A Word From The Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 Audio Lead

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Hello, I’m Makoto Hosoi, the Audio Lead for Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 and thank you for taking time to read my blog entry about the sound in games – an area I always see as overlooked and under-appreciated! Historically, I think sound had always come second after graphics or visual effects but time is changing and nowadays sound has significantly evolved. Sound teams don’t have any restrictions like we used to. Just look at shows like Gamescom, E3 and TGS – whole presentations are made there now that focus solely on sound and music.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2

Game sound is completely different from movie sound. I think sound games is very important since it needs to give users exhilaration when they press the button with the sound of slashing, hitting, breaking something, jumping, flying and etc… Of course the sound itself is important, but more importantly you need a good sound programmer in the first place to make it happen. For example, in Ninja Gaiden Sigma2 there is complicated sound program when Ryu attacks to enemies. Its an expressive, powerful sound by itself, so we have to be careful that the sound designer and sound programmer team up with very well and work together to ensure it compliments and integrates with the other sounds on screen.

When it comes to creating sounds for weapons, I’ve actually studied real weapons but never touched or used them for any other reasons, promise! I’ve always pay attention to give our fans the best sound they deserve sound. Think about in reality – if a Samurai brings down his sword lightly and slowly, nobody hears it, however a game needs to implement sounds you wouldn’t even consider – from the feeling of the breeze, through to almost imperceptible metallic clanks. All of these sounds are actually artificial, we don’t go out and record the wind, but the result we get from manufacturing sounds make us feel really cool! I always work over and over on our sounds by editing, equalizing and adding more effects and then eventually I end up with a sound good enough for our games. The cool thing is, inspiration comes from anywhere. Even converting sounds on a computer actually creates sound! I have millions of sources but I’m always looking for good quality sounds.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2

It’s really tough to invent unique sounds for our characters, but it’s really fun. It’s really gives a soul to them. Once they have their own sound, they become vivid. For inventive monsters and characters what we can do is to imagine their voice and sound. If a character is a Dragon for example, I imagine like their voice may originate from a large feline sound sample. I create and complete the sound for them based on imagination by learning by mistake. I’ll let you into a secret but there’s a bit in NINJA GAINDEN SIGMA 2 when a character appears out of the shadows. I created that sound from a pig’s oink! Look out for it!

When it comes to the actual music composition, we begin with our PC connected to synthesizer, sampler, effecter etc, but before we start composing, we spend great amounts of time hearing rough outlines of characters, stages from Hayashi-san, playing the game and looking into designs, etc…. Once we finish composing we encode them to data and implement to the game. It’s always challenging but we are enjoying it. The most difficult time for me is when a good sound or arrangement doesn’t find its way to me.

Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2

For a sound engineer I can’t say I’ve been a devoted music fan, which some people may find odd. Actually, I’d never had a special education for music until junior high. However, in hindsight, I was always looking forward to the music class more than my classmates were. I was great at recorder! It was when I entered my high school, that my father bought me a “Walkman” with a tuner as a gift and for the first time, I listened to the stereo sound of FM. I was completely shocked at the sound! Even though I knew it’s JUST a stereo, the idea of this experience in my ears was intense! And from then, I came to listen the radio every day and tapes which my friends had recorded for me. In these days Eurobeat was a very popular genre and listening to all that music composed with synthesizer with mind blowing. This spurred my interesting in electrical sound and music I guess.

After graduating from high school I learned electrical instruments, voice synthesis techniques and how to compose for real. I think those times were very important for me. I listened to a various kinds of music but I liked pop, rocks and movie soundtracks. I’ve given myself over to not only listening music but also looking at live performances of artists at concerts, all of which inspire me and help me – what you are listening to in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2, no matter how small or unimportant, all of it has been considered and thought about by minds obsessed with music and sound! I hope you listen out for some of our sounds, and remember to listen out for the pig!

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17 Comments

  • Great looking game, I’ll get this one!

  • I’m looking forward to Ninja Gaiden as well. I’m also intrigued about the pig lol.

  • “I’ve actually studied real weapons but never touched or used them for any other reasons, promise!”

    yeah, i would say that too ;)

    Nice Blog-Post!

  • Good read, thanks for the info. Can’t wait to play this game. :)

  • A great article, speaking as a musician and a game lover it is a really underrated field sound design, even in films.

  • Interesting read, thanks for taking the time to post it. Just so you know I’m one of perhaps a few that really appreciates the job you guys to in the sound department – for me a games music and sound are just as important as the graphics, and often play a more important role in immersing you in the game. Although that’s easy for me to say having a relatively high-end (by PS3 gamer standards) 7.1 HD AV system.

    It’s the same for Blu-ray movies too, I can never fathom why people are willing to pay so much on a large flashy HD flatscreen, but then proceed to listen to their blu-ray movies through it’s horrible built in stereo speakers!!! For me the move to uncompressed HD sound on blu-ray is far more important, noticeable, and impressive, than the move to a HD picture…

    People are so hung up on the picture they all too often neglect the sound (which is why you can by a massive HD screen at any high street electronics shop, but need a specialist AV retailer to get an equivalent HD AV system).

  • Interesting read Makoto, You clearly enjoy your work and sound/music is definitely an important part of games. I’m sure we’ll enjoy Ninja Gaiden Sigma2 when it’s released.
    Not that it will matter too much as i will probably buy it based on previous Ninja Gaiden games but i’m wondering if there will be a demo?

  • Lot of writing/spelling/gramatical errors

  • Extremely well-written post i must say :)
    enjoyed reading that :)
    and i am one of the few (or are we few…?) who played all the other Ninja Gaiden-games (NG, NG Black, NG Sigma, NG2), and when listening, when paying attention to the sounds, it does indeed sound great :)
    Reminds me of how the Background sounds was used in Silent Hill 2, which was spectacular, so you can easily be proud :)
    and lol, i do not remember an Oink in NG2, but i suppose you added it here in SIgma 2 ?

    Been using quite alot of money recently however, so not sure i can buy this in the realease date, but i will do my best ;)
    but maybe i can hope for a demo in the meantime?

    argh, can’t stop writing, oh noez. *disconnects keyboard*

  • @snoopdop
    Give him a break, when writing that much, it easy to oversee a few mistakes, and as long as you understand it, then what is the problem??
    He could of course have written it all in Japanese though, but i doubt you’d prefer that?! :)

  • I wish they would have patched trophies for the first Ninja Gaiden. It leaves a bitter taste when they don’t offer support and just move on to the next project. I’ll forgive them because it wasn’t a hugely popular title at the time but it still would have improved sales.

    Assassin’s Creed on the other hand, over 3 million copies sold on the PS3 alone and no patch. They can swing for my business when they release their sequel. I hope others follow my example.

  • Awesome post, i really love sound efects and sound desgin in games epsically suvirvival horror games as they tend to be the most creative. I cant wait to listen out for the type of sounds in Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.

    I wonder if there are any sound that compliment the music in this game as well. Im really looking forward to this game, thanks for the brilliant post.

  • Thanks man!

    The sounds are good in the game, especially the sound fx for the izuna drop and when the ultimate technique fully charges!

    Music is so damn good in Ninja Gaiden 1, but Ninja Gaiden 2 wasn’t memorable. But I know Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2 will have badass track like how Sigma did. Hell Denizen for the win! If you remove this track from the Volf’s castle, I’ll go mental!

  • Great post and a very interesting read.

    Sound in games is so imporant imo, the music helps set the mood and adds greatly to the atmosphere. The effects add imo to the realism and help immerse you in combat or whatever else.

    Very underrated field but oh so very important.

    Looking forward to trying the game out

  • Is there a reason why the lead character looks like she has just auditioned for the role of “the gimp” in Pulp Fiction?

    Great blog article though. I used to create sounds/music for video games so I know exactly where you’re coming from, it was a fantastic and challenging environment to work in.

  • This game is going to be awesome!

  • Nice to get some quality original content among the ads and press releases. I also appreciate a good (surround) soundscape, which is fundamental in creating true immersion.

    Do you use foley artists for creating sounds, or do you gather your sounds from existing sources? The reason I’m asking is that I shoot guns, and generally hate the sound of guns in Hollywood movies and games. When I saw Heat, I was struck by the very realistic sounds of the guns. I read a bit about it, and the sound designer created all his sounds from real guns – that’s why they sounds so realistic.

    I wonder how realistic the slicing and dicing sounds in NG are :P

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