* This is an official 2017 NGUAC review *
Overall, a fun time and cool atmosphere. On to specifics...
Mixing, mastering and production: My main issues with the production are tied to the fact that nearly every instrument sound very obviously virtual, sounds very obviously like a preset. When I'm listening to everything, I want to be getting into the music but it instead feels like a showcase for a vst. This is not necessarily tied to the quality of the vst (although purchasing more high end vsts would certainly help), it's an issue of mixing. The solution here is carefully EQing, reverbing, panning, and volume balancing every instrument. At the end of the day you want the instruments to sound like they're yours - not a preset. Presets are great for inspiration, but they tend to stick out if you leave them in a final mix.
Some of the reverbing and delay works well here! But for me it was hard to get over the 'storefront window' feel of the instruments.
Composition: Decently solid all around, no huge weaknesses here. I'm just going to go through with a bunch of little tips.
Everything had a really fun bounce - thanks to the rhythm section of bass and drums for that one. Great use of toms to help achieve that.
The ending felt a little sudden and not particularly well thought out. You said that you originally wrote it as a loop. I can't speak for the other judges, but I think you could've left it as a loop! If that's what the track was built for, then it would probably sound better that way. You nailed the video game loop feel, so I say embrace it.
I think a little more variety in the structure and feel would have been nice. It would be tricky to balance it with the feeling of a loop, but if pulled off it would really enhanced the track.
Your melodies here fit the style and the piece well, and you kept the melodic instruments varied. Good use of the bass to make countermelodies. Actually, listening to this again now, I probably could've given you a bit of a higher melody score :p
The instrumentation, while varied, was almost...too outlandish. Your instrumentation sort of tried to reach for the stars, I feel like. Marimba, bass guitar, synth leads, strings - it's a mix of instruments that would never normally play together in real life. It was hard for me to place what the feel of the song should be. It's worth asking yourself, before you pick an instrument to add, "why am I adding this particular instrument? How does it fit with the rest of the group?" I had the feeling of you picking a bunch of instruments that sounded good individually, without necessarily considering how they work together as a group. As a group, I felt like it was a bit disjointed, like if I grabbed 10 random musicians and stuck them in a room together. If you're going to go more natural, like with bass guitar and a drum kit, then go for it. If you're going to go synthy, with a virtual kit, organ and synth leads, then go for it. But it felt like you were in a weird in-between place where I couldn't emotionally commit, if that makes sense.
Fun ideas though! Keep it up and keep having fun.