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Kenji Yamamoto (composer born 1964)

Kenji Yamamoto (山本 健誌, Yamamoto Kenji, born April 25, 1964) is a Japanese video game musician working for Nintendo, where 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 of their games. He frequently collaborates with fellow composers Minako Hamano and Masaru Tajima.

Kenji Yamamoto
Native name
山本 健誌
Born (1964-04-25) April 25, 1964 (age 55)
GenresVideo game music
Occupation(s)Composer, sound director, musician
InstrumentsPiano, guitar
Years active1987–present
Associated actsMinako Hamano

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 for a world in Metroid Prime into 6 MB of space was crucial in producing a quality aural experience, 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: Corruption 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]

The music from Metroid and other games have been played by ensembles and concerts. 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]


Year Title Role Co-worker(s)
1987 Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! Music Yukio Kaneoka and Akito Nakatsuka
1988 Famicom Wars Music Hirokazu Tanaka
Famicom Tantei Club: Kieta Kōkeisha Music Hirokazu Tanaka
1989 Famicom Tantei Club Part II: Ushiro ni Tatsu Shōjo Music
1990 Radar Mission Music
1994 Super Metroid Music Minako Hamano
1995 Galactic Pinball Director/music[5] Masaru Tajima
1999 Famicom Bunko: Hajimari no Mori Music Kozue Ishikawa
2001 Mobile Golf Supervisor Kenji Miki, Shigeru Miyamoto, Takashi Tezuka, and Koji Kondo
Mario Kart: Super Circuit Sound support
2002 Metroid Prime Music Kouichi Kyuma
Metroid Fusion Sound director
2004 Metroid: Zero Mission Music Minako Hamano
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes Music
2005 Metroid Prime Pinball Music 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 Sound supervisor
Excite Truck Music Masaru Tajima
2007 Metroid Prime 3: Corruption Music Minako Hamano and Masaru Tajima
2008 Super Smash Bros. Brawl Arrangement Various others
2009 Excitebots: Trick Racing Music Masaru Tajima and Shinji Ushiroda
2010 Photo Dojo Sound supervisor
Donkey Kong Country Returns[6] Music 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 and Wii U Arrangement Various others
2015 Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash Sound supervisor Ryoji Yoshitomi and Minako Hamano
2016 Tokyo Mirage Sessions ♯FE Sound support Minako Hamano and Yuichi Ozaki
2017 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Supervisor Various others
Hey! Pikmin Sound progress management Minako Hamano and Yuichi Ozaki
Metroid: Samus Returns Music director
2018 Sushi Striker: The Way of Sushido Sound support Minako Hamano


  1. ^ a b c M4G Staff (2007-10-05). "Interview with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption Sound Team at Retro Studios and Composer Kenji Yamamoto". Music4Games. Archived from the original on 2009-02-28. Retrieved 2008-03-19.
  2. ^ a b Fran Mirabella III (2002-11-11). "Metroid Prime". IGN. Retrieved 2008-02-27.
  3. ^ "GameAxis Unwired, No. 46" (Digitized online by Google Books). July 2007. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. ^ A Blast From The Past: Metroid Prime 3 With Kenji Yamamoto and Retro Studios Original Sound Version
  5. ^ "Galactic Pinball". Planet Virtual Boy. Archived from the original on June 19, 2017. Retrieved 2019-08-20.
  6. ^ E3 2010: Kensuke Tanabe and the Metroid Palm Tree IGN June 17, 2010
  7. ^ Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Credit Information GameFAQs

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