NINJA GAIDEN: THE DEFINITIVE SOUNDTRACK VOL. 1 + 2

The full Ninja Gaiden classic soundtrack on digital, CD and vinyl

Ninja Gaiden, one of the most iconic and beloved 2D action game series ever created, was released in the arcades in 1988, while making its console debut on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) later in the same year. Ninja Gaiden was renowned not only for its deep storytelling, but also for its legendary chiptune soundtrack, whose unique rock-’n’-roll sound and drum beat instantly became a formative musical experience for players who were only just getting into video games.

Ninja Gaiden Vol. 1 features the music of both the NES title and the Arcade game. The follow-up, Ninja Gaiden Vol. 2, features the music of both Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos and Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom. These legendary soundtracks have been digitally restored under the supervision of Keiji Yamagishi, one of the original series composers. The booklet includes a comprehensive roundtable discussion among several members of the original development team; an essay by game historian Ray Barnholt; and original archival artworks.

Responsibilities

I acted as Recording, Mixing, and Restoration Engineer on this release. For the first time ever I recorded the NES versions of the Ninja Gaiden games digitally from original (but modified) hardware, in a process that resulted in no audible noise or artifacts. The NES soundtracks were additionally recorded from a vintage Famicom's noisy, buzzy analog output. The resulting audio profile was then used on the digital recordings to gently match the frequency response of the original vintage hardware. The result was an audio signal with the crisp, pristine sound of a digital, artifact free recording that nevertheless sounded exactly like any fan would remember it.

The arcade release of Ninja Gaiden was recorded digitally as a set of separate audio streams. I mixed these using reference recordings, cleaned up the audio signal (clicks, distortion, noise...), then meticulously corrected the arcade board's inherent audio lag  and sample offsets between the different audio streams. For the first time ever this soundtrack was heard as the composer intended, without the lag causing unpleasant, smeared transients particularly on percussive audio samples.

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