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The Ninja Warriors Again – “Opening” and “Title” (Hiroyuki Iwatsuki)

March 25, 2010

I actually had to wait a couple days to post this track. Game Music 4 All and Jeriaska just released a tribute album to Hiroyuki Iwatsuki (aka IWADON) they have been directing with over 20 artists from around the world. It’s a massive project with plenty of good stuff, so you should check it out. I was very excited about this album when I heard that Grant Henry (aka Stemage) of Metroid Metal fame had a track on the album. That track was the “Opening” and “Title” themes to The Ninja Warriors Again, a 1994 SNES beat ’em up loosely based off the original 1988 Taito arcade title, The Ninja Warriors. While this game had plenty of album releases, the SNES version never saw printing.

The Ninja Warriors Again – “Opening” and “Title” (Hiroyuki Iwatsuki)

Iwatsuki’s originals contain some incredibly cool sounds from the SNES sound chip, particularly the deep bass rumble the tracks open and end with. The “Opening” plays for the title video showing the story. Trumpets blare over a bass line to illustrate the desolation and horror that lies within the metropolis. The music is very cinematic, and produces a nice build that leads into the title theme. The title, though short, has a very catchy melody, a ray of hope cutting into the darkness – but one that is perhaps tinged with a bit of doubt (will the ninjas really stop afterward or will they turn into berzerkers?). The instruments are rock-solid. The fact that it plays over a logo that has little ninja people in the title makes it even better. Here is the video of the intro.

Grant Henry’s rendition of this is amazing. While I can’t share the mp3, the track is currently available for streaming from the official website (he’s track number 3). Henry’s guitars pick up on the brooding nature of the original, taking great care to punctuate the track with drum beats and guitar breaks. The transition into the “Title” segment is also done well, and there is plenty of variation and development of the original track to fill in the last 1:40 of the song.

Anyway, there are a couple really funny things about The Ninja Warriors (the 1988 arcade game). First, it’s got an absolutely hilarious ending screen (skip ahead to about 2:00).

Second, it’s incredibly racist, with lots of slaying of demon-eyed black people (though I suppose you also get to kill flying bat-ninjas, so Resident Evil 5 isn’t quite there). Finally, the Sega CD release had some incredibly crappy voiceovers for the intro. Thankfully, the SNES version is more of a remake, with superior gameplay, graphics, and music (though they censored the ninja chicks and blood for the US release).

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