Ninja Gaiden Trilogy & Arcade Soundtrack Vinyl Box Set by Brave Wave

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Ninja Gaiden for the NES is one of my favourite video games of all time. Not just for the 8-bit years. I’m talking ALL TIME.  If you’re new to my site, you can see the love I expressed for it HERE and for the 2nd installment HERE.

Once you’ve read my outpouring of love for those classics, it should be no surprise when Brave Wave announced they were releasing the soundtrack to Ninja Gaiden 1, 2, 3, (for the NES) and the arcade game on CD and 180 gram vinyl, I was ready to jump on board and buy!

The CDs and vinyl box sets were available on Brave Wave’s web store and Bandcamp page and some box sets and vinyl were also available on Mondo’s site.  The box sets sold out almost immediately.  If you want the releases on vinyl, you’ll have to buy them individually, although none seem to be on Mondo’s site anymore.  There was an edition of the box set limited to 100 copies that had a signed certificate through the Bandcamp page but I passed on it for the extra $20-40 US it was.

I got the CDs back in May and the vinyl box set was supposed to be released in June but got pushed back a bit because of quality control.  I don’t mind waiting a month or two if a company wants to get something just right…and they got it right!  Well, at least the music they got right.

The music contained on the vinyl and the CDs is mind-blowing.  Not only does all the music kick ass but the remastering/restoration process they did on all these to make them come alive and shine is truly a work of art.  Never have these (or at least the music I’m familiar with) sound so grand and full of life.

What I do mind is the art direction taken for these releases.  You’ll read below where I think they should have done something different.  For example, the main box both records come in has text/information in the top left corner of the box.  There is NO reason to do this.  I can see them leaving the “G” logo in the top right but c’mon…why ruin the iconic artwork with text? Leave that for the back or the inside.

Speaking of the back, you’ll see they use the exact same aesthetic for all the releases (and the CDs).  They couldn’t have designed something more enticing or eye popping with all the Ninja Gaiden art they had at their disposal to use.

Album #1 – Ninja Gaiden (NES) and Ninja Gaiden Arcade Soundtracks

This is the most important release for me because the music for the first Ninja Gaiden game for the NES is held close to my heart.  It’s cool to see they used different art for the front of the vinyl BUT they could have still used the art from the box for the front and used what we see below for the back.

Again, that text is in the top left ruining what should be a clean cover.  The back is the same plain crap.  Why didn’t the people who created this put the track listing on the back like everyone else?

They didn’t put the track listing on the back because they wanted to put it on the inside of the gate-fold to ruin the iconic screen that blew us 8-bit fans away when we were kids.  I am so happy they used this visual for the inside but I just can’t believe they put the track listing on the inside instead of the back.

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The soundtrack to the NES game (Ninja Gaiden 1) is featured on the orange vinyl and the soundtrack to the arcade game is on the red vinyl.  I had never heard the arcade soundtrack before and it’s pretty damn rocking.  I’ll be jamming it more often than I ever thought I would.  I loves me some gaming music!

The first vinyl features a large booklet that features an interview with many who were involved in the development of the game and the music from back in the day. You can tell it was translated to English so some of it doesn’t flow perfectly – much like my writing (ha!).  What is revealed in this interview is excellent insider information about what it was like to develop games at that period in time, what they did to create the music, and what pitching ideas to the heads at Tecmo was like at the time.

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For comparison, here is the CD edition of this release. It is very similar to the vinyl.  The booklet features the exact same stuff as the booklet above but with very small text. The text on the front of the CD booklet is larger and ruins the artwork even more than the large vinyl presentation.

 

Album #2  – Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos &
Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom Soundtracks

The rundown for this release will be shorter than what I wrote above because everything I like and my gripes are basically the same.  I will say that I really DO love the soundtrack to Ninja Gaiden II: The Dark Sword of Chaos.  It’s just that the original NES game’s soundtrack will always be preferred.

As for Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom, I never owned the original NES game and it wasn’t until many years later that I played it so the music for that game is not ingrained in my head like the other two games.

No one I knew had the game and for some reason I chose other games to buy (well, ask my mom to buy for me). Less than a year later, I moved onto the SNES and sold my NES and games so this game fell on the wayside for me.

The inside of the gate-fold features more amazing artwork RUINED with the text of the track listing.  Ugh…what were they thinking?!?

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Ninja Gaiden II is featured on the blue vinyl and Ninja Gaiden III is on the yellow vinyl.

The booklet is similar to the booklet that comes with the other vinyl/CD. It just expands onto the sequels.

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Once again, here is the CD version of the release just as a comparison.  Yep, I’m still loathing the plain back cover with no track listing and the text on the front of the CD booklet ruining the art.

If you’d like to see the full track listing for these releases, go to this Discogs page.  Brave Wave has also done a complete soundtrack for Street Fighter II.  While that game is one that is close to my heart as well and has memorable tunes, I passed on it because it was pretty pricey.

The whole package for these and the CDs are great except my issues with some of the design and the text ruining the art.  I suppose what matters the most is the music and it’s is all presented with love and attention. Brave Wave definitely showed they really cared about the music from these games and knew the fans were just as passionate about it.  For that, I give them two thumbs up and the metal horns.

Here’s a video with me running down everything and you can take a better glance at the booklet and the sleeves for the vinyl.  Enjoy!

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