Kenji Yamamoto (composer born 1964)

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For other people named Kenji Yamamoto, see Kenji Yamamoto (disambiguation).

Kenji Yamamoto (山本 健誌 Yamamoto Kenji?) is a Japanese video game musician working for Nintendo. He was born on April 25, 1964. He is notable for composing music in many titles of the Metroid series, mainly Super Metroid and the Prime trilogy. Yamamoto also plays a role as a music director at Nintendo, overseeing the audio for several Nintendo games. He frequently collaborates with fellow composers Minako Hamano and Masaru Tajima.

In development of Super Metroid, Yamamoto came up with some of the game's themes by humming them to himself while riding his motorcycle to work. He was asked to compose the music for Metroid Prime to reinforce the series' continuity.[1] Metroid Prime's Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound was mixed by a member of Dolby Digital.[2] Developers from Retro Studios noted how the process of fitting all the sound effects and music for Metroid Prime in 6 MB of space was crucial in producing a quality soundtrack, as each sound had to be of very high quality to be included.[1] Yamamoto utilizes heavy drums, piano, voiced chants, clangs of pipes, and electric guitar.[2] Metroid Prime 3 took advantage of the increase in the amount of RAM that took place when the series switched from the GameCube to the Wii; this allowed for higher quality audio samples to be used and thus a better overall audio quality.[1] Yamamoto, who composed the music to Super Metroid and the Prime trilogy, copied the musical design of the original Metroid in Metroid Prime 3, by keeping the music and themes dark and scary until the very end, when uplifting music is played during the credits.[1]

The music from Metroid and other games has been played by ensembles including Jenova and Minibosses. An orchestral arrangement of his music is included in PLAY! A Video Game Symphony that toured the United States and Europe and made its Asian debut at the 2007 Singapore Arts Festival.[3]

In an interview with Music4Games, Yamamoto detailed his experience working on the Metroid Prime trilogy. He described his thoughts on the inclusion of themes from Super Metroid as well as his composition process and sources of inspiration. He intends to continue working on the Metroid series into the future.[4]


Video games
Year Title Role Co-worker(s)
1987 Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! Composition Yukio Kaneoka and Akito Nakatsuka
1988 Famicom Wars Composition Hirokazu Tanaka
Famicom Tantei Club: Kieta Kōkeisha Sound director/composition Hirokazu Tanaka
1989 Famicom Tantei Club Part II: Ushiro ni Tatsu Shōjo Composition/arrangement
1990 Radar Mission Composition[5]
1994 Super Metroid Composition/sound effects Minako Hamano
1995 Galactic Pinball Director/composition Masaru Tajima
1999 Famicom Bunko: Hajimari no Mori Composition Kozue Ishikawa
2001 Mobile Golf Supervisor Kenji Miki, Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka, and Koji Kondo
Mario Kart: Super Circuit Sound support
2002 Metroid Prime Composition/arrangement Kouichi Kyuma
Metroid Fusion Sound director
2004 Metroid: Zero Mission Composition/arrangement Minako Hamano
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes Composition/arrangement
2005 Metroid Prime Pinball Composition/arrangement Masaru Tajima
Brain Age 2: More Training in Minutes a Day! Sound director
2006 English Training: Have Fun Improving Your Skills! Sound director
Metroid Prime Hunters Music supervisor
Excite Truck Composition/arrangement Masaru Tajima
2007 Metroid Prime 3: Corruption Composition/arrangement Minako Hamano, and Masaru Tajima
2008 Super Smash Bros. Brawl Arrangement Various others
2009 Excitebots: Trick Racing Composition/arrangement Masaru Tajima and Shinji Ushiroda
2010 Photo Dojo Sound supervisor
Donkey Kong Country Returns[6] Composition/arrangement Minako Hamano, Masaru Tajima, Shinji Ushiroda, and Daisuke Matsuoka
2011 Rhythm Heaven Fever Sound support Shinnosuke Kobayashi, Akito Nakatsuka, and Lawrence Schwedler
Pilotwings Resort Music supervisor
Sakura Samurai: Art of the Sword Music director
2012 Kiki Trick Sound supervisor
Brain Age: Concentration Training Sound supervisor
2013 Monster Manor Sound director
Mii Force Sound director
Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D Sound supervisor
2014 Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze[7] Music supervisor
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS Supervisor Various others
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U Arrangement Various others
2016 Metroid Prime: Federation Force Composition/arrangement


  • [1]: Credited works (in Japanese)
  • [2]: Metroid Fusion staff credits (Archived from the original on 2006-05-18)


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