Top 30 NES Soundtracks #21: Ninja Gaiden
By Bucky Wednesday, 10 Jun 2009

#21 – Ninja Gaiden (32 Votes)

#21 Ninja Gaiden

Developer, Publisher: Tecmo
Year: 1988 (JP), 1989 (US), 1991 (EU)
AKA: Ninja Ryuukenden (JP), Shadow Warriors (EU)

Coming in at #21 is Ninja Gaiden, an action platformer often recognized for its groundbreaking use of cinematic cutscenes. I think this soundtrack is a rare example of classic video game music where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Whereas a lot of soundtracks are fondly remembered for having a couple catchy tunes, it’s the use and timing of incidental music that sets Ninja Gaiden over the top.

Ninja Gaiden boasts nearly 20 minutes of cutscenes, with some in between-stage sequences that offer over three different tracks of music. Detached from gameplay, some of the incidental music may not be the most impressive NES music out there. In context, however, the frequent introduction of new tracks that aid the story as it unfolds is an NES musical experience that is hard to top.

This isn’t to say that the game is without some very notable, individual tunes. My favorites are the second half of the introduction sequence, and the stage 4-2 (Mine Shaft) music. There are other great ones as well, but those two stand out the most to me in terms of being most sorrowful and driving, respectively.

More Yamasan, B.B., and Hasake are credited for the sound design of Ninja Gaiden. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any other NES music from these composers.

Enjoy a selection of tracks on youtube here.

One Response to “Top 30 NES Soundtracks #21: Ninja Gaiden”

  1. Zach Patterson Says:

    While NG2 is my favorite NES soundtrack without a doubt, this one fits in so well with it and is pretty iconic in its own right.

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