When we think back on our fondest gaming memories, more often than not we’ll remember the music that would get stuck in our heads for days and flesh out the moments that made these memories so strong in the first place. As odd as it may sound, what we may not associate these music pieces with initially are their composers.
There are too many incredible composers to mention, but I want to highlight three every gamer should be aware of.
- Koji Kondo
Let’s get the most obvious musician out of the way first. Kondo is widely considered a master of his craft as well as a legend in the industry. His resume includes countless music arrangements for Super Mario Brothers, The Legend of Zelda, and the Star Fox series. In a 2007 interview with IGN.com, Kondo was quoted as saying, “The ultimate goal for me is making music, or at least one of the main goals for me, is to create memorable melodies. That goal is there regardless of the tools we have.” I would imagine that Kondo’s lifetime achievement award he received in 2007 from the Game Audio Network Guild is indicative of him achieving that goal.
- Junichi Masuda
Even if you’ve been trying to “catch ‘em all” since 1996, I would argue the real Pokémon master is Junichi Masuda. Masuda has been composing music for the Pokémon series since the beginning and has been directly involved in the music for every main title. Every cave you ventured into, every gym leader you fought and every 8-bit tune in between was scored by Masuda and his team. If being the main composer on the series at Game Freak since 1989 wasn’t enough, Masuda also is a game designer and oversees development on new features, game scenarios and character design. His most recent role is in the newly announced Pokémon GO game for iOS and Android that is slated for release in 2016.
- Yoko Shimomura
The final mention goes out to the highly acclaimed Yoko Shimomura. Shimomura has a diverse resume of music on a variety of different titles rather than from any one series. Shimomura began her career at Capcom and is responsible for the majority of tracks from Street Fighter II. After leaving Capcom, Shimomura arranged the music for Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars, which boosted her popularity. Shimomura later went on to work at Square Enix, where she was tasked with arranging music for the wildly popular Kingdom Hearts Series. She currently is working on the music for Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV. These are just a few examples of the work Shimomura has done, and she has had one of the most successful careers in the industry.
There are many more talented artists who have composed fantastic game music. I would encourage you to look into the people responsible for your favorite tracks.