There were very few games that my brother and I really played together. When I was 4 and he was 9, there was an understandable experience gap that made it difficult to play most co-op games, and pretty much impossible to play any competitive games (that is, I’d always lose). Maybe it was the overall difficulty leveling the playing field, or maybe it was just the enticing license for a couple of early-’90s youngsters, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Arcade Game was one of the few games we regularly played together during my elementary school years.
For some reason, though, I never thought much about the music of the game at the time. The music of games like Mega Man 2 or Crystalis stuck with me, but I only came to recognize the greatness of the TMNT2 soundtrack when I came back to it as an adult.
And, wow! Konami really knew how to get the most out of those four sound channels! Two squares, a triangle, and…skipping the noise and going straight for the DMC channel? You know, the one used so famously in games like
Ghostbusters Skate or Die to get the “voice” parts, except used here to make the heavy drum sound. Seriously, just listen to that. I mean, are you listening yet? There’s a video right up there to get you started. The full playlist is right over here, but the one up there is a good example of what you’ll be in for.
I mean, there’s so much going on. On the one hand, there’s some incredible rock and roll music. On the other hand, they manage to seamlessly include the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme song motif into nearly every single song in the soundtrack. That sort of branding usually comes off as annoying and unnecessary, but they somehow manage to not just make it work, but make it amazing on its own. As if the NES sound chip mastery wasn’t enough, the composition work in including the license is an entire topic worthy of discussion on its own.
Really, if you haven’t listened to the soundtrack yet, here’s the link again. Why sit around talking about it? Go give it a listen!