Meet Nintendo's Legendary Synth Composer: Koji Kondo
Whether it’s downtempo beats to chill to or epic orchestral arrangements, Nintendo has some of the best and most known gaming music in the world. And there’s one man who has helped launch the sonic status of Japan’s biggest gaming studio. Koji Kondo.
As kids hearing video game music for the first time, many of us absolutely had our faces melted by the radical synth stylings of Koji Kondo. He got his start as practically a baby. At the tender age of just five years old, Kondo learned how to play the electric organ. As he grew older and began composing music of his own, he also developed a lifelong love of video games. When Nintendo posted a job listing at this university, Kondo saw the perfect opportunity to combine his skills as a gamer and musician into the ultimate dream job. He was hired as a composer and would go on to change the world of video game music for the better.
His most recognizable composition may be the absolute banger that is the Super Mario Bros. theme. He began his work on the simple synth technology available at the time. Trying to create songs out of the limited notes and sounds available on gaming systems in the 80’s was no small task. How to make a song that would be heard over and over again by players but not become eye gougingly annoying is a herculean feat. But Kondo accomplished that and more.
His first credited game work was on 1983’s Punch-Out!!! but he rocketed to fame with the international success of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Since then he’s worked on dozens of Nintendo titles like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Super Paper Mario, and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Today his music is performed around the world in fully orchestrated concerts and covers from popular acts. He’s also dabbled in Nintendo’s TV ventures, composing for shows like 1989’s infamous The Legend of Zelda cartoon and 1991’s Super Mario World show. His accomplishments are truly inspiring but the really impressive feat is applying to a job straight out of college and still being with that same company so many years later.