By George Art Baker
Retro video games and their soundtracks are seeing something of a revival at the moment, with thriving podcasts and YouTube channels on the subject illustrating that there’s a vibrant community of fans dedicated to these classics.
Such fans are now understandably excited by the news that Ninja Gaiden: The Definitive Soundtrack has just been released on CD, brightly-coloured vinyl and as a digital download.
The arcade version of Koei Tecmo’s Ninja Gaiden was originally released in 1988. It soon made its way to the Nintendo Entertainment System and has enjoyed a loyal, international following ever since.
One of its most dedicated fans is Mohammed Taher, the director of Brave Wave Productions. His kindness and enthusiasm for game music have enabled him to bring together some of Japan’s most legendary composers and a host of international talent.
Their roster includes the likes of Yoko Shimomura (Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy XV) and Manami Matsumae (Shovel Knight, Megaman), as well as three of Ninja Gaiden’s excellent composers – Keiji Yamagishi, Kaori Nakabai and Ryuichi Nitta.
This release is the second in Brave Wave’s ‘Generations Series’, coming after Street Fighter: The Definitive Soundtrack, which received rave reviews for its pleasing yet faithful treatment of Shimomura’s original high-energy score.
This time, Marco Guardia (mixing engineer and associate director at Brave Wave) has turned his talents to recapturing the magic of the Ninja Gaiden trilogy. Combining original hardware and state-of-the-art production techniques, Guardia has created a remaster sure to delight both audiophiles and aspiring lounge ninjas worldwide.
We caught up with three of the trilogy's original composers – Kaori Nakabai, Ryuichi Nitta and Keiji Yamagishi – and asked them how they feel about the re-release of their soundtracks, the first of which hit the market some 29 years ago.
Keiji Yamagishi: ‘Ninja Gaiden was one of my first projects as a composer and sound designer, so I was quite inexperienced back then. Fortunately I was very passionate about my work and I think it shows when you listen now. I put a lot of effort into making that score work on a technical and artistic level, so I'm really honoured by this new release.’
Kaori Nakabai: ‘I had only been working for two years when I began composing for Ninja Gaiden. I had to learn the ropes as fast as I could and work closely with my senior colleagues. I'm really happy that we made some memorable music. My heartfelt thanks to all the fans who've supported Ninja Gaiden for the last 30 years.’
Ryuichi Nitta (Ninja Gaiden II): ‘I can’t believe that next year will be the 30th anniversary of Ninja Gaiden, it’s amazing! I'm really happy with the remaster. Thank you to Brave Wave and to all the gutsy fans over the world. I’m continuing to make new music for all my fans over at ryun.bandcamp.com.’
Ninja Gaiden: The Definitive Soundtrack vol.1 and vol.2 are available in digital form here.
Both volumes can be bought both separately and as box sets on CD and vinyl (shipping from July 1) here.