Chris' NES Chiptune Collections

Downloads - Track List 1 - Track List 2 - Track List 3 - Track List 4 - Track List 5 - How I Did It - About Me

At this site you can download five compilations of NES chiptunes! Each collection has about 85-90 tracks. And they're all free.


Downloads

NES Collection 1 (ZIP)
NES Collection 2 (ZIP)
NES Collection 3 (ZIP)
NES Collection 4 (ZIP)
NES Collection 5 (ZIP)

The downloads are zipped. Each zip file contains MP3s of each track in the collection as well as a playlist. Once unzipped, the package should be WinAmp-ready.

Although I recommend WinAmp for playback, you can use other mechanisms, like Windows Media Player or an MP3 player. I am aware that WinAmp is no longer directly supported anymore, but it absolutely ruled back in the late 1990s, so I need no further justification.

You can burn your own CDs from the collections. Each of the four collections fits on one CD, provided that no 2-second delays appear between the tracks (they will still fit, but just barely).

I believe my playlist order is the best, but you are free to mix the tracks up and redistribute as you see fit. I would appreciate it if you give me credit for the mixing job if you re-post the collections, though. They were time-consuming to prepare, to say the least.


NES Album 1 Tracks

Sample: Mega Man 2 Metal Man
Game Song Context
1. Life Force Level 6
2. Kirby's Adventure Upbeat
3. Shinobi Level 1
4. Jacky Chan's Action Kung Fu Level 2
5. Bionic Commando City (Level 8)
6. Mega Man 2 Dr. Wily's Hideout, levels 1 and 2 [1]
7. Blaster Master Level 2
8. Contra Force Level 1
9. Life Force Level 3 [2]
10. Ninja Gaiden Death Mountain (Level 2)
11. Rambo Main Combat Theme
12. Mach Rider Still Standing City Theme
13. Totally Rad Cave (Level 4)
14. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 Burning Building (Level 1)
15. Time Lord The Future (Level 1)
16. Life Force Boss [3]
17. Heavy Barrel Last Stage [4]
18. Strider Hiryu Phantom Train (Level 2)
19. Mike Tyson's Punch-Out Main Combat Theme [5]
20. Fester's Quest Streets [6]
21. Blaster Master Level 1
22. Chip 'n Dale Cannery [7]
23. Mega Man 2 Metal Man
24. Castlevania 3 Aquarius (multiple levels)
25. Star Tropics Main Combat Theme
26. Bionic Commando Tower (multiple levels)
27. Ninja Gaiden Prison Escape (Level 2)
28. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade S.S. Coronado
29. Castlevania 3 Evil Forest
30. Final Fantasy Under the Sea
31. Ninja Gaiden 2 Level 1
32. Strider Hiryu Red Dragon
33. Rush 'n Attack Level 2
34. Jacky Chan's Action Kung Fu Fast Automatic Scrolling (multiple levels)
35. Guerilla War Ending
36. Castlevania Level 1 [8]
37. Life Force Level 1
38. Hector '87 Level 1
39. Final Fantasy Cave (various locations)
40. Strider Hiryu Kazakhstan (Level 1)
41. Rygar Sagila's Hideout
42. Totally Rad Underwater (Level 3)
43. Super C Level 1
44. Gun.Smoke Level 1 [9]
45. Skate or Die Downhill Jam [10]
46. Totally Rad Circus Tent (Level 1) [11]
47. Tetris Song 1 [12]
48. Road Runner Level 1
49. Spy Hunter Main Theme [13]
50. Battletoads Wookie Hole (Level 2)
51. Goonies 2 Level 1 [14]
52. T and C Surf Design Main Theme
53. River City Ransom Main Theme
54. Kid Icarus World 1
55. Jacky Chan's Action Kung Fu Level 3
56. Strider Hiryu Japan (and other contexts)
57. Contra Level 1
58. Jacky Chan's Action Kung Fu Level 1
59. Metroid Brinstar [15]
60. Legendary Wings Level 2
61. Super Mario Bros. 3 Music Box
62. Prisoner of War Level 2
63. Code Name Viper Levels 5 and 6
64. Gauntlet Any Room (selected randomly)
65. Castlevania 3 Dracula's Showdown
66. Final Fantasy Main Theme [16]
67. Gauntlet Any Room (selected randomly)
68. Rygar Gran Mountain (Level 2)
69. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade JEHOVA floor puzzle
70. Paperboy Main Theme
71. Super Mario Bros. 2 Outdoor Theme
72. Wizards and Warriors 3 Knight's Theme
73. Prisoner of War Level 3
74. Chip 'n Dale Casino
75. Duck Tales Jungle (The Amazon)
76. Code Name Viper Ending
77. Kirby's Adventure Mellow
78. The Legend of Zelda Title Theme
79. Castlevania 3 Victory
80. Ninja Gaiden Foster (CIA briefing)
81. Willow Zhena
82. Wizards and Warriors 3 Thieves' Guild
83. Super Mario Bros. 2 Ending [17]
84. Willow Ending
85. Road Runner Game Over

Special Notes

[1] Probably one of the most memorable themes from the entire Mega Man franchise, other than the title screen theme song itself. This track and others like it have caused Mega Man 2 to win a whole mess of musical awards.

[2] Very appropriate theme for Life Force, where your ship is sandwiched inside a tunnel of infernal heat, with tongues of flame bursting everywhere. The level characterized by this song is LITERALLY hell.

[3] The boss theme for Life Force makes you feel like you're in a lot of trouble (you are). Interestingly enough, the arcade version of this track had the treble and bass flipped around: high became low, and low became high. The NES version of the track (the one most people remember) still turned out stellar.

[4] It's common for the catchiest songs to appear at the start of a game as a way of giving the game staying power in the mind of the player. For some reason, Data East decided to put one of their best songs at the END of the game, instead.

[5] The Wii Punch-Out game reprises this theme over and over. Amazing, considering it's over 20 years old!

[6] As much as the AVGN hates this game, he still likes the music!

[7] Ever listen to the Bay Area theme of Final Fight? Perhaps the composer was the same.

[8] This is actually from Castlevania 3, which reprises the first game's theme.

[9] No, it's not a typo. "Gun.Smoke" is the actual title of the game. It's weird because the game clearly inherits all the publicity of the TV show, despite having introduced the period as a way of supposedly avoiding trademark conflicts.

[10] This is a classic example of a quality track, the entirety which people rarely hear. The downhill jam competition lasts only a few seconds, but the track lasts over a minute before looping.

[11] Very clever "be-bop" take on the classic carnival tune.

[12] This is actually Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy," from The Nutcracker. Not sure if he'd be rolling over in his grave now that his famous tune found its way into a popular video game?

[13] Midway appropriated the entire Peter Gunn theme song.

[14] Cyndi Lauper, in all her loud and colorful glory, performed the original "Goonies are Good Enough" song. The chiptune variant does not disappoint.

[15] Not many memorable Metroid songs. Which one did Super Smash Brothers use?

[16] The recurring theme had to come from somewhere. Here it is: Final Fantasy I.

[17] I've fooled plenty of people by playing this theme on the piano. For some reason, they think it's Mozart.


NES Album 2 Tracks

Sample: Bionic Commando Level 1
Game Song Context
1. Battletoads and Double Dragon Atop the Missile (Level 5)
2. The Goonies Bonus Cave
3. Heavy Barrel Level 2
4. Double Dragon 2 Final Boss
5. Legacy of the Wizard Dungeon Entrance
6. Fester's Quest Boss Theme
7. Bad Dudes Level 1
8. Code Name Viper Level 1 and 2
9. Guerilla War Level 1
10. Batman Level 4
11. Code Name Viper Drug Factory (Level 7 and 8)
12. Mighty Final Fight Level 2
13. Double Dragon 3 Italy (Level 4)
14. Bionic Commando Level 1 [1]
15. Gauntlet Any Room (usually with harsh challenge)
16. Battletoads Intruder Excluder (Level 8)
17. Shadow of the Ninja Title Theme [2]
18. Double Dragon 2 Level 2
19. Tiger Heli Main Theme
20. Heavy Barrel Level 1
21. Double Dragon Level 1 [3]
22. Double Dragon 2 Tractor
23. Guerilla War Level 3
24. Shadow of the Ninja Level 1
25. Mega Man 3 Spark Man
26. Kirby's Adventure Upbeat 2
27. Double Dragon 3 Tomb [4]
28. Ninja Gaiden 2 Windy Peaks (Level 2)
29. Blaster Master Level 5
30. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 Burning Building (Level 1)
31. Castlevania 3 Swamp
32. Duck Tales Boss
33. Code Name Viper Final Boss
34. Metal Gear Base
35. Double Dragon 2 Level 1
36. Legendary Wings Level 3
37. Duck Tales Spaceship [5]
38. Life Force Level 4
39. Gradius Level 4
40. Super Mario Bros. Overworld
41. Blaster Master Level 6
42. Guerilla War Mine Cart Rescue
43. Castlevania 3 Clockwork
44. Blaster Master Level 3
45. Mega Man 4 Dr. Cosack's Hideout, levels 3 and 4
46. Willow Wilderness
47. Guerilla War City
48. Mighty Final Fight Level 4
49. Bad Dudes Level 2
50. Life Force Level 5
51. Mega Man 3 Dr. Wily's Hideout, levels 1 and 2
52. Battletoads Surf's Up (Level 5)
53. Batman Level 3
54. Super C Level 4
55. Double Dragon 3 Streets (Level 1)
56. Castlevania 3 Cathedral
57. Duck Tales Underground
58. Mega Man 2 Heat Man
59. Star Tropics Spaceship Combat Theme
60. Life Force Level 2 [6]
61. Jackal Level 1
62. Legendary Wings Level 1
63. Ninja Gaiden 2 Tower of Lahja (Level 3)
64. Legend of Kage Main Theme
65. Kirby's Adventure Dark Room
66. Marble Madness Beginner Race
67. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Medieval Theme [7]
68. Mega Man 2 Flash Man
69. Gradius Level 1
70. Ninja Gaiden Level 1
71. Chip and Dale Challenging Level (numerous contexts)
72. Double Dragon 2 Main Theme
73. Kirby's Adventure Upbeat 3
74. Karate Kid Okinawa (Level 2)
75. Lemmings Any Level [8]
76. Kirby's Adventure Sailing Airship
77. Time Lord Pirate Ship (Level 4)
78. Hector '87 Level 2
79. Mega Man 3 Dr. Wily's Hideout (levels 3 and 4)
80. Castlevania 3 Spooky Ship
81. Bionic Commando Sewer
82. Double Dragon Boss Hideout (Level 4)
83. Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure Main Theme
84. Rainbow Islands Main Theme
85. Kirby's Adventure Mellow 2
86. Zelda 2 Town
87. Double Dragon 2 Ending
88. Shadow of the Ninja Ending
89. Time Lord Stony Gulch (Level 3)
90. Gun.Smoke Victory

Special Notes

[1] It's truly amazing how long this song has been around (over 20 years). From the original arcade game all the way to the latest 3-D variant, it's a catchy theme you just can't get away from.

[2] Unusual pick: I've never actually played "Shadow of the Ninja." But if you listen to a soundtrack, the track is sometimes good enough to put on an album even if you lack a gameplay context.

[3] The "electric guitar solo" in this iconic song turned out quite good, considering how few instrumentation options were available to the sound designers.

[4] In the arcade version, the context did not occur inside a pyramid, but rather during a fight against some sort of tree-monsters.

[5] This track has attracted a lot of attention. It's not my personal fave, but I figured I had to include it because it's a fave of a lot of people.

[6] By now you've probably noticed that when it comes to Life Force, I've pretty much included the whole enchilada. If for no other reason, you should play that game for the music.

[7] It's not EXACTLY Scarborough Fair from Simon and Garfunkel, but it's close.

[8] To be honest, Lemmings deserves a soundtrack in its own right. But I was not impressed with how the NES version's chiptunes turned out. The Atari ST and IBM PC versions have the best renditions.


NES Album 3 Tracks

Sample: Wizards and Warriors 2 Inn
Game Song Context
1. Street Fighter 2010 Surfing Hoverdisks (Planet 5)
2. Crystalis Floating Tower
3. Castlevania Level 2
4. Bump 'n Jump Level 1
5. Faxanadu Title [1]
6. Wizards and Warriors 2 Inn
7. Athena World of Labyrinth
8. Castlevania 2 Forest of Danger
9. Bomberman 2 Item Gotten
10. Street Fighter 2010 Desert (Planet 3)
11. Double Dragon 3 Japan (Level 3)
12. Bionic Commando Enemy Headquarters
13. Crystalis Mount Sabre
14. Castlevania Level 6
15. Ikari Warriors Main Combat Theme
16. Double Dragon 3 Ninja Dojo
17. Guerilla War Level 2
18. Street Fighter 2010 City Skyline (Planet 1)
19. Batman Level 2
20. Extra Mario Bros. World 2 [2]
21. Metal Gear Jungle
22. Battletoads Ice Cave (Level 4)
23. Double Dragon Blue Cave (Level 3)
24. Legendary Wings Level 4
25. Mega Man Exile Crash Man [3]
26. Mighty Final Fight Level 1
27. Vice Project Doom Level 2
28. Nightmare on Elm Street Level 1
29. Castlevania 2 Night
30. Castlevania Level 5
31. Street Fighter 2010 Brawl (Planet 1)
32. Gun.Smoke Level 6
33. Ninja Gaiden Demon
34. Trojan Sewer
35. Final Fantasy 2 Under the Sea Reprise
36. Air Fortress Inside Fortress
37. Double Dragon Level 2
38. Die Hard Main Theme
39. Mighty Final Fight Level 3
40. Street Fighter 2010 City
41. Nightmare on Elm Street Street
42. Extra Mario Bros. Underwater [4]
43. Athena World of Sea (Level 3)
44. Bionic Commando Foreshadowing
45. Shadowgate Main Theme
46. Wizards and Warriors Main Theme
47. Mega Man Ultra Crash Man [5]
48. Gun.Smoke Level 2
49. Athena World of Forest (Level 1)
50. Castlevania 2 Town
51. Star Tropics Village
52. Gyromite Main Theme
53. Crystalis Ocean
54. Legendary Wings Level 5
55. Mega Man Exile Metal Man
56. Faxanadu Mystery
57. Nightmare on Elm Street Level 2
58. Crystalis Pyramid [6]
59. Wizards and Warriors Saved Medieval Peasant Babe
60. Prince of Persia Main Theme
61. Prisoner of War Level 1
62. Bomberman 2 Bonus Stage
63. Ninja Gaiden Mine
64. Skate or Die Downhill Race
65. Crystalis Field
66. Hector '87 Level 3
67. Street Fighter 2010 Underwater
68. Star Tropics C-Island
69. Bubble Bobble Main Theme
70. Street Fighter 2010 Plants
71. Super C Level 2
72. Gyromite Sleepwalking
73. Bomberman 2 Level 1
74. Street Fighter 2010 Title [7]
75. Double Dragon 3 Sacred Stones
76. Trojan Level 2
77. Mega Man Exile Heat Man
78. Thexder Main Theme [8]
79. Kung-Fu Master Main Theme
80. Castlevania Level 3
81. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Highway
82. Skate or Die Pool Joust
83. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Level 2
84. Bomberman 2 Showdown with bad guy
85. Who Framed Roger Rabbit Dabbling in Watercolors, Eddie?
86. Star Tropics Sub-C
87. Crystalis Town [9]
88. Final Fantasy Ending
89. Star Tropics Mica
90. Romance of the Three Kingdoms Main Theme
91. Hector '87 Game Over
92. Street Fighter 2010 Ending
93. Bump 'n Jump Finish Level

Special Notes

[1] I have not played Faxanadu to completion, but others have rated the soundtrack high. On that point, I agree.

[2] You could have played the entire NES library and still not heard this song. That's because this is a music hack from one of the best ROM hacks of Super Mario Bros. of all time. The author is described only as "ATA."

[3] Mega Man Exile is another ROM hack, this time of Mega Man 2.

[4] I would have preferred the original Super Mario Bros. to have this as the underwater track!

[5] My all-time favorite music hack!

[6] Favorite song from the Crystalis soundtrack.

[7] This game, like Life Force, has virtually no track that can't be called excellent.

[8] As much as the theme is catchy, I would not recommend playing the NES version! The IBM PC version is much better. The PC version also features a copy of the likely inspiration for this track: Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."

[9] Once again, few tracks from Crystalis that can't be called excellent.


NES Album 4 Tracks

Sample: Bayou Billy Fighting Stages
Game Song Context
1. Robocop (Gameboy) Level 2 [1]
2. Castlevania 3 Aqueduct
3. Mega Man 6 Plant Man
4. Lock 'n' Chase (Gameboy) Level 1
5. Casino Kid Title
6. Goonies 2 Password Entry
7. Bump 'n Jump Level 2
8. Contra Force Level 2
9. S.C.A.T.
10. Mega Man 5 Wave Man
11. Adventures of Bayou Billy Fighting Stages [2]
12. Mega Man 5 Wily
13. Mega Man 3 Snake Man
14. Mega Man 2 TItle
15. Duck Tales 2 Haunted Ship
16. Crystalis Cave Canals
17. Castlevania 3 Rising through Tower
18. Adventures of Bayou Billy Shooting Gallery
19. Ikari Warriors 2 [3]
20. Code Name Viper Incan Ruins
21. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Tank Battle [4]
22. Silver Surfer Victory
23. Mega Man 3 Needle Man
24. Robocop (Gameboy) Level 1 [5]
25. Mega Man 6 Mr. X
26. Top Gun 2 Level 2
27. Rush 'n Attack Level 1
28. Mega Man 3 Magnet Man
29. Double Dragon Red Cave
30. Battletoads Level 1
31. Wizards and Warriors 2 Level 2-A
32. Castlevania Chorus of Mysteries Level 4-A [6]
33. Contra Waterfall
34. Totally Rad Level 1
35. Mega Man 4 Bright Man
36. Mega Man 4 Wily 2
37. Maniac Mansion Rock Theme
38. Robocop (Gameboy) Title
39. Dick Tracy Patrol
40. Duck Tales 2 Niagra Falls
41. Super Mario Bros. 3 Level 1
42. Link's Awakening (DX) Overworld
43. Solstice Title [7]
44. Mega Man 2 Wood Man
45. Mega Man Exile Wily 4
46. Mega Man 2 Bubble Man
47. Rad Racer Theme 1
48. Top Gun 2 Level 1
49. Gauntlet Main Theme
50. Link's Awakening (DX) Mountains
51. Castlevania Chorus of Mysteries Level 4-B
52. Crystalis Fort Shyron
53. Mega Man 3 Title
54. Mega Man 2 Crash Man
55. Batman Return of the Joker Level 1
56. Mega Man 3 Hard Man
57. Mega Man Exile Wily 3
58. Totally Rad Level 2
59. Wizards and Warriors 2 Level 1-A
60. Batman Returns Level 1
61. Mega Man 3 Air Man
62. Goonies 2 Level 2
63. Lock 'n' Chase (Gameboy) Ending
64. Adventure Island Level 1
65. 3-D World Runner Main Theme
66. Adventures of Lolo 3 Main Puzzle Theme
67. Link's Awakening (DX) Start
68. Maniac Mansion Baroque Theme [8]
69. River City Ransom Park
70. Link's Awakening (DX) Ghost House
71. Solstice Main Theme
72. Solomon's Key Main Theme
73. Wizards and Warriors 3 Hidden Ending? [9]
74. Castlevania 3 Credits
75. Adventures of Bayou Billy Ending
76. Mega Man Bomb Man
77. Legendary Wings Ending
78. Final Fantasy 2 Spooky
79. Castlevania 3 Nightmare Theme (Alucard)
80. Final Fantasy 2 Resolution
81. Totally Rad Ending
82. Legendary Wings Game Over (Continue Possible)

Special Notes

[1] A version of this song has appeared in many of the home computer ports of Robocop made by Ocean, including the Commodore 64. This is from the version on Gameboy.

I hope you don't think I'm "cheating" by putting Gameboy NES tracks in the collection. They are unquestionable chiptunes, and on a "type" of NES, so go figure.

I'm unlikely to post any Super NES or Genesis tracks on this page. Such music sounds a lot different from chiptunes (they no longer sound "chippy" if they employ wave synthesis, or even just FM synthesis).

[2] As horribly hard and flawed as this game is, the music is great. Unusual combination.

[3] It took me a while before I realized what the unusual percussion at the end of the track was a reference to: Athena's triple jump!

[4] Tim Follin is one composer whose works I should have exhibited more often in earlier collections. There are plenty of those in collection #4.

Of all the composers who have had to program chiptunes for the NES, Follin is probably the most inventive in terms of instrumentation.

[5] This theme comes straight from the movie. Few surprises there.

But you might be surprised I completely left out the music from Data East's NES version of Robocop. The arcade music was good (composed by Data East), but the music in their own NES port turned out mediocre.

[6] This music is from a truly excellent ROM hack of Castlevania.

EVERY part of the game was hacked, including graphics, level design, enemy types, boss appearance, boss BEHAVIOR, sound, and music. EVERY song was replaced with a different song!

[7] Was Tim Follin trying to set a record for longest Title theme? This song goes on for nearly 3 minutes!

[8] Unlike most other video game music, this music does not appear to be precisely timed on regular intervals. It's clear the Maniac Mansion soundtrack had not only stellar composers, but good performers as well.

[9] It's just a guess that this might have been intended as the original ending music for the game, since it was the last track in the NSF, and it seems to imply resolution.

And talk about implying resolution! That game's ending was anything but in terms of resolution. You go forward in time, leading the way to what should have been an epic sequel...only for gamers to discover that no sequel would be forthcoming.

Hey, it's not too late...!


NES Album 5 Tracks

Forgive me, folks, for I have sinned. Actually, worse--I have committed a felony. The felony is a total failure to include a single Compile song in any of the previous four collections. This latest album was constructed some four years after the last one, so it took me a while to remember which games I hadn't covered yet. Anyway, this album should serve as my redemption.


Sample: Guardian Legend Fungus Labyrinth
Game Song Context
1. Crash Test Dummies Level 1
2. Super Spy Hunter Level 1
3. Golgo 13 Driving Section
4. Snailiad Amastrida Abyssus [1]
5. Bucky O'Hare Yellow Planet
6. Bio Force Ape Minecart Mash [2]
7. Godzilla Story Intro
8. Zanac Level 2
9. Bucky O'Hare Blue Planet
10. Gyruss 2 Warps To Uranus [3]
11. Guardian Legend Last Labyrinth
12. Gun-Nac Final Stage
13. Godzilla Level 2
14. Battle of Olympus Phthia
15. Golgo 13 Underwater
16. Clash at Demonhead Underworld
17. Journey to Silius Level 3
18. Bucky O'Hare Magma Tanker
19. Super Spy Hunter Level 2
20. Metal Gear: Snake's Revenge Jungle [4]
21. Zanac Level 1
22. Godzilla Level 1
23. Guardian Legend Sea Corridor
24. Gun-Nac Level 2
25. Zanac Title Screen
26. Spelunker Main Cave
27. Bucky O'Hare Green Planet
28. Guardian Legend Fungus Labyrinth
29. Battle of Olympus Pelopennesus
30. Clash at Demonhead Overworld
31. Xexyz Overworld
32. Smash T.V. Main Theme
33. Gyruss Main Theme
34. Bucky O'Hare Escape!
35. Guardian Legend Fast Corridor
36. Bio Force Ape Highrise
37. Journey to Silius Title Screen
38. Godzilla Title Screen
39. Gun-Nac Fire Stage
40. Ninja Gaiden 3 Final Stage
41. Golgo 13: The Mafat Conspiracy Title Screen
42. Battle of Olympus Phygria
43. Guardian Legend Fungus Corridor
44. Journey to Silius Level 2
45. Rolling Thunder Level 1 [5]
46. Eight Eyes Spain Boss
47. Rockin' Kats Warehouse
48. Metal Gear: Snake's Revenge Base
49. Spelunker Title Screen
50. Guardian Legend First Labyrinth
51. Eight Eyes Title Screen
52. Golgo 13: The Mafat Conspiracy Boss
53. Bucky O'Hare Cell
54. Rolling Thunder Level 2
55. Super Spy Hunter Level 3
56. Bucky O'Hare Red Planet
57. Journey to Silius Level 1
58. Gun-Nac Title Screen
59. Zanac Final Victory [6]
60. Battle of Olympus Attica
61. Godzilla Level 3
62. Guardian Legend Main Theme
63. Gun-Nac Slot Machines from Outer Space [7]
64. Snake, Rattle n' Roll Level 1
65. Gun-Nac Level 1
66. Felix the Cat Level 1
67. Joe and Mac Main Theme
68. Dr. Mario Fever
69. Snake, Rattle n' Roll Level 2
70. Tom and Jerry Theme 2
71. Rockin' Kats Street
72. Battle of Olympus Laconia
73. Cruz Puzzle Theme [8]
74. Fire n' Ice Level 3
75. Tom and Jerry Theme 1
76. Guardian Legend Ending
77. Journey to Silius Ending
78. Bucky O'Hare Ending

Special Notes

[1] Technically, Snailiad is not an NES game, but rather a NewGrounds finalist entry back in 2011. I am including the track here because it's that badass. I suggest checking it out; it's a Metroidvania-like game featuring...snails?

[2] Unreleased titles generally don't have jaw-droppingly stellar music. Bio Force Ape is a very welcome exception.

[3] No; this isn't a joke. The game actually shows that before the stage.

[4] The NES Metal Gear games departed significantly from Hideo Kojima's vision, but one thing is definite: you can't knock the music in them.

[5] Unless you live in Japan or got ahold of an unlicensed copy, you might be surprised that Sega had indeed made a fully-working Rolling Thunder port. You would be amazed at how many Sega titles got "unofficial" ports.

[6] I am being very kind, letting you listen to the game victory song here. Zanac is one of the most evil spaceship shooters ever made--prompting some to rage-quit on the first level. And there are twelve levels!

[7] I can't put my finger on the exact date, but some time in the early 1990s, Japanese rail-shooter designers went completely insane and started putting malevolent slot machines and Hello Kitty money banks into their games.

It is anybody's guess if the world is a better place for it.

[8] After having played with NSFs for a long time, I finally tried my hand at creating my own NES chiptune. Here it is.


"How I Did It"

The act of compiling over 400 songs, from different games, from different contexts in each game, and editing and mixing them to perfection, should not be taken lightly.

Procuring the source

My best discovery in the making of these collections was a specialty file format, called an "NSF," or Nintendo Sound File. An NSF is basically a subset of the NES ROM assembly code that generates the sound programming for a NES game.

Most of the NSFs I collected from www.zophar.net, a site devoted to emulation and ROM hacks.

However, there were some games for which I could not acquire an NSF. In these cases, the only way to capture the audio is to play the game in an emulator to the point where the song begins, start recording, wait for as many repetitions as needed, and then stop recording.

It's clearly to the audio mixer's advantage to use NSFs whenever possible. This is because the mixer will not need to worry about issues like the game's sound effects interfering with the recording. It's not possible to avoid combat sounds for some games, especially overhead shooters, so an NSF allows you to do the impossible and capture the track without any background noise. Hector '87 is a prime example.

Audio Capture

Both NSFs and actual gameplay samples used the same emulator for capture: FamiCom Emulator Ultra, better known as FCE Ultra. The program lets you log WAV files for any type of sound output.

Now, despite the fact that the emulator does a lot of the tough work for you, you still need to be patient enough to record so many tracks. That's a test of endurance more than anything else.

Audio Editing

Audacity was the waveform editor of choice here, although it was far from the only option. I generally performed the following tweaks on the recorded WAV files:

  1. Split bulk recordings into individual files
  2. Transform audio into CD-quality format (44,100 Hz 16-bit stereo)
  3. Normalize audio and amplify/attenuate accordingly
  4. Apply fade-ins and fade-outs
  5. Find beats at beginning and end of song; trim to make good segueways between tracks

Of these five tasks, the last one was by far the hardest. It involved having both a good ear for incidental sounds that last a fraction of a second, and a good eye for the equivalence of such sounds as represented in the waveform visualization. One cannot be sloppy here!

Album mixing

This step is possibly the most fun, but it's still demanding. Using WinAmp, I played around with the order of the edited WAV files as a way of identifying the optimal mix order, as well as flagging audio issues that required re-editing in the previous step.

Task #5 of audio editing makes this job simpler, because it's far easier to flow the end of one track into the beginning of another if the beats are synchronized. But you need to listen to each transition, multiple times if necessary, to tell if the desired effect was obtained.

The "no-delay" mixing style I picked for these albums was more challenging than the alternative. The alternative is a long fade-out for each track and a 2-second silence delay before the start of the next, as is common with many albums.

Easter Eggs?!

A final word about NSFs: I was shocked to discover that many games had a type of Easter Egg that could only be found by hacking the ROM image, in the form of unused musical tracks!

Battletoads, Guerilla War, and Wizards and Warriors 3 are but a few examples. The reason these games had hidden tracks? Probably the original commission for music involved a set number of songs with specific themes. Likely the soundtrack, once composed, synthesized, and integrated into the ROM image, was left alone when deciding how to ultimately use the score in the game.

While ROM chips were not cheap back then (each 16-KB multiple would deduct from a game's potential profits), it might have required less in re-architecture costs just to keep hidden tracks where they were.


About Me

Christopher Allen is a software engineer who is insecure about his nerd status, so he made these NES collections as a way of silencing the skeptics.

Here is a different variety of chiptune. ZZT #PLAY songs:

The Hall of Music

I have authored several video games. Try out two classic DOS character-based game remakes here:

ZZT Ultra (2015)
Cruz (2011)

My "Metroid Master" ROM hack:

http://www.angelfire.com/space/debrischris/metroid_master.html

The first computer version of Egyptian RatScrew:

http://www.angelfire.com/space/debrischris/ers.html

My "Top 10 Boss Fights":

http://www.chriskallen.com/aa/top10boss.html

My "file format" explorer, BARfly:

http://www.chriskallen.com/barflypurchase.html

 

This page is copyright 2010 Christopher Allen.