The Best Music Tracks of Sunsoft’s 8-Bit Composer, Naoki Kodaka

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For a time past of very limited music and sound effects in video gaming, the Sunsoft game development company was truly ahead of its days.

During the late 80s and early 90s, Sunsoft produced some memorable greats for the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. Though the company did not last as long as Konami, Capcom, Namco, players will never forget some hits, Blaster Master, Batman, Journey to Silius. The games of Sunsoft brought a distinct, wonderful flair to the label, setting their games apart in style and appeal.

Their sound in particular was Sunsoft’s special signature, through its musical tracks and sound effects. To play their games was to experience a setting of mood and involvement to the worlds they presented (also well done in visuals). Their scores emitted experimental tones, mixed in with new-age electronica, a genre still in its pioneering stage to the mainstream pop. The use of digitized bass samples, noise waves, triangle waves, and other bits and beats used to heighten the mood of gameplay; either as sound effects or mixed with deep melodies. If you listen carefully in many of the Sunsoft games, you can hear multiple effects and samples recycled, a signature proudly represented.

Much of Sunsoft’s musical scores are credit to its master composer, Naoki Kodaka.

Naoki_Kodaka

Little is known online about the young Japanese musician, other than his dedication to Sunsoft and teamwork with sound programmers, Nobuyuki Hara and Shinichi Seya. He produced game music for Sunsoft from 1985 to 1997. His tracks would live on through classic gamer nostalgia fandom, and various remixes of his work.

Here below are my personal favorite tracks composed by Naoki Kodoka, presented in their original game track format (with special thanks to the YouTube posters of each). Have a listen …

Blaster Master Area 1 –  An instant classic mood-setter for the long adventure ahead. Also, my current phone ringtone…

Blaster Master Area 4 – Great stalking theme and buildup to this stage’s giant boss battle. Hint to what that may be: listen carefully at the end of the build-up..

Blaster Master Area 5 – Peaceful and chill, furthering out the water and diving themes of this stage.

Journey to Silius: Title theme – The kind of theme that you should take your time and listen to before pressing Start.

Journey to Silius Level 4 – One of the hardest game levels of my NES days, but the music does push the player to meet the challenge..

Batman Area 1 – Not as memorable as the Danny Elfman movie theme, but the opening stage score sets the tone of Batman’s 8-bit crime-fighting skills.

Batman Boss Battle – Fantastic digital drum beats going on, with multiple tempo layers to get the plumped for the tough boss battles…

Gremlins 2:  the New Batch Office Theme – This tune well plays off the comedic, anarchic mischief of those Gremlin creatures.

Gremlins 2: the New Batch Gremlin theme – Great buildup and variance, all because you ignored the rules. Also reminds me of the main theme of the original movie score.

Fester’s Quest Title Theme – A strange licensed game featuring Uncle Fester of The Addams Family. Sunsoft’s take on the theme was quite creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, altogether ooky…

Fester’s Quest Boss Battlethe game as a whole, not as fantastic as the Blaster Master or Batman, but the boss theme was quite kick-ass and pushed the limits of the NES sound chip capabilities.

Super Spy Hunter Stage 06 Plane FightA cross mix of the classic Sunsoft style, with the James Bond inspirational of the franchise…

Ufouria: the Saga: Hebe in the Cold Area – From a game not released in the US, with a complex theme that almost feels like a story in itself..

Batman:  Return of the Joker Ending Theme –  Naoki Kodaka’s final NES game, and an end to an era for Sunsoft. it feels fitting, as a goodbye to all the best we got out of the NES, thanks to Sunsoft and many other games pushing the limitations of its console.

– Orion T

MUSIC: A Tiny Spaceship’s Final Mission (FantomenK)

Synopsis (from site):

“A song about a ship which was the earth’s only hope.”

Personal thoughts:

Listen to this tune; reminiscent of the classic 8-bit/16-bit sci-fi shooter era of video gaming, especially of personal favorites – Gradius, R-Type, Forgotten Worlds, Darius Twin. I played these much to the end, for their atmospheric combination of fantastic gameplay, challenge, artistic style, and atmospheric music. For the “Final Mission,” this score brings to mind the constant theme of a sole hero setting out in some speedy spaceship. Ahead, is some threatening adversary for the peace of the universe; probably surrounded by ridiculous overwhelming numbers. The best friends of our hero will be incredible skill, wit, and the occasional power-up (maybe a cheat code if the hero sucks at previous attributes). The best reward will be the mass destruction of enemies and obstacles leading to the cosmic overthreat (is it a giant face or some brain thing?). Then do it again, in “hard” or “expert” mode. Some of this satisfaction will involve insane firepower-ups and a meaningless score of at least ten digits. The sound here, is probably the open stage for our hero. Don’t worry, the first boss will be easy..eventually.

– Orion T

 

MUSIC: Battle Against A Machine

 

 

    • Title: Battle Against A  Machine
    • Game composers: Keiichi Suzuki, Hirokazu Tanaka, Hiroshi Kanazu
    • Source: Earthbound, soundtrack to the Super Nintendo Game

Music, to fight the evil Starmen. The Starmen are a race of evil robot aliens with strange powers led by Giygas, AKA the Universal Cosmic Destroyer and Embodiment of Evil;  in an effort to lead all futures into infinite darkness. Eventually, a small town boy from Onett and friends may stop them.

The music meanwhile, is a fantastic piece of underrated electronica; from the epic role playing adventure, Earthbound (or Mother 2, to those in Japan and hardcore purists). It’s soundtrack represents the best of the Super Nintendo’s musical power to heighten game mechanics and mood beyond its own gameplay. But this particular favorite, is groovy and coool.

Earthbound is a magnificent game, essential for all mixed media story lovers. Currently, it’s available on the Wii through Nintendo’s eShop.