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Listen: 8-Bit Ninja Gaiden Composer Keiji Yamagishi's New Album

The 8-bit maestro makes his return with a chiptune-inspired album, and we have the whole thing.

News by Jeremy Parish, .

The name Keiji Yamagishi doesn't command quite as much nostalgic reverence among game music enthusiasts as, say, Koji Kondo or Nobuo Uematsu. But if you owned an NES, you probably rocked out to Yamagishi's tunes all the same.

Yamagishi worked on some big-name 8-bit hits, including the old Ninja Gaiden games (not the Team Ninja series) and Tecmo Super Bowl. Part of Yamagishi's relative obscurity comes from the fact that, unlike the other composers I mentioned, he dropped out of the business a few years ago. Not just out of making game music, but out of composing altogether, discouraged by the fact that the advent of better audio technology and the rush to a more Hollywood-like sound in games made his skill set — a mastery over primitive wave forms and digitally generated sound — obsolete.

Times have changed, though, and game fans have increasingly grown to appreciate forgotten ways of game design: Classic game genres, old-school graphics, and decidedly video game-ish chiptune music have all made a resurgence over the past few years. This in turn has made Yamagishi's formerly deprecated talents a hot commodity again. In addition to his return to game composition last year, he also has a new solo album called Retro-Active Pt. 1 due out later this week through Brave Wave Records.

Until the album launches, though, Brave Wave has offered USgamer readers a chance to stream Retro-Active Pt. 1 in its entirety. So why not give it a listen? Yamagishi had one of the most distinctive sounds of any NES composer — check out our recent "best of NES" video and compare his music for Tecmo Super Bowl to this work on Ninja Gaiden! — although many of his best works (such as NES action RPG Radia Senki and soccer RPG Captain Tsubasa 2) never made it to the U.S. Retro-Active doesn't sound exactly like the Ninja Gaiden music you may remember from the '80s and '90s, using a much broader range of sources and styles than the four-channel audio of the NES, but his new material sounds great all the same. Listen to it here:

And, of course, consider grabbing the full album once it launches later this week to help ensure Yamagishi's return to the world of game music is a long-term one.

Special thanks to Mohammed Taher and Brave Wave music for providing USgamer with this exclusive first stream of the album.

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Comments 22

  • Avatar for averageplayer #1 averageplayer 2 years ago
    Man that was absolutely wonderful. Wish more of the old masters were still releasing material like this. Thanks for sharing.
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  • Avatar for SargeSmash #2 SargeSmash 2 years ago
    Fantastic. I've always loved the music in Ninja Gaiden and Tecmo Super Bowl. Especially the opening for TSB. That chugging, 8-bit "guitar" is awesome.
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  • Avatar for Davda-Krife #3 Davda-Krife 2 years ago
  • Avatar for Mikki-Saturn #4 Mikki-Saturn 2 years ago
    Whoa, man, this is great stuff! I love it.
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  • Avatar for robokick #5 robokick 2 years ago
    @averageplayer Hi! I'm the director of the album. That's been my goal with Brave Wave: to bring back the composers of the old and let them make more music. I'm currently making new albums with the composer of Gimmick!, Masashi Kageyama, and the co-composer of Bayonetta 1/2, Takahiro Izutani. I'm also working on a big chiptune album featuring many of the past Mega Man composers (including those of MM1, 2, 3, 5, 9, and 10). Many of those retro composers quit because, similar to Yamagishi, they couldn't keep up, and they didn't know how to work on Western games. We brought Mega Man's Manami Matsumae to work on Shovel Knight, and now Keiji Yamagishi is working on a new game (plus composed 4 tracks to last year's Adventure Time). I'm glad that the landscape is changing for them and we're able to finally let them do the work that inspires them.

    Please enjoy the album!...and let me know if there's a composer that deserves my attention. Always happy to travel, dig up & help.
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  • Avatar for lanmao #6 lanmao 2 years ago
    That was pretty great!
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  • Avatar for marcnix45 #7 marcnix45 2 years ago
    So much to learn...
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  • Avatar for nickdaniel17 #8 nickdaniel17 2 years ago
    Usually it takes me a couple listens to really get into an album. But this one has hooked me right away. I'm definitely getting this one right away.
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  • Avatar for SatelliteOfLove #9 SatelliteOfLove 2 years ago
    He was talking a few years back how publishers never called him due to a strong love for live instrumentation and vocals hitting over there a decade ago. It's great he's found a new avenue.
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  • Avatar for Jason-X #10 Jason-X 2 years ago
    Not sure if Mr. Yamagishi is reading any of these comments, but awesome work! Love the new album. Just wish there was a game for this music to go with!
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  • Avatar for robokick #11 robokick 2 years ago
    @Jason-X He's reading every single comment! (Hi, Yamagishi-san.)
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  • Avatar for Austin-C- #12 Austin-C- 2 years ago
    More please :)
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  • Avatar for mos8580 #13 mos8580 2 years ago
    @robokick Thanks for doing what you do. I was aware of World 1-2 because I follow Chipzel, and Ray Barnholt tweeted about you this week. Keep 'em coming.

    I recorded the music to Ninja Gaiden to my minidisc player and listened to that on my commute way, way before it was 'cool' :)

    Thank you for your great music Yamagishi-san!
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  • Avatar for hal9k #14 hal9k 2 years ago
    To everyone who made this possible - thank you! This was unexpected and very cool.

    I'm actually streaming this while plugging away at the original '88 Wasteland. Does that count as retro futurism, futuristic retro, or one of each?
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  • Avatar for Frosty840 #15 Frosty840 2 years ago
    This preview is so much fun. Looking forward to the full album.
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  • Avatar for hammersuit #16 hammersuit 2 years ago
    I love this -- great exclusive, loved the preview.
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  • Avatar for clearancesticker17 #17 clearancesticker17 2 years ago
    God...this is just--just so much happy.
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  • Avatar for alexb #18 alexb 2 years ago
    This is pretty good, mostly. I don't like the Vocaloid stuff. Still, I'm happy Yamagishi is getting out there again. I'm always up for hearing more from our beloved veteran game devs. The current gaming landscape needs them badly.
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  • Avatar for More-Yamasan #19 More-Yamasan 2 years ago
    @robokick I read. Thank you everyone!
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  • Avatar for DiscordInc #20 DiscordInc 2 years ago
    Pre-ordered this and just got the full album. It is soooo good.
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  • Avatar for hiptanaka #21 hiptanaka 2 years ago
    Wonderful!
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  • Avatar for jacob11 #22 jacob11 A month ago
    Get list of romance film songs for free and download all the songs in one click.
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