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 development company Nintendo. He is best known for his involvement in numerous titles in the Mario and The Legend of Zelda series of video games, among other games produced by the company. Kondo was originally hired by Nintendo in 1984, becoming the first person hired by the company 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, are often cited as the most memorable in video games.
Kondo in 2015
|Native name||近藤 浩治|
August 13, 1961 |
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
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 1984 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 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, 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. 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), which was later rebranded outside 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, Yoshi's Island. 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. 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. In 2015, he served as the sound director and lead composer of Super Mario Maker.
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. 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.
Musical style and influencesEdit
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 the works of the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff as an influence, 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|
|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's Universal Gravitation||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.||Sound director|
|Mario Hoops 3-on-3||Sound supervisor||Taro Bando|
|Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis||Sound supervisor|
|The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess||Sound supervisor|
|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|
|Wii Music||Sound support||Yoji Inagaki|
|Mario Super Sluggers||Sound support||Taro Bando, Akito Nakatsuka, and Tomokazu Abe|
|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||Sound supervisor|
|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||Naoto Kubo and Asuka Hayazaki|
|Mario Tennis: Ultra Smash||Music supervisor||Mahito Yokota|
|Mario & Luigi: Paper Jam||Sound supervisor|
|2016||Mini Mario & Friends: Amiibo Challenge||Music supervisor||Various others|
|Star Fox Zero||Sound supervisor||Hajime Wakai|
|Star Fox Guard||Sound supervisor||Hajime Wakai|
|Mario & Sonic at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games||Sound supervisor||Ryoji Yoshitomi|
|Mario Party: Star Rush||Sound supervisor||Ryoji Yoshitomi and Taro Bando|
|Paper Mario: Color Splash||Sound supervisor|
|2017||Mario Kart 8 Deluxe||Music||Various others|
|Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle||Sound supervisor|
Awards and honorsEdit
|2011||Super Mario Galaxy 2||British Academy Games Awards (Best Original Music)||Nominated|
|2014||Super Mario 3D World||British Academy Games Awards (Best Original Music)||Nominated|
|Video Game Music Online (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. 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.
- "Nintendo Minute -- Chatting with Koji Kondo". YouTube. Nintendo.
- 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. Archived from the original on 2014-08-11.
- NintenDaanNC. "[NC UK] Koji Kondo Interview".
- "Video Games Daily | Nintendo Interview: Koji Kondo, May 2007". Archive.videogamesdaily.com. 2007-05-10. Archived from the original on 2013-10-07. 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". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved 2015-02-12.
- Otero, Jose. "A Music Trivia Tour with Nintendo's Koji Kondo". IGN. Retrieved 13 February 2015.
- "2011 Winners & Nominees". bafta.org. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "Games in 2014". bafta.org. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- Greening, Chris. "Annual Game Music Awards 2013 Nominations". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved 13 July 2015.