Koji Kondo

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Koji Kondo
近藤 浩治
Kondo in 2015
Kondo in 2015
Background information
Born (1961-08-13) August 13, 1961 (age 59)
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
  • Composer
  • pianist
  • sound designer
  • sound director
Years active1983–present
Associated acts

Koji Kondo (Japanese: 近藤 浩治, Hepburn: Kondō Kōji, born August 13, 1961) is a Japanese music composer, pianist, and music director who works for the video game company Nintendo. He is best known for his involvement in numerous contributions in the Mario and The Legend of Zelda series of video games, among others produced by the company. Kondo was hired by Nintendo in 1984, becoming the first person hired by them to specialize in musical composition for video games. Shortly after, Kondo was assigned as the sound designer on the 1985 game Super Mario Bros. His work on the game, especially the overworld musical theme, has often been cited as among the most memorable in video game history.


Early life[edit]

Kondo was born in Nagoya, Japan, on August 13, 1961.[1] He began taking lessons on 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.[2] Kondo studied at the Art Planning Department of Osaka University of Arts,[3] but was never classically trained or academically dedicated to music.

With a love of arcade video games such as Space Invaders and the early Donkey Kong series, he said video games were the only place where he could find the kind of sound creation that he was looking for. He gained some experience in composing and arranging pieces, using the piano, and a computer by programming sounds in BASIC.[4]


Kondo at the Game Developers Conference 2007

In 1984, during Kondo's senior year, Nintendo sent his university a message recruiting for music composition and sound programming. He successfully applied for the job without requiring any demo tapes.[2] He recalls, "I found my way to Nintendo by looking at the school's job placement board. You're supposed to apply to many different companies, but I saw the Nintendo ad, and had a love of making synthesizers, and loved games, and thought – that's the place for me. I interviewed with one company, Nintendo, and that's where I've been ever since."[4] Kondo is the third person hired by Nintendo to create music and sound effects for its games, joining Hirokazu Tanaka and Yukio Kaneoka. However, he is the first at Nintendo to actually specialize in musical composition.[5]

Even before officially joining Nintendo, his first product is the audio for Nintendo's arcade game Punch-Out!! (1984).[5] By 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 since its 1983 launch, Kondo was assigned to compose music for the console's subsequent games at Nintendo's new development team, Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development (EAD). His second Nintendo product is the instruction manual on how to program Japanese popular music into the Famicom using the peripheral Family BASIC.[4] To conclude his first year at Nintendo, he created some of the music of Devil World, alongside Akito Nakatsuka.[2] In 1985, Nintendo started marketing the Famicom abroad as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to capitalize on the 1983 video game crash that had devastated Atari, Inc. and other companies.[2] He composed the music for the hit releases Super Mario Bros. (1985)[6] and The Legend of Zelda (1986),[7] of which 60 million copies were sold in total and which established some of the most well-known melodies in the video game industry.[2]

Super Mario Bros., for many years the best-selling video game of all time for a single platform, is 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 the most well-known video game score in history. The main theme is iconic in popular culture and has been featured in more than 50 concerts,[2] been a best-selling ringtone,[8] and been remixed or sampled by various musicians.[2] 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. After the success of The Legend of Zelda, he provided the score for two Japanese-exclusive games, The Mysterious Murasame Castle (1986) and Shin Onigashima (1987). He created the soundtrack to Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic (1987),[2] which was later rebranded outside Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2 in 1988.[9][10]

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, Yoshi's Island.[2] Until the early 2000s, Kondo would usually write all compositions by himself on a project, with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time's being the last one Kondo worked on alone.[11] Since then, he has been collaborating with other staff members at Nintendo, advising and supervising music created by others, as well as providing additional compositions for games, including Super Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword and Super Mario 3D World.[12][13][14] He also served as the sound director and lead composer of Super Mario Maker and its sequel, Super Mario Maker 2.[15][16][17]


Kondo attended the world premiere of Play! A Video Game Symphony at the Rosemont Theater in Rosemont, Illinois in May 2006, where his music from the Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda series was performed by a full symphony orchestra.[citation needed] He also attended and performed in a series of three concerts celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda series in late 2011. He performed piano with the American rock band Imagine Dragons live at The Game Awards 2014 ceremony in December 2014.[18]

Musical style and influences[edit]

Kondo's music for Super Mario Bros. was designed around the feeling of motion that mirrors the player's physical experience.[19] This followed the philosophy of series creator and designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, who demanded that audio for the game be made "with substance" and are synchronized with elements of the game.[20][21] As a result, Kondo based a number of the score around genres that are primary used for dancing, such as Latin music and the waltz.[22][23][24][25]

In the first The Legend of Zelda, Kondo juxtaposes the game's overworld theme with the theme that plays in dungeons. Kondo remarked on the importance of projecting distinct characters through music, so that players know almost immediately where they are within the game.[26] Kondo used this contrast in other games he worked on, including Super Mario Bros.[27]


Music and sound design[edit]

All works below were composed solely by Kondo, unless otherwise noted. Some other non-musical roles are included, such as sound effects and programming.
Year Game Notes
1983 Punch-Out!![28]
1984 Golf
Family BASIC Programming
Devil World Along with Akito Nakatsuka
1985 Soccer
Arm Wrestling
Kung Fu Sound effects[29]
Super Mario Bros.
1986 The Legend of Zelda
The Mysterious Murasame Castle
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
1987 Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic
Shin Onigashima
1988 Super Mario Bros. 2
Super Mario Bros. 3
1990 Super Mario World
Pilotwings Programming. Also composed the "Helicopter Theme".[30][31]
1991 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past
1993 Star Fox Sound effects
1995 Yoshi's Island
1996 Super Mario 64
1997 Star Fox 64 Along with Hajime Wakai
1998 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
2000 The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask Along with Toru Minegishi
2002 Super Mario Sunshine Along with Shinobu Tanaka
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker Along with Kenta Nagata, Hajime Wakai, and Toru Minegishi
2004 The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures Along with Asuka Ohta
2006 New Super Mario Bros. Composed the "Overworld Theme"
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess Along with Toru Minegishi and Asuka Ohta
2007 Super Mario Galaxy Along with Mahito Yokota
2008 Super Smash Bros. Brawl Musical arrangements
2010 Super Mario Galaxy 2 Along with Mahito Yokota and Ryo Nagamatsu
2011 The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Composed the "Prologue" theme
2013 Super Mario 3D World Along with Mahito Yokota, Toru Minegishi, and Yasuaki Iwata
2014 Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Musical arrangements
2015 Super Mario Maker Along with Naoto Kubo and Asuka Hayazaki
2016 The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD Along with Toru Minegishi and Asuka Ohta
2017 Super Mario Odyssey Along with Shiho Fujii and Naoto Kubo
2018 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Musical arrangements
2019 Super Mario Maker 2 Along with Atsuko Asahi, Toru Minegishi and Sayoko Doi

Supporting roles[edit]

All works listed below credit Kondo in a supporting role, such as an advisor or supervisor.
Year Game
1993 Super Mario All-Stars
1998 Mario Party
1999 Mario Golf
Mario Party 2
2000 Mario Tennis
Mario Party 3
2001 Mobile Golf
Mario Kart Super Circuit
2002 Mario Party 4
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past & Four Swords
2003 Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour
Mario Party 5
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Donkey Konga
2004 Mario vs. Donkey Kong
Mario Power Tennis
The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap
Mario Party 6
Yoshi's Universal Gravitation
2005 Mario Party Advance
Mario Superstar Baseball
Mario Tennis: Power Tour
Mario Party 7
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
2006 Mario Hoops 3-on-3
Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis
Wii Sports
Wii Play
2007 Mario Party 8
DK Jungle Climber
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games
Mario Party DS
2008 Wii Music
Mario Super Sluggers
2009 Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again!
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games
New Super Mario Bros. Wii
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks
2010 Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem!
Mario Sports Mix
2011 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games
Fortune Street
2012 Mario Party 9
Mario Tennis Open
New Super Mario Bros. 2
New Super Mario Bros. U
Paper Mario: Sticker Star
2013 Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move
New Super Luigi U
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
Wii Party U
Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
Mario Party: Island Tour
2014 Mario Golf: World Tour
2015 The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars
Mario Party 10
Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam
2016 Mini Mario & Friends: Amiibo Challenge
Star Fox Zero
Star Fox Guard
Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Mario Party: Star Rush
Paper Mario: Color Splash
2017 Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions
Mario Party: The Top 100
2018 Mario Tennis Aces
Super Mario Party
Starlink: Battle for Atlas
2019 Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
2020 Paper Mario: The Origami King

Awards and honors[edit]

Year Nominee / work Award Result
2011 Super Mario Galaxy 2 British Academy Games Awards (Best Original Music)[32] Nominated
2014 Super Mario 3D World British Academy Games Awards (Best Original Music)[33] Nominated
Video Game Music Online (Best Soundtrack – Retro / Remixed)[34] Nominated


  1. ^ "THE LEGEND OF ZELDA -OCARINA OF TIME- / Re-Arranged Album p.3". VGMdb. Retrieved May 22, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Chris Greening. "Koji Kondo Profile". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  3. ^ "Mario and Zelda composer Koji Kondo shares all at GDC '07". Music4Games. January 19, 2007. Archived from the original on November 10, 2007. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  4. ^ a b c Kondo, Koji (March 11, 2007). "VGL: Koji Kondo". Wired (Interview). Interviewed by Chris Kohler. Retrieved July 25, 2019.
  5. ^ a b Otero, Jose. "A Music Trivia Tour with Nintendo's Koji Kondo". IGN. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  6. ^ "Super Mario Bros. Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  7. ^ "The Legend of Zelda Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  8. ^ Pearce, James Quintana (January 4, 2007). "Top Selling Ringtones In US For 2006". mocoNews. Archived from the original on October 8, 2011. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  9. ^ McLaughlin, Rus (November 8, 2007). "IGN Presents The History of Super Mario Bros". IGN. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  10. ^ "Super Mario Bros. 2 Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  11. ^ Kohler, Chris (March 15, 2007). "Behind the Mario Maestro's Music". Wired. Condé Nast Digital. Archived from the original on February 13, 2011. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  12. ^ Super Mario Galaxy Original Sound Track Platinum Version (Media notes). Nintendo. 2008.
  13. ^ Gifford, Kevin (February 24, 2010). "How Mario Music Gets Made". 1UP.com. UGO Entertainment, Inc. Archived from the original on September 29, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Otero, Jose. "How Mario Maker Mixes Music With Level Creation". IGN. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  16. ^ "Nintendo Minute -- Chatting with Koji Kondo". YouTube. Nintendo.
  17. ^ Bankhurst, Adam. "Super Mario Maker 2 Features Story Mode, Online Multiplayer, Co-Op Creation Mode". IGN. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  18. ^ James, Dean. "Imagine Dragons And Koji Kondo Celebrate Majora's Mask At The Game Awards 2014". attackofthefanboy.com. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  19. ^ Schartmann, Andrew (2015). Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 59–61. ISBN 978-1-62892-853-2.
  20. ^ Schartmann, Andrew (2015). Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-62892-853-2.
  21. ^ Schartmann, Andrew (2015). Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. p. 114. ISBN 978-1-62892-853-2.
  22. ^ Masahiro Sakurai (January 23, 2008). "Super Mario Bros.: Ground Theme". Smash Bros. Dojo!!. Nintendo, HAL Laboratory, Inc. Retrieved September 12, 2010.
  23. ^ Brophy-Warren, Jamin (October 24, 2008). "A New Game for Super Mario's maestro". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 13, 2009.
  24. ^ Laroche, Guillaume (2012). "Analyzing Musical Mario-Media: Variations in the Music of Super Mario Video Games." Order No. MR84768, McGill University (Canada), p. 58.
  25. ^ "Inside Zelda Part 4: Natural Rhythms of Hyrule". Nintendo Power. Nintendo of America, Inc. (195). September 2005. Archived from the original on August 11, 2014.
  26. ^ Schartmann, Andrew (2015). Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 64–66. ISBN 978-1-62892-853-2.
  27. ^ Schartmann, Andrew (2015). Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-62892-853-2.
  28. ^ "Video Games Daily | Nintendo Interview: Koji Kondo, May 2007". Archive.videogamesdaily.com. May 10, 2007. Archived from the original on October 7, 2013. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  29. ^ "Iwata Asks". Iwataasks.nintendo.com. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  30. ^ Greening, Chris; Harris, Dave (March 28, 2011). "Soyo Oka Interview: The Comeback of Super Mario Kart's Composer". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
  31. ^ Otero, Jose. "A Music Trivia Tour with Nintendo's Koji Kondo". IGN. Retrieved February 13, 2015.
  32. ^ "2011 Winners & Nominees". bafta.org. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  33. ^ "Games in 2014". bafta.org. Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  34. ^ Greening, Chris. "Annual Game Music Awards 2013 Nominations". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved July 13, 2015.

External links[edit]