Welcome to the latest installment of Gabbin’ with Gamers where The Switch Effect is happy to welcome Mykel Linden. Mykel is a gamer, fanfiction writer, and a video game musician who remasters classic tunes, all rolled up into one! Having first heard Mykel’s amazing Legend of Zelda: A String to the Past on YouTube, we needed to learn more!
Thank you Mykel for giving us this interview. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Well, I’m a 22 (turning 23 in a month’s time) year old gamer who’s been gaming ever since I was about 3 ½, when my father was playing Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (ironic, given what you came to know my work for) and he was stuck on a dungeon (Misery Mire Palace, if I remember correctly), so he handed me the controller and he said ‘Play’. He was amazed when I not only solved the puzzle, but beat the entire dungeon faster than it took him to get through that first little bit. Ever since, gaming has been my love. Beyond gaming, I love reading novels, chatting with friends online, watching movies, candlelight dinners, and long walks on the beach…I’m kidding about those last two, but no, seriously, I love gaming more than anything else.
What was the first console and game that you owned?
The first console and game I ever owned, well, my father let me play his Super Nintendo, but it wasn’t actually mine. So, in Christmas of 1997, I finally got my own console: a Nintendo 64, along with Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart 64. Ultimately, those two video games were my very first video games, with Donkey Kong 64 and Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time coming not too long afterwards.
Do you have any fond childhood memories based around gaming?
Besides my fond memories of doing better than my father at A Link to the Past, my fondest memories come from playing a little-known video game by the Rare company called Jet Force Gemini for the Nintendo 64. I poured so many hours into that game, and thoroughly enjoyed it so much. Despite my love and nostalgia behind that game, no video game will ever be more of a favorite to me and more nostalgic than The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask. Every single location in the world of Termina holds fond childhood memories for me and to this day, I still make a point of playing the N64 version of Majora’s Mask once per year no matter what.
Your profile says you write fanfiction. Can you elaborate?
Well, despite the fact that original stories are my forte (I began writing them at 6 years of age), I do write fanfictions on the occasion. Most currently, I created a small Facebook Group to keep all of my fanfictions and original story projects in one place; I tend to bounce between projects frequently. My current fanfiction story is a Metroid-themed one, taking place 4 months after the events of Metroid: Fusion, titled Metroid: Salvation. I even created an original theme for it, which is also on my YouTube account. Outside of this Metroid story, my fanfictions are mostly anime and movie-themed with Black Butler and Sherlock Holmes being my most prominent.
Moving into your music passion, what instruments do you play?
Outside of my digital program, I used to play the clarinet. Sadly, my clarinet went missing during a move, so I no longer play any actual instruments; all of my music is done through FL Studio and the painstaking process of clicking and dragging notes out on a piano roll screen.
Even more impressive is your musical talent and the fact that you take existing works and create remastered versions. A quick look at your YouTube page shows you’ve remastered tunes for Final Fantasy 4, Super Mario RPG, Metroid Prime, The Legend of Zelda, and more? How did you first begin this hobby?
My hobby began roughly eight years ago in high school. All of the computers in a certain lab had Garageband on it, and I began fiddling around with Garageband. The teacher who used that lab had a small musical keyboard that I began to use, and slowly, learning the notes and different instruments, I was just about to start remastering. However, Grade 10 came to an end and in Grade 11, I didn’t have access to that lab anymore or in Grade 12. So, when I graduated from high school, I got my hands on FL Studio, and began working with its Piano Roll function, which brings up a screen that you can click and drag notes out on (you can also edit said notes to reverb, fade out, timing, etc). From the time I remastered my very first song, which was the Hideout Helm (Countdown) theme from Donkey Kong 64 (also available for listen on my YouTube), the rest is history. However, even though I have been remastering for so long, I only began uploading videos to YouTube about nine or so months ago.
Just recently, you finalized The Legend of Zelda: A String to the Past that is 32 remastered tracks from the classic SNES title. Tell us about this endeavor. What made you choose this game?
Considering that Zelda: A Link to the Past was the first video game I ever played and considering I have some truly fond memories of it, I always enjoyed the music to the game. As I got older, I figured out that Koji Kondo (my idol) was using MIDI string instruments to do a lot of the songs. That was what prompted the idea: ‘Hey wait a minute…what if I take my string instruments soundfonts, open up the piano roll, and start clicking and dragging to recreate every song in the game using semi-realistic string instruments?” and the project pretty much began from there.
How long have you been working on this?
I have been working quietly (quietly until the last couple of weeks before this interview) on A String to the Past for about seven months now.
Did you encounter any challenges along the way?
Every song I remastered came with its set of challenges; particularly, trying to hit certain notes with my soundfonts, because they only go up and down to a certain pitch and if the note is higher or lower than the pitch allows, the note won’t play at all. So I had to very carefully choose what string instrument would encompass all of the notes on a given staff so that all of the notes would play in synchronous harmony.
With The Legend of Zelda: A String to the Past completed, what is your next project you can tease?
Well, another part of what made A String to the Past a challenge to do in its entirety (a continuation of the above question) is that, starting about four months ago, I began working on ANOTHER project in tandem with A String to the Past. It was another complete remastering of a Zelda soundtrack and this one is a bit bigger and my favorite soundtrack in all of video gaming. Take from it as you will, but string instruments aren’t all I’m using this time. The project will be a two-part effort, entitled The Legend of Zelda: Timeless Ages, and The Legend of Zelda: Natural Seasons; a thorough remastering of Oracle of Seasons and Ages, respectively. However, in the process of doing this next project, I will still be releasing other remasters to keep listeners entertained until the grand unveiling, so to speak. I greatly treasure the music of Oracle of Seasons/Ages, and I wish to truly pull out all of the stops to make these remasters the best possible quality I can produce.
If you weren’t working on music, what would be your hobby?
Oh, that’s an easy one. I would most likely be a gamer AS a hobby. I already am, but if I couldn’t be a gamer (to which I would riot at), I would probably try to become an author, attempting to get my stories published for the world to read. A trouble many writers know: you have a fantastic idea in your head, but when you put it to paper, it becomes a jumbled mess of words.
Time to “switch” gears. We at The Switch Effect are obviously big fans of Nintendo’s new console. What are your impressions of the console?
I believe I speak for many Nintendo fans when I say ‘”It’s about time, Nintendo”. The Nintendo Switch is, I believe, the big comeback that Nintendo was trying to score with the Wii U. This time around, it’s fantastic seeing third-party developers supporting the Nintendo Switch much like was done in the days of the GameCube. I also believe the Nintendo Switch is the antidote to the reign of supremacy the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One have established. While it may not ultimately sell AS well as the PS4 and Xbox One, I believe by popular opinion, the Switch will stand proudly next to them or above, for the fact that a majority of the titles for the other two consoles are M-Rated. Younger kids will be able to get into video gaming sooner thanks to masterpieces like Super Mario Odyssey and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. So, in the end, I believe that the Nintendo Switch is quickly becoming a fundamental part of the gaming community and with even more games coming in 2018, I sincerely hope Nintendo doesn’t lose their momentum.
Which new games are you looking forward to the most?
Legend of Zelda may be my greatest love in terms of franchises, but I am also a HUGE Metroid fan…when I saw Metroid Prime 4 get announced, I just about had a mini-coronary. With Metroid: Samus Returns having released for the 3DS back in September 2017, and with Prime 4 on the way in 2018 (hopefully), I believe the Switch will become even more of a success now that Nintendo is returning to ALL of its roots. To a somewhat lesser degree, but still very much, I am also extremely excited for the as-yet unknown Pokémon game supposedly in development for the Switch. With Nintendo having announced Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon as being the last Pokémon games for Nintendo 3DS, I am very curious to see in what ways Game Freak will take advantage of the Switch’s unique features and hardware power.
Last question now that we’ve run you through the gauntlet. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I believe so, yes. The last thing I would like to share is actually what you could call a ‘mass friend request’, haha. I’m almost always on my Facebook and I’m also a completely open book, so I invite anyone who wishes to chat with me to feel free to do so. Just be sure to let me know why you’re messaging me so I know you were redirected from here to me.
Thank you again for taking the time to speak with The Switch Effect and for our readers to learn more about you and your passion. We can’t wait to see what you put out next!
I can’t wait to see what I put out next either! I have remasters I finished ages ago, but haven’t put out yet and I plan to put many of them out one by one as time goes by.
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