First of all…. 10 is not enough LOL :D

Matt Gray: The Last Ninja 2 – Level 1 (subtune2)

What? Lame to start the same as part 1? NO! In the same way that LN1′s first level theme was so defining of the game, so it is also true of Matt Gray’s hitting the big time with his massive scores for LN2.  The loading tune is almost a prelude to this piece, but this is so much more powerful, and such a different approach to a soundtrack than the first game.  I dont think any of the pieces in the first game featured drums at all per se…. here Matt’s HUGE drums bash the beat of the modern day adventures of our Ninja mate into your head :)

Honourable mention goes to the level 2 loading tune as well, which I have always had a soft spot for :)

Now, to cheat a bit – Reyn Ouwehand also did a completely amazing set of music for the 3rd game in the series with his own unique style, but closer in mood to the first game’s ambience. Level 2 (“Wind”) is probably my favourite.


Two amazing remixes come to mind.  One is Reyn’s own Asian Legends but my own favourite is Markus Schneiders cinematic take on several themes from the games – and that goes for all the ninja games :)


Wally Beben: TETRIS


(Recording courtesy of Stone Oakvalley !)

You have no idea how annoyed I get when I hear people talking about the “birth of 8-bit music becoming popular” in reference to Nintendo’s incarnation of the game.  First of all… It WASNT, you f***s, and secondly there is only ONE Tetris soundtrack.. and that is Wally Beben’s C64 18+ minutes opus for the 1988 game.

A very odd piece, feels like a kind of post-modern futureretro Native American chant, with a mystical, ethereal quality, yet underpinned with a grungy dirty sound that defies proper description.

C64 Tetris was my first encounter with the game, and as such it remains my favorite, but mainly because playing the game was an almost Zen-like trance experience because of the music.  It was a magnificent artistic choice on the behalf of the programmers of the game to have music at all in the game, since by the game’s nature it could end up being repetitively annoying . To combat this Wally Beben made a score epic in length.  I had in mind it was about 10 mins long, but its in fact closer to 20, and has distinctive tonal, ryhthmic and melodic changes throughout its length.

My favorite moments are the slow build,the lonesome whistle in the first minute, then at 3:00 this impossible sounds kicks in.. is it a guitar? is it a chord? It’s a sample (4th channel) is what it is – tho this was completely lost on me back then – its such an odd sound, its more like something that would be created by bonding 2 or more SID channels together with a filter.. and that’s maybe why it works so well.  5:58 – everything goes up a notch, with a sense of urgency conveyed by the querulous lead instrument.  My favorite moment occurs @ 9m:30s another change of rhythm, a pounding beat punctuated by those chords.  More lush progression @ 11:28ish – and thats what this piece is all about – progression, the closest non-chiptune I can think of might be Tubular Bells, or something by Phillip Glass.  14 mins in we get something akin to a Morricone style, pseudo-western.   The use of the 4th channel samples here is magnificent – carrying all the rhythm and beat through its use of staccato and held notes.  The piece loops around 19 mins or so, which is nice for the game, but I would have loved it suddenly ceasing with a “sudden cessation of sound” ;) with some sort of pseudo-echo/reverb signifying the loneliness of the piece… but maybe thats for a remixer to do ;)


Well – not a tune popular with remixers as such judging by how few have attempted , but then the piece is a huge commitment – it wouldnt work just to remix a part of it.  My fave of the bunch tho is Kraku’s stab at the piece – he’s covered the first half of it (stops just before my fave bit :( ) and has done so pretty respectively, but not definitely in my opinion – no one has yet.  I might have a go yet myself.. but my wee brain has a hard time trying to imagine what instruments would do justice to those big sounds.


Jeroen Tel: HOT ROD (Subtune 1 + 2)

Another 4-channel piece… and you might have thought I’d gone with Turbo Outrun… but no.. I prefer the tune and melody of this piece.  Samples are sparser and more subtle than TOR’s title piece (tho another special mention to the glorious titlescreen of said game! )

No, for me the combination of the sampletastic intro tune, and the wondrous bouncing beachbuggy of a tune that is the main title hit the nostalgia spots in me just right :)


Only one I can find – the late and wonderful Skitz did a fairly low-key arrangement , but it hits all the right spots with its authenticity – the choice of piano lead later on in it is magnificent.

No-one has yet tried the title theme.  So many tunes, too much lazy moi :D


Steve Barrett: Trojan Warrior (subtune 1)

Download/listen to the MP3 – courtesy of Stone Oakvalley


No, really!  Its a bit out-there I know, but in terms of tuneful quality its a beautifully constructed piece of music.  

I remember buying the game (it was a £1.99 job back in the day) – an odd Nemesis clone featuring a dude on a flying horse if I remember correctly.  I seem to remember the horse being superbly animated.  But it was the music that won me over instantly.  Both the title theme and in-game piece were very good, but it was the title in particular that has stuck in my head all this time.


Obscure tunes rarely get remixed, alas. (I’m just as bad, what I remix is about *my* nostalgia, no-one elses lol)

Dr Future did one tho – and its pretty good (aside from HORROR THE HORROR! – an incorrect chord in the main section, should be a minor, not a major) and I’m grateful for the remix, but I’d love a more authentic take on it.


Oh god oh god I’m up to my 10th tune on this stupidly small number of faves… hmmm… what shall it be….

Jammer: Mr Marvellous

A contemporary (2006) C64 tune ! :)  Some of the things these heroes of the retro revolution are pulling from the olde C64 are just amazing.  This is one of a few tunes that had me agog when I first heard them, completely nonplussed as to how they could do this.

Cheating again, I’ll group in some more in No.10:

and most especially 0.O:



…. Yes.. I’ve ommitted Wizball, Phantoms of the Asteroid, Monty, Platoon, Batman, et all.. but 10 tunes! and to make them a mix of the obvious and not so obvious… HARD! :D

Let me know your faves, and why :) – and not just C64 either – I plan to talk about Amiga tunes later on :)