Hiroshi Kawaguchi is the composer for many of Sega's well-known arcade games such as After Burner, OutRun, and Fantasy Zone. Born on April 12, 1965 as Hiroshi Miyauchi (宮内 博史), he changed his surname to Kawaguchi when he married and was adopted by his wife's family (making him a mukoyōshi).
At elementary school, Kawaguchi had ironically absolutely no interest in music and hated the lessons. Instead, he played hide and seek and created things using Lego and N&B Blocks (Nintendo), mostly from his brother. Kawaguchi's first played arcade games were Pong (Atari) in a bowling alley, and the electro-mechanical Grand Prix (Sega) and Mini Drive (Kasco) in a department store. His first played console was Color TV-Game 15 (Nintendo). He saved his allowance to buy one himself, but his parents wrongly said it could damage the television set.
Around middle school, everyone was getting into folk guitar, and Kawaguchi got into music after all. Specifically liking Masashi Sada, Chiharu Matsuyama, Alice, he again saved his allowance, bought a guitar, chord charts, taught himself playing, and composed his first songs (with lyrics). At high school, he immediately founded a fusion band that performed songs by Masayoshi Takanaka, Naoya Matsuoka, Casiopeia, and their own (again with lyrics). Kawaguchi started on rhythm guitar, but gradually moved to synthesizers and found himself enjoying creating new sounds.
When 8-bit home computers were booming, his brother subscribed to a magazine, and Kawaguchi wanted an Apple II, but could not afford one. Fortunately, the Commodore VIC-1001 came out in 1980 for only ¥69800, and Kawaguchi bought it that very day. He programmed games in BASIC and much faster 6502 machine code, two to four of which he sold to hobby magazines like PiO, I/O, possibly Maikon, and later BeMaga. Inspired by New Rally-X (ARC) (Namco), he started arranging for the VIC chip.
Over the years, Kawaguchi thought about becoming a carpenter (like his parents), a chef, or a manga artist. Towards the end of high school, he searched for programming jobs and realized that video game companies existed. At Sega, he passed a simple written test and interviewed with Hisashi Suzuki (who mainly talked about himself). Kawaguchi asked to join as a composer, but was hired as a programmer only, which was okay for him. Still in his teens, he was co-programmer and artist on Girl's Garden (SG1). Suddenly, designer and guitarist Yu Suzuki asked Kawaguchi to score Hang-On (ARC). After finishing, Kawaguchi asked his boss, finally successfully, to be promoted from programmer to full-time composer.
Although a programmer himself, Kawaguchi initially found it faster to give sheet music or cassettes to other programmers.
Genesis / Mega Drive
The content of this section should be improved.
- mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,78301/ - MobyGames.
- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroshi_Kawaguchi_(composer) - Wikipedia.
- twitter.com/Hiro_H10th - Twitter.
- shmuplations.com/sst/ - Group interview with Takenobu Mitsuyoshi and Yoshihiro Ohno from 2009.
- web.archive.org/web/20161122073039/http://sega-interactive.co.jp/special/interview/vol8-1/ - Interview (in Japanese).
- 4gamer.net/games/518/G051828/20201111024/ - Group interview (in Japanese).