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Koji Kondo (近藤 浩治, Kondō Kōji, born August 13, 1961) is a Japanese music composer, pianist, and sound 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 originally hired by Nintendo in 1984, becoming the first person hired by them to specialize in musical composition for games. Shortly after, Kondo was assigned as the sound designer on the 1985 game Super Mario Bros. His sound design for the game, more specifically the musical theme for the overworld, have often been cited as among the most memorable in video games.

Koji Kondo
Kōji Kondō 2015 (cropped).jpg
Kondo in 2015
Background information
Native name
近藤 浩治
Born (1961-08-13) August 13, 1961 (age 57)
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
  • Composer
  • pianist
  • sound designer
  • sound director
Years active1983–present
Associated acts



Early lifeEdit

Kondo was born in Nagoya, Japan, on August 13, 1961.[1] 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.[2] Kondo studied at the Art Planning Department of Osaka University of Arts,[3] 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 1984 without requiring any demo tapes.[2]


Kondo at the Game Developers Conference 2007

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.[4] The first game he worked on was the arcade game Punch-Out!!, although it was before he had officially joined Nintendo.[4] 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.[2] 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.[2] He composed the music for the hit releases Super Mario Bros. (1985)[5] and The Legend of Zelda (1986),[6] 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.[2]

Super Mario Bros., for many years the best-selling video game of all time for a single platform, 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,[2] been a best-selling ringtone,[7] 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 titles, The Mysterious Murasame Castle (1986) and Shin Onigashima (1987). He also created the soundtrack to Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic (1987),[2] which was later rebranded outside Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2 in 1988.[8][9]

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.[10] 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.[11][12][13] In 2015, he served as the sound director and lead composer of Super Mario Maker.[14][15]


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 in December 2014.[16]

Musical style and influencesEdit

Kondo's music for Super Mario Bros. was designed around the feeling of feeling of motion that mirrors the player's physical experience.[17] 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.[18][19] 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.[20][21][22][23]

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 the player knows almost immediately where they are within the game.[24] Justin Daniel Sextro, a student at the University of Missouri, wrote that when compared to the overworld theme of The Legend of Zelda, the dungeon theme gives "no pleasure in listening", saying that as the tune is "not lyrical", it ends up sounding "constantly unresolved". He further writes that while there is motion in the music, it was "without direction" in contrast to the "stable surety" of the overworld theme.[25] Kondo used this contrast in other games he worked on, including Super Mario Bros.[26] The "Underwater Theme" from the same game has also been considered a watershed moment for video game music because it was one of the first to established canon of musical tradition.[clarification needed][27]


Video games
Year Game Role Notes
1983 Punch-Out!! Composition/sound effects[28]
1984 Golf Composition/sound effects
Family BASIC Sound programming
Devil World Composition/sound effects Akito Nakatsuka
1985 Soccer
Arm Wrestling
Kung Fu Sound effects[29]
Super Mario Bros. Composition/sound effects
1986 The Legend of Zelda
The Mysterious Murasame Castle
Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
1987 Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic
Shin Onigashima Composition
1988 Super Mario Bros. 2 Composition/sound effects
Super Mario Bros. 3
1990 Super Mario World Composition/arrangement
Pilotwings Sound programming/composition
("Helicopter Theme")[30][31]
Soyo Oka
1991 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Composition/arrangement
1993 Star Fox Sound effects
Super Mario All-Stars Supervisor
1995 Yoshi's Island Composition/arrangement
1996 Super Mario 64
1997 Star Fox 64 Hajime Wakai
1998 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
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 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
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
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga
Donkey Konga 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's Universal Gravitation
2005 Mario Party Advance
Mario Superstar Baseball Taro Bando
Mario Tennis: Power Tour
Mario Party 7
Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time
2006 New Super Mario Bros. Sound director
Mario Hoops 3-on-3 Supervisor Taro Bando
Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Wii Sports Sound advisor
Wii Play
2007 Mario Party 8
DK Jungle Climber Supervisor
Super Mario Galaxy Composition Mahito Yokota
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games Supervisor Taro Bando
Mario Party DS Sound support Keita Hoshi, Shohei Bando, and Shiho Yonemoto
2008 Super Smash Bros. Brawl Arrangement Various others
Wii Music Sound support Yoji Inagaki
Mario Super Sluggers Taro Bando, Akito Nakatsuka, and Tomokazu Abe
2009 Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Minis March Again! Supervisor
Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games Taro Bando
New Super Mario Bros. Wii Sound advisor
The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks Supervisor
2010 Super Mario Galaxy 2 Composition Mahito Yokota and Ryo Nagamatsu
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Mini-Land Mayhem! Supervisor
Mario Sports Mix
2011 The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D
Star Fox 64 3D Composition (reused) Hajime Wakai and Satomi Terui
The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Anniversary Edition Supervisor Yoji Inagaki
Mario & Sonic at the London 2012 Olympic Games Taro Bando
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword Composition
Fortune Street Supervisor
2012 Mario Party 9
Mario Tennis Open
New Super Mario Bros. 2 Sound advisor Yoji Inagaki
New Super Mario Bros. U
Paper Mario: Sticker Star
2013 Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon Supervisor Kazumi Totaka and Yoji Inagaki
Mario and Donkey Kong: Minis on the Move
New Super Luigi U
Mario & Luigi: Dream Team
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD Composition (reused) Kenta Nagata, Hajime Wakai, and Toru Minegishi
Wii Party U Supervisor
Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games
Super Mario 3D World Composition Mahito Yokota, Toru Minegishi, and Yasuaki Iwata
Mario Party: Island Tour Supervisor
2014 Mario Golf: World Tour
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Supervisor/arrangement Various others
2015 The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask 3D Supervisor Yoji Inagaki
Mario vs. Donkey Kong: Tipping Stars
Mario Party 10
Super Mario Maker Composition/arrangement Naoto Kubo and Asuka Hayazaki
Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash Supervisor Mahito Yokota
Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam
2016 Mini Mario & Friends: Amiibo Challenge Various others
Star Fox Zero Hajime Wakai
Star Fox Guard
Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Ryoji Yoshitomi
Mario Party: Star Rush Ryoji Yoshitomi and Taro Bando
Paper Mario: Color Splash
2017 Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Music Various others
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle Supervisor
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga + Bowser's Minions
Super Mario Odyssey Composition Shiho Fujii and Naoto Kubo
Mario Party: The Top 100 Supervisor Ryoji Yoshitomi and Taro Bando
2018 Mario Tennis Aces Various others
Super Mario Party Ryoji Yoshitomi and Megumi Inoue
Starlink: Battle for Atlas Hajime Wakai
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Arrangement Various others

Awards and honorsEdit

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 Otero, Jose. "A Music Trivia Tour with Nintendo's Koji Kondo". IGN. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  5. ^ "Super Mario Bros. Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  6. ^ "The Legend of Zelda Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved September 18, 2009.
  7. ^ Pearce, James Quintana (January 4, 2007). "Top Selling Ringtones In US For 2006". mocoNews. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  8. ^ McLaughlin, Rus (November 8, 2007). "IGN Presents The History of Super Mario Bros". IGN. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  9. ^ "Super Mario Bros. 2 Tech Info". GameSpot. Retrieved September 21, 2009.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Super Mario Galaxy Original Sound Track Platinum Version (Media notes). Nintendo. 2008.
  12. ^ Gifford, Kevin (February 24, 2010). "How Mario Music Gets Made". UGO Entertainment, Inc. Archived from the original on September 29, 2015. Retrieved December 28, 2010.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ Otero, Jose. "How Mario Maker Mixes Music With Level Creation". IGN. Retrieved December 18, 2014.
  15. ^ "Nintendo Minute -- Chatting with Koji Kondo". YouTube. Nintendo.
  16. ^ James, Dean. "Imagine Dragons And Koji Kondo Celebrate Majora's Mask At The Game Awards 2014". Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  17. ^ Schartmann, Andrew (2015). Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 59–61. ISBN 978-1-62892-853-2.
  18. ^ Schartmann, Andrew (2015). Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. p. 22. ISBN 978-1-62892-853-2.
  19. ^ Schartmann, Andrew (2015). Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. p. 114. ISBN 978-1-62892-853-2.
  20. ^ Masahiro Sakurai (2008-01-23). "Super Mario Bros.: Ground Theme". Smash Bros. Dojo!!. Nintendo, HAL Laboratory, Inc. Retrieved 2010-09-12.
  21. ^ Brophy-Warren, Jamin (2008-10-24). "A New Game for Super Mario's maestro". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2009-02-13.
  22. ^ Laroche, Guillaume (2012). "Analyzing Musical Mario-Media: Variations in the Music of Super Mario Video Games." Order No. MR84768, McGill University (Canada), p. 58.
  23. ^ "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.
  24. ^ Schartmann, Andrew (2015). Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 64–66. ISBN 978-1-62892-853-2.
  25. ^ Sextro, Justin Daniel (2015). "Press Start: Narrative Integration in 16-Bit Video Game Music." Order No. 1598475, University of Missouri - Kansas City. p. 89.
  26. ^ Schartmann, Andrew (2015). Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-62892-853-2.
  27. ^ Schartmann, Andrew (2015). Koji Kondo's Super Mario Bros. Soundtrack. New York: Bloomsbury Academic. p. 75. ISBN 978-1-62892-853-2.
  28. ^ "Video Games Daily | Nintendo Interview: Koji Kondo, May 2007". May 10, 2007. Archived from the original on October 7, 2013. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  29. ^ "Iwata Asks". 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". Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  33. ^ "Games in 2014". Retrieved December 8, 2016.
  34. ^ Greening, Chris. "Annual Game Music Awards 2013 Nominations". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved July 13, 2015.

External linksEdit