the role of a fallen servant of the law, who’s made a return to see justice dispensed and ensure that the truth is revealed. Godot is fantastic, and what better way to remix his theme than by incorporating dialogue from Better Call Saul, one of the best lawyer dramas on television right now?
Cafe Oscuro Sin Stevia starts off as a fairly straightforward 1:1 remix of Godot’s Theme. The drums and bass line serve as a nice, chill backdrop for the track as the guitar launches into the familiar melody we all know and love. There are no surprises in the track; that is, until you reach the halfway mark.
For folks who don’t follow Better Call Saul (and you should, as it’s a fantastic show), the dialogue used in this track were taken from one of the key episodes of season 3. In this scene, we witness the complete meltdown of one of the best lawyers in Albuquerque as he gets baited into a rant while on trial. While his circumstances in Better Call Saul aren’t exactly comparable to Godot’s role in Ace Attorney, both were respected attorneys who have fallen from grace.
The lines are beautifully distorted, further adding to the track’s lo-fi vibe, and Michael McKean’s own passionate delivery serves as a nice contrast to the lazy guitars playing over him. I never thought I’d appreciate the addition of the line, “He defecated through a sun roof!” in a Godot remix, but here we are. It’s a lovely little touch that completes the track, and helps to elevate it above the rest.
The rest of the album doesn’t really come close to Cafe Oscuro’s brilliance in my view, but they’re certainly no slouches either.
Undertale’s main theme, for instance, is exactly the kind of track that lends itself well to a lo-fi facelift. Again, this is largely a 1:1 rendition of the original track, but Pokerus Project amps it up a little right from the get-go with some percussion. I’m not completely sold on the distorted dialogue added in the middle of the track though, largely because Undertale is already such a strong melody on its own, and the track would’ve been fine with just the barebones lo-fi treatment.
The track’s iconic phrases are all still intact, with a bit more emphasis on the xylophone perhaps —an apt choice for a genre remix that focuses on calm and consistent rhythms.
It’s truly a testament to Pokerus Project’s capabilities, as even the tracks I’m not entirely familiar with are able to make such an impression. I’ve never played Twilight Princess myself, yet his remix of Ilia’s Theme is easily one of my favorite tracks to put on while I’m writing.
Credit to the original music as well, of course, as it’s an incredibly uplifting melody, but the lo-fi percussion certainly helped to give it a bit more pizazz. I’d never touch Donkey Kong Country with a 10-foot pole, but similarly to Ilia’s Theme, this Aquatic Ambience remix is hypnotizing and entrancing in a way I’d never expect from a Donkey Kong soundtrack of all things.
At the end of the day, though, it’s the lo-fi remix itself that’s managed to breathe new life into these classic video game music tracks. As I mentioned before, the original Ilia’s Theme is simple and lovely, but just the small addition of a distorted bass line and percussion refreshes it entirely for a modern audience. Lo-fi is a captivating genre on its own, but it’s even better when you mesh it with video game music. Who’d have thought?
Pokerus Project’s Lo-fi 1UP album can be bought off Bandcamp for $7, or streamed via Spotify.