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*NO* Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) & Knight 'n' Grail "Ninjan graali"


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ReMixer & real name: Eino Keskitalo

Names of games arranged: Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) & Knight 'n' Grail (C64)
Name of Arrangement: Ninjan graali
Names of individual songs arranged:
Hello again panel!
Another oldie but goldie. This was my piece from KNGI Game Duels EP vol.1, that I've touched up for the OCR submission. I took a 10 year break doing that. After the break, I listened to the track and thought "hey, this is actually quite good". Thanks to Guifrog, Rozovian and the WIP VIP Hemophiliac for feedback during these years! I did do quite a bit of sanding away at the mix before submitting, but it was really close to done when it ended up on the backburner. Oh well, it's here now!
There is some story behind this track! KNGI Game Duels was an EP of mash-ups.. I think it was the brainchild of Dj Mokram back in the day on the KNGI forums, after a few other album projects were hosted there. It had a cool theme of every arranger pitting two character types out of three against each other in a piece of music. I picked a couple of games I had played recently. To represent ninja, I picked Ninja Gaiden Sigma on the PS3 that I played through with a friend around then. The aquaduct level music stuck in my mind as being pretty cool. It turned out to be quite challenging to transcribe and arrange, but today I think I did a pretty good job! To represent warrior, I picked a homebrew C64 game Knight 'n' Grail.. which by now is about 15 years old? I'd played it a bit and enjoyed the mood & music. The Ninja Gaiden source tune is from the original Xbox version. I think the Sigma version is a bit different, but maybe I couldn't find a reference source for it so I went with the original.

Source breakdown:

  • The arpeggio from Ghost Castle plays almost throughout
  • The two-note figure that plays in Aquaduct 0:00-0:38 is played 0:00-1:00 (though in 6/8 and 7/8 instead of 4/4)
  • Dropping the bass to C# in Aquaduct at 0:20 is reflected at 0:45-1:00 (although the bass does come back to D# in the arrangement before going back to C#)
  • The melody from Title Screen plays at 0:28-1:00
  • The melody from Ghost Castle at 0:47-> is played in the background at 0:45-1:00
  • Aqueduct 0:39-> is approximated at 1:16-2:07
  • The two-note figure from Aquaduct plays at 2:07-2:38
  • The melody from Ghost Castle is played from 2:07-> The bass also follows Ghost Castle chord changes.
That's about it. Cheers!
Edited by Emunator
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  • 2 weeks later...

I've listened to this a whole bunch of times, over two days now, and there's just something about it that doesn't jive with me that I've been having a hard time putting a finger on. Part of it is how rambling and aimless it is, which is partly due to the sources doing some weird things, but when you slow them down they just sound like random notes in a way the originals don't.

However, is that an objective criticism, or something I just don't care for? I honestly can't say. I'm going to put a pin in this one.


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  • MindWanderer changed the title to 2023/06/28 - (1?) Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) & Knight 'n' Grail "Ninjan graali"
  • 2 weeks later...

intro has a lot of sfx and random-sound sounds that come together to make a rough beat under the ghost arp. we get some melody at 0:30 or so, very chopped up and strange-sounding intentionally so. layering in some plectral instrumentation as well on top obfuscates the melodic material, and the percussion is pretty loud through here.

1:16 is a big stylistic shift, both in terms of time signature and in terms of instrumentation. the heavily filtered strings here are pretty grating and really loud, and it's hard to differentiate between them, the treble content in the very weird bass synth, the ghost arp, the melodic stutter synth, and the plectral instrument that you've had going. it hits more of a groove later on, and around 2:00 has kind of settled down, but it's still confusing to listen to.

2:07 is another shift, bringing back the industrial percussion under a 7/8 groove with more of the very intentionally overtoney bass doing stuff under the stuttery synth. the hard break at 2:40 was confusing to me, as i didn't get why you'd want to just shut off the track in the middle without there being a clear resolution or build section around it. there's some more ghost castle lead played as the melodic content and then it's just done very suddenly.

looking at the freq analysis confirms what i felt was confusing to me from an auditory perspective - the bass instrument (which doesn't really ever venture below about 100hz from what i can hear) is by far the loudest element in the mix, both the fundamental and the first overtone. it's fairly confusing from an auditory perspective to listen to something that features such a high fundamental, especially with the heavy variance in styles throughout the track. the section at 1:16 is a good example - there's nothing to ground the track, and so many elements are in the same aural area that it makes it hard to differentiate and really listen to them. it's very tiring on the ears.

i really want to like this track. the creativity in choices of synths and approach is really neat as expected from eino, the sources are a fun combo, and the arrangement is interwoven nicely. ultimately though it just doesn't sound good - the heavy layering of instruments in the same freq range is intensely tiring. i was only able to get through two listens before my ears felt quite pressured, and the middle section is most of where that came from. the track also is meandering and lacking cohesion, which combined with the lack of real dynamics throughout makes it difficult to follow and stay with what's going on at any given time. there certainly is a ton of source used in creative ways, but the track still manages to feel inchoate.

i think you need to spend some time breaking up the blocks of instruments in the same freq range, and then re-volumize everything so that the instruments that are the loudest at any given time are what you want the listener to be listening to. right now the melodic content is never the main thing, which isn't a great result. also consider adding more to the bass end of the bass instrument while still keeping the weirdness of the upper overtones so as to ground the mix more.




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  • prophetik music changed the title to 2023/06/28 - (1N/1?) Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) & Knight 'n' Grail "Ninjan graali"
  • Liontamer pinned this topic

Tons of interesting textures and patterns in this one. I really like the industrial percussion, with the reverb on it, giving it a spacious and metallic feel. The changing time signatures make it hard to pin down the track, and as such the melody/arpeggio is used as more of an anchor. Given how busy the upper-mids are in the later sections of the track though, I think the mixing does this a disservice. Around 1:35 is where things start to get hard on the ears, with that string pad, and all the resonance on the melodic synths. Things become altogether too cluttered, and it's difficult to get a sense of direction.

I think the arrangement could be improved, however the main issue is that of imbalance and lack of focus. The first minute or so is very engaging and intricate - I'd like the arrangement to progress at this level of textural depth, without losing itself in the process. Toning down some of the resonance may help, or dropping a synth down an octave in the busier parts. There's a great track in there, but this one needs another pass to highlight the details.

NO (resubmit)

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  • DarkSim changed the title to 2023/06/28 - (2N/1?) Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) & Knight 'n' Grail "Ninjan graali"

At 1:33, that synth line's pretty shrill. From 1:51-on (arguably 1:33-on), the way this is mixed, I feel like I'm hearing the beats and claps being the most forward instead of the melodic elements, and then you also have leads and supporting lines competing to be heard due to being in the same frequency range. For example, the lead at 2:07 is too subdued compared to the percussion and industrial sounds (even though I realize it's meant to have contrast with the louder instance at 2:41), then you have stuff like the plucked strings and bassline just adding mud.

Very busy sound without clear enough mixing to know what should be focused on, resulting in nothing having a direction. I like the overall arrangement concept, Eino, but the overall texture is too messy and cluttered.

NO (resubmit)

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  • Liontamer changed the title to 2023/06/28 - (1?/3N) Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) & Knight 'n' Grail "Ninjan graali"
  • Emunator changed the title to *NO* Ninja Gaiden (Xbox) & Knight 'n' Grail "Ninjan graali"
  • Emunator locked and unpinned this topic
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