Koji Kondo in 2006
August 13, 1961 |
Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Japan
|Occupation(s)||Composer, sound designer, sound programmer|
|Instruments||Piano, electronic organ|
|Associated acts||Shigeru Miyamoto|
Koji Kondo (近藤浩治 Kondō Kōji?, born August 13, 1961) is a Japanese video game composer and sound director who has been employed at Nintendo since 1983. He is best known for his involvement in numerous titles in the Mario and The Legend of Zelda series.
Koji Kondo was born in Nagoya, Japan, on August 13, 1961. He began taking lessons in the electronic organ from the age of five. He improved his skills in the instrument in a cover band that played jazz and rock music. Kondo studied at the Art Planning Department of Osaka University of Arts, but was never classically trained or particularly dedicated to music. However, he gained some experience in composing and arranging pieces, using both the piano and a computer to assist him. During his senior year, Nintendo sent a recruitment message to his university stating that they were interested in hiring people dedicated to composition and sound programming. An LCD and arcade gamer, Kondo successfully applied for the job in 1983 without requiring any demo tapes.
Kondo was the third person hired by Nintendo to create music and sound effects for their games, joining Hirokazu Tanaka and Yukio Kaneoka. However, he was the first at Nintendo to actually specialize in musical composition. The first game he worked on was the arcade game Punch-Out!!, although it was before he had officially joined Nintendo. Despite creating mostly jingles and sound effects, he was able to overcome the challenges of early arcade sound hardware. As the Famicom had become highly popular in Japan, Kondo was assigned to compose music for the console's subsequent games at Nintendo's new development team, Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development (EAD). Kondo also wrote an instruction manual on how to program Japanese popular music into the Famicom using the peripheral Family BASIC. To conclude his first year at Nintendo, he created the music to Devil World alongside Akito Nakatsuka. In 1985, Nintendo started marketing the Famicom abroad under the name the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to capitalize on the 1983 video game crash that devastated Atari, Inc. He composed the music for the hit releases Super Mario Bros. (1985) and The Legend of Zelda (1986) which helped the system to sell 60 million copies in total and established some of the most well-known melodies in the video game industry.
Super Mario Bros., for many years the best-selling video game of all time, was Kondo's first major score. The game's melodies were created with the intention that short segments of music could be endlessly repeated during the same gameplay without causing boredom. Kondo's soundtrack to Super Mario Bros. gained worldwide recognition, and is to this day the most well-known video game score. The main theme is iconic in popular culture and has been featured in over 50 concerts, been a best-selling ringtone, and been remixed or sampled by various musicians. Kondo's work on The Legend of Zelda scores has also become highly recognized. He produced four main pieces of background music for the first installment of the series; the overworld theme has become comparable in popularity with the Super Mario Bros. main theme. Following the success of The Legend of Zelda, he provided the score for two Japanese-exclusive titles, The Mysterious Murasame Castle (1986) and Shin Onigashima (1987). He also created the soundtrack to Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic (1987), which was later rebranded outside of Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2 in 1988.
Kondo returned to the Super Mario series to produce the scores to Super Mario Bros. 3 (1988) and the SNES launch title Super Mario World (1990). Koichi Sugiyama directed a jazz arrangement album of Super Mario World 's music and oversaw its performance at the first Orchestral Game Music Concert in 1991. After finishing the soundtrack to Super Mario World, Kondo was in charge of the sound programming for Pilotwings (1990), while also composing the "Helicopter Theme" for it, and created the sound effects for Star Fox (1993). In 1995, he composed for the sequel to Super Mario World, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island. Until the Nintendo 64 era, Kondo would usually write all compositions by himself on a project, ending with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 1998. Since then, he has been collaborating with other staff members at Nintendo EAD, advising and supervising music created by others, as well as providing additional compositions for games such as Super Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and Super Mario 3D World. In 2015, he was the sound director and composer of Super Mario Maker, making it the first time he's been the sole composer of a game since Ocarina of Time in 1998.
Kondo attended the world premiere of Play! A Video Game Symphony at the Rosemont Theater in Rosemont, Illinois, in May 2006. His music from the Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda series was performed by a full symphony orchestra. This event drew nearly four thousand attendees. He also attended and performed in a series of three concerts celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda series in late 2011. On December 5, 2014, he performed live piano with the American rock band Imagine Dragons at the 2014 The Game Awards.
Musical style and influences
The "Super Mario Bros. theme" was featured in Billboard Magazine 's Hot Ringtones for 112 consecutive weeks. Kondo cites rock bands Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake & Palmer as major musical influences. He has also cited as influences the works of the Russian romantic composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, particularly his four piano concertos.
|Family BASIC||Sound programming|
|Devil World||Composition/sound effects||Akito Nakatsuka|
|Arm Wrestling||Composition/sound effects|
|Kung Fu||Sound effects|
|Super Mario Bros.||Composition/sound effects|
|1986||The Legend of Zelda||Composition/sound effects|
|The Mysterious Murasame Castle||Composition/sound effects|
|Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels||Composition/sound effects|
|1987||Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic||Composition/sound effects|
|1988||Super Mario Bros. 2||Composition/sound effects|
|Super Mario Bros. 3||Composition/sound effects|
|1990||Super Mario World||Composition/arrangement|
|1991||The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past||Composition/arrangement|
|1993||Star Fox||Sound effects|
|Super Mario All-Stars||Sound supervisor|
|1995||Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island||Composition/arrangement|
|1996||Super Mario 64||Composition/arrangement|
|1997||Star Fox 64||Composition/arrangement||Hajime Wakai|
|1998||The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time||Composition/arrangement|
|Mario Party||Sound support||Taro Bando and Yoji Inagaki|
|1999||Mario Golf||Supervisor||Kenji Miki, Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka, Haruki Kodera,
and Toru Takamatsu
|Mario Party 2||Sound support|
|2000||The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask||Composition/arrangement||Toru Minegishi|
|Mario Tennis||Supervisor||Shigeru Miyamoto and Takashi Tezuka|
|Mario Party 3||Sound support|
|2001||Mobile Golf||Supervisor||Kenji Miki, Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka,
and Kenji Yamamoto
|Mario Kart Super Circuit||Supervisor||Hiroyuki Kimura, Tadashi Sugiyama, Hideki Konno,
and Takashi Tezuka
|2002||Super Mario Sunshine||Composition/arrangement||Shinobu Tanaka|
|Mario Party 4||Sound support|
|The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords||Sound support|
|The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker||Composition/arrangement||Kenta Nagata, Hajime Wakai, and Toru Minegishi|
|2003||Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour||Sound support|
|Mario Party 5||Sound support|
|Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga||Sound support|
|Donkey Konga||Sound support||Toru Minegishi|
|2004||The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventure||Composition||Asuka Ohta|
|Mario vs. Donkey Kong||Advisor||Tadashi Sugiyama and Shinya Takahashi|
|Mario Power Tennis||Sound support|
|The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap||Sound advisor|
|Mario Party 6||Sound support|
|Yoshi Topsy-Turvy||Sound support|
|2005||Mario Party Advance||Sound support|
|Mario Superstar Baseball||Sound support||Taro Bando|
|Mario Tennis: Power Tour||Sound support|
|Mario Party 7||Sound support|
|Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time||Sound support|
|2006||New Super Mario Bros.||Composition||Asuka Ohta and Hajime Wakai|
|Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis||Sound supervisor|
|The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess||Composition||Toru Minegishi and Asuka Ohta|
|Wii Sports||Sound advisor|
|Wii Play||Sound advisor|
|2007||Mario Party 8||Sound support|
|DK Jungle Climber||Sound supervisor|
|Super Mario Galaxy||Composition||Mahito Yokota|
|Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games||Sound supervisor||Taro Bando|
|Mario Party DS||Sound support||Keita Hoshi, Shohei Bando, and Shiho Yonemoto|
|2008||Super Smash Bros. Brawl||Arrangement||Various others|
|Mario Super Sluggers||Sound support||Taro Bando, Akito Nakatsuka, and Tomokazu Abe|
|Wii Music||Sound support||Yoji Inagaki|
|2009||Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story||Sound support|
|Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again!||Music supervisor|
|Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games||Sound supervisor||Taro Bando|
|New Super Mario Bros. Wii||Sound advisor|
|The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks||Composition||Toru Minegishi, Manaka Tominaga, and Asuka Ohta|
|2010||Super Mario Galaxy 2||Composition||Mahito Yokota and Ryo Nagamatsu|
|Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!||Music supervisor|
|Mario Sports Mix||Sound supervisor|
|2011||The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D||Music supervisor|
|Star Fox 64 3D||Composition (reused)||Hajime Wakai and Satomi Terui|
|The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition||Sound supervisor||Yoji Inagaki|
|Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games||Sound supervisor||Taro Bando|
|The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword||Composition
|Fortune Street||Sound supervisor|
|2012||Mario Party 9||Sound supervisor|
|Mario Tennis Open||Sound supervisor|
|New Super Mario Bros. 2||Sound advisor||Yoji Inagaki|
|New Super Mario Bros. U||Sound advisor|
|Paper Mario: Sticker Star||Sound advisor|
|2013||Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon||Sound supervisor||Kazumi Totaka and Yoji Inagaki|
|Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move||Music supervisor|
|New Super Luigi U||Sound supervisor|
|Mario & Luigi: Dream Team||Sound supervisor|
|The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD||Composition (reused)||Kenta Nagata, Hajime Wakai, and Toru Minegishi|
|Wii Party U||Music supervisor|
|Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games||Sound supervisor|
|Super Mario 3D World||Composition||Mahito Yokota, Toru Minegishi, and Yasuaki Iwata|
|Mario Party: Island Tour||Sound supervisor|
|2014||Mario Golf: World Tour||Sound supervisor|
|Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U||Supervisor/arrangement||Various others|
|2015||The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D||Sound supervisor||Yoji Inagaki|
|Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars||Music supervisor|
|Mario Party 10||Sound supervisor|
|Super Mario Maker||Composition/arrangement|
|2016||The Legend of Zelda Wii U||Supervisor|
Awards and honors
|Year||Recipient / Nominated work||Award||Result|
|2011||Super Mario Galaxy 2||Best Original Music||Nominated|
|2014||Super Mario 3D World||Best Original Music||Nominated|
Game Music Online
|Year||Recipient / Nominated work||Award||Result|
|2014||Super Mario 3D World||Best Soundtrack – Retro / Remixed||Nominated|
- "THE LEGEND OF ZELDA -OCARINA OF TIME- / Re-Arranged Album p.3". VGMdb. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
- Chris Greening. "Koji Kondo Profile". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved 2014-06-20.
- "Mario and Zelda composer Koji Kondo shares all at GDC '07". Music4Games. 2007-01-19. Archived from the original on 2007-11-10. Retrieved 2009-09-18.
- Otero, Jose. "A Music Trivia Tour with Nintendo's Koji Kondo". IGN. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
- "Super Mario Bros. Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved 2009-09-18.
- "The Legend of Zelda Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved 2009-09-18.
- Pearce, James Quintana (2007-01-04). "Top Selling Ringtones In US For 2006". mocoNews. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
- McLaughlin, Rus (2007-11-08). "IGN Presents The History of Super Mario Bros.". IGN. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
- "Super Mario Bros. 2 Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved 2009-09-21.
- Kohler, Chris (2007-03-15). "Behind the Mario Maestro's Music". Wired. Condé Nast Digital. Archived from the original on 2011-02-13. Retrieved 2011-02-13.
- Super Mario Galaxy Original Sound Track Platinum Version (Media notes). Nintendo Co., Ltd. 2008.
- Gifford, Kevin (2010-02-24). "How Mario Music Gets Made". 1UP.com. UGO Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved 2010-12-28.
- Napolitano, Jayson (June 21, 2011). "Koji Kondo Talks Ocarina of Time, Gives Details on Skyward Sword". Original Sound Version. Archived from the original on June 22, 2011. Retrieved June 22, 2011.
- Otero, Jose. "How Mario Maker Mixes Music With Level Creation". IGN. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
- James, Dean. "Imagine Dragons And Koji Kondo Celebrate Majora’s Mask At The Game Awards 2014". attackofthefanboy.com. Retrieved 24 March 2015.
- "Mario ringtone marks over two years on charts. Who knew?". Joystiq. 2006-12-07. Retrieved 2014-05-22.
- "Inside Zelda Part 4: Natural Rhythms of Hyrule". Nintendo Power (Nintendo of America, Inc.) (195). September 2005.
- "[NC UK] Koji Kondo Interview".
- "Video Games Daily | Nintendo Interview: Koji Kondo, May 2007". Archive.videogamesdaily.com. 2007-05-10. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
- "Iwata Asks". Iwataasks.nintendo.com. Retrieved 2013-08-17.
- Greening, Chris; Harris, Dave (March 28, 2011). "Soyo Oka Interview: The Comeback of Super Mario Kart’s Composer". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved 2015-02-12.
- Otero, Jose. "A Music Trivia Tour with Nintendo's Koji Kondo". IGN. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
- Koji Kondo at the Internet Movie Database
- Game | Life Video Games Live 2007 Interview
- Advanced Media Network Video Games Live 2007 Interview
- IGN GDC 2007 Interview
- Interview with Music4Games
- Kelly, Piaras (26 March 2004). "Inside Nintendo: Koji Kondo". Archived from the original on 2007-10-14.. Accessed 17 February 2006.
- MacDonalad, Mark (3 May 2006). "Koji Kondo Interview, Part 1". 1UP.com. Accessed 17 February 2006.
- Van Zelfden, N. Evan (30 May 2006). "Play! kicks off world tour in Chicago. GameSpot.com. Accessed 17 June 2006.
- The Legend of Zelda: Super Best Collection interview at BerriBlue