Sunday, June 1, 2014

My Gaming Audio History: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Arcade Game (1990)

I'm getting to the end of the NES games in My Gaming Audio History-- this is the third to last!  What an accomplishment that makes me feel great and want to digest and take pause!  And yet, I'm also completely ready to move on to the SNES games so that I can compare them.  I've also been thinking about what attracts me to game music study and also what I've learned so far examining these NES games.  More on all that another day.  For now, The NES version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (II): The arcade game.  

If you watch the credits to this game in the longplay, you'll notice two audio folks mentioned.  Sound Design: Y Manno.  Music Design: K Nakamura.  I've scoured the internet for information on this and it seems that questions remain.  Is the music designer Kozo Nakamura or Kiezo Nakamura?  More information is necessary to sort this out.  Regardless, there are a few common errors in attribution that I can clarify.  First of all is that references to the cartoon series tunes need to give credit for Dennis Brown and Chuck Lorre.  Also, any references to original arcade game music should go to those composers, Mutshuhiko Izumi and Miki Higashino as I reported in my post on the arcade game.    This isn't to downplay what's been done here by Manno and Nakamura, but just to clarify that much of the music was composed by others, even if Mannon and Nakamura arranged it for the NES and composed some new music.  

One of my favorite things about the longplay below is that it includes a death scenario.  Really awesome to hear the game over music in the context of the game.  I wish more longplays also consider "all music heard" as a valid portion of the game demonstration.  Not only for my research purposes, but also for the sake of the game and its creators.  Here it's cool to hear that the game over music is the same as the arcade version.  Equally bizarre that it's also the music that's heard at the end of the game, of course, that's how the arcade ends as well!  

Comparing the NES and arcade versions of this game...

Of course the arcade has much better sound than the NES version.  It's hardly even able to hold it's own, particularly with the bass sound.  The arcade also uses music samples directly fro the TV show, which the NES version obviously couldn't do for memory's sake.  Pieces that are reused here, the fire level, Shedder, Krang, boss, and several levels are in the same key and, often, roughly in the same tempo as the arcade version.  However, a few are faster on the NES than the arcade.  There's also new music for the winter, industrial, and Shogun levels here; ironically one of the most simple pieces musically.  Interestingly, the sewer music is different than the arcade sewer music.  The arcade also has a second track for fighting on the skateboards that isn't used in the NES game.

Fascinating: this game has almost 10.5 minutes of music, whereas the arcade version has just under 10 minutes (almost a minute less than the NES game).  In other words, the faster tempo of a few tracks balances out the addition of a few extra tracks not found in each version.  Plus, the ending music is extended to allow for credits, which is shorter in the arcade version.  Cool to compare these two games.

The following are my detailed notes on the individual tracks.  These notes were compiled using this soundtrack.

-We gotta save April: 9 sec.  Db major.  Motive from the TV show theme by Chuck Lorre and DC Brown.
-Choose your turtle: 7 sec.  C major.  Again, theme from TV show.
-Fire: C minor.  44.5 sec.  Intro (4+4) A B.  Same i-bIII-IV-bVI progression as the theme song.  First 4 on intro doesn't repeat in loop.  Same key as arcade.
-Boss: 32 sec.  A minor.  A (12) B (4).  Same as arcade.
-Shredder's Introduction: 7 sec.  E.
-Streets of New York:  38 sec.  C major.  Intro (4) A A' B (12).  Again, motive from the TV show, i-bIII-IV-bVI.  Intro doesn't repeat in the loop.  Same key as arcade.
-To the sewers: 1.5 sec.  A major.
-Sewers: 41.5 sec.  A minor.  Intro (4) A Intro (2) B.  Chord planing upward at the end that increases tension and craziness.  Don't hear a connection between the arcade and the NES here.
-Tonight I dine on turtle soup: 6.5 sec.  A minor.
-Winter's here: 30.5 sec.  D minor.  A B.  Simple form.  1 bar intro doesn't repeat.
-Spring's here: 3.5 sec.  B major.  TMNT motive.
-Parking lot: 40.5 sec.  Db major.  A B(10).  TMNT motive.  Same as arcade.
-Kiss: 2 sec.  Whole tone pattern.
-Skate on: 40 sec.  C major.  Intro (4) A B (7).  Same as arcade "freeway."  
-Industrial district: 30 sec.  E major.  A B C.  A section seems unrelated with B and C!
-Let's head up: 3.5 sec.  Db major.
-Shogun: 20.5 sec.  D minor.  Intro (1) A B(4).  Uses the "hero's in a half shell" motive.
-It's the technodrome: 6 sec.  E minor.  Virtually the same as arcade.
-Technodrome: 48.5 sec.  E minor.  Intro (4+4) A B (10).  Same as arcade.
-Invincible Krang:  36.5 sec.  Intro bar plus, 11 measures, then transposed same 11 measures.  Simple progression: I-bVII-bVI-V, first in F, then Ab.  Intro bar doesn't loop.  Virtually the same as arcade.
-Shredder: 33 sec loop, shortened 4 sec introduction from earlier in the game.  E minor.  Intro (4) A12 A' B(11) Schizophrenic sound, especially with the way the "Shedder intro" bits come in the middle of the track."  Virtually the same as the arcade version.  Virtually the same as the arcade.  
-Way to go Turtles: 19 sec.  Db major.  Significantly faster and shorter intro than arcade.
-Credits: 1:57.  E major.  Intro (1) A7 B(8) A B C A7 8-10 fade out.  Same key and music also used in the arcade, but there's repeated music here, A and B return before C enters.  
-Game Over: 3 sec.  C major.

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