Kōji Kondō was born on August 13, 1961 in Nagoya, Japan in the Aichi Prefecture. His love for music appeared early in his life when he would create short tunes for fun, and by seventeen he began to study music professionally.
In the early 1980's Kondo heard that a company called Nintendo was looking for music composers to create music for video games. Kondo never thought of composing music for games before, but he decided to try it out and in 1984 he was hired. He felt very confined to writing music on the Famicom because it had such a low quality of music, but as Nintendo released new systems, the quality of music also increased.
Kondo went on to compose music for some of the biggest known titles for Nintendo including the Mario and Zelda series. To this day, Kondo continues to work with Nintendo making music for video games.
Kondo's style shows elements of Jazz, Classical, and Latin influences with a cinematic theme that have remained fairly similar throughout his career. His music has been released on a multitude of albums. Some have drawn a parallel calling him the John Williams of video games.
It hasn't been documented how Kondo wrote music for the Nintendo 64, but it sounds like Kondo used some sort of MIDI or MIDI-like sequencer. The instrument samples sound like they have come from either Korg and/or Roland sound devices. Most of the ambient sounds in the Zelda games were taken from sound effects CDs such as Distorted Reality, Zero-G: Ethnic, and Best Service Gigapack. Examples of these samples can be seen here.
In addition, Kondo's instrument samples were reportedly taken from the Korg M1 and various Akai samplers.
At the time, Nintendo required their main composers such as Hirokazu Tanaka and Akito Nakatsuka to write their own sound engines for the NES/Famicom, so Kondo programmed a sound driver in 6502 assembly, though he originally used the original sound driver programmed by Yukio Kaneoka.
Kondo wrote his music on a digital piano and used Nintendo's Kankichi-kun software on a Sony NEWS computer to sequence his music. It is unknown where the sound samples came from, but it's rumored they were from a Casio keyboard.
The marcato strings in Link to the Past are reportedly from either an Emu Emulator II or Emax.
This forum post on Reddit has a list of various sound sources Kondo used.
|1984-05-01||Golf (NES)||Sound effects; game has no music.|
|1984-06-12||Vs. Stroke & Match: Golf (ARC)||Sound effects; game has no music.|
|1984-06-21||Family BASIC (FC)||Sound programming|
|1984-10-05||Devil World (FC) (デビルワールド)||
||With Akito Nakatsuka|
|1985-04-09||Soccer (NES) (サッカー)||
|1985-05-??||Arm Wrestling (ARC)|
|1985-06-21||Kung Fu (NES) (スパルタンX)||
||Sound effects, arranged Masato Ishizaki's music.|
|1985-09-13||Super Mario Bros. (NES) (スーパーマリオブラザーズ)||
|1986-02-21||The Legend of Zelda (NES) (ゼルダの伝説 THE HYRULE FANTASY)||
|1986-04-14||Nazo no Murasamejou (FDS) (謎の村雨城)||
|1986-05-03||Super Mario Bros. 2 (FDS) (スーパーマリオブラザーズ２)|
|1987-07-10||Yume Koujo: Dokidoki Panic (FDS) (夢工場 ドキドキパニック)|
|1987-09-04||Famicom Tale: New Onigashima - Prequel (FDS) (ファミコン昔話 新鬼ヶ島 前編)|
|1987-09-30||Famicom Tale: New Onigashima - Sequel (FDS) (ファミコン昔話 新鬼ヶ島 後編)|
|1988-10-??||Super Mario Bros. 2 (NES) (スーパーマリオ USA)||
|1988-10-23||Super Mario Bros. 3 (NES) (スーパーマリオブラザーズ３)||
|1990-11-21||Super Mario World (SNES) (スーパーマリオワールド Super Mario Bros. 4)||
|1990-12-21||Pilotwings (SNES) (パイロットウィングス)||Composed Helicopter; Sound programming|
|Unreleased||SimCity (NES)||Sound Driver|
|1991-04-26||SimCity (SNES) (シムシティ)||
||Mario Sound Effect|
|1991-11-21||The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES) (ゼルダの伝説 神々のトライフォース)||
|1993-02-21||Star Fox (SNES) (スターフォックス)||Sound Effects|
|Unreleased||Super Mario's Wacky Worlds (CDI)||Reused from Super Mario World (SNES).|
|1995-08-15||Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island (SNES) (スーパーマリオ ヨッシーアイランド)|
|1996-06-23||Super Mario 64 (N64) (スーパーマリオ６４)||
||Programmed by Hideaki Shimizu|
|1997-05-27||Star Fox 64 (N64) (スターフォックス６４)||Sound effects|
|1998-11-21||The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (N64) (ゼルダの伝説 時のオカリナ)||Last game entirely composed by Kondo|
|2000-05-27||The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (N64) (ゼルダの伝説 ムジュラの仮面)||With Toru Minegishi|
|2002-07-19||Super Mario Sunshine (GC) (スーパーマリオサンシャイン)||With Shinobu Tanaka|
|2002-12-13||The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker (GC) (ゼルダの伝説 風のタクト)||Composed Grandma's Theme|
|2004-03-18||The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Adventures (GC)|
|2006-05-15||New Super Mario Bros. (DS) (ニュー・スーパーマリオブラザーズ)||Composed Ground BGM; Sound Director|
|2006-11-19||The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (WII) (ゼルダの伝説 トワイライトプリンセス)||Composed Orchestra Piece #1|
|2007-11-01||Super Mario Galaxy (WII) (スーパーマリオギャラクシー)||Composed Rosalina in the Observatory, Egg Planet|
|2008-01-31||Super Smash Bros. Brawl (WII) (大乱闘スマッシュブラザーズX)||Arrangements|
|2009-12-07||The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks (DS) (ゼルダの伝説 大地の汽笛)||Composed Ending|
|2010-05-23||Super Mario Galaxy 2 (WII) (スーパーマリオギャラクシー2)||Composed Yoshi Star Galaxy, Starship Mario, Bowser Jr.'s Fiery Flotilla|
|2011-11-18||The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (WII)||Composed Legend of Skyloft|
|2013-11-21||Super Mario 3D World (WIIU)||Composed Chain-Link Charge, Sunshine Seaside|
|2014-11-21||Super Smash Bros. For Wii U (WIIU)||Arrangement|
|2015-09-10||Super Mario Maker (WIIU)||Arrangements; marks first role as lead composer in 15 years|
|2017-04-28||Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (SW) (マリオカート8 デラックス)||Composed Battle Theme|
|2017-10-27||Super Mario Odyssey (SW) (スーパーマリオ オデッセイ)||Composed Wooded Kingdom, Bowser Castle|
|2018-06-22||Mario Tennis Aces (SW) (マリオテニス エース)||Sound Supervisor|
|2018-10-05||Super Mario Party (SW) (スーパー マリオパーティ)||Sound Supervisor|
|2018-12-07||Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (SW) (大乱闘スマッシュブラザーズ SPECIAL)|
|2019-06-28||Super Mario Maker 2 (SW) (スーパーマリオメーカー 2)||Sound Director|
|2019-11-01||Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Games: Tokyo 2020 (SW) (マリオ&ソニック AT 東京2020オリンピック)||Sound Supervisor|
|2020-07-17||Paper Mario: The Origami King (SW) (ペーパーマリオ オリガミキング)||Sound Supervisor|
|2021-10-29||Mario Party Superstars (SW) (マリオパーティ スーパースターズ)||Sound Supervisor|
Kondo during the development of SMW; .
- en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koji_Kondo - Wikipedia.
- mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,56235 - MobyGames.
- vgmonline.net/kojikondo - Detailed biography.
- ign.com/articles/2007/03/12/koji-kondo-an-interview-with-a-legend - IGN interview.
- gamesradar.com/zelda-past-and-future-interview-koji-kondo-and-eiji-aonuma - Games Radar interview.
- originalsoundversion.com/koji-kondo-talks-ocarina-of-time-gives-details-on-skyward-sword - OSV interview.
- glitterberri.com/ocarina-of-time/special-interview-koji-kondo - Interview.
- iwataasks.nintendo.com/interviews/#/3ds/zelda-ocarina-of-time/0/0 - Nintendo interview.
- youtube.com/watch?v=5ilJCerCucA - Video interview.