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Tuesday April 23rd 2019

A Look into Video Game Music – Week Two

(This month, will feature musical compositions and their composers each week that shows the different aspects of some high-profile games in recent years. Some songs may be easily recognizable and some may be from composers recognizable from other forms of entertainment.)

For the second week of this feature, Level Up will look at some compositions from two Japanese artists.

Japan is home to several origins of well known games today. One of the major soundtracks that catches attention from people of all ages is the Mario themes.

Koji Kondo is one of the most well-known video game composers in the industry. His work began in the 80’s with the Nintendo Entertainment System era. While his music began as 8-bit, the songs have constantly evolved into complete orchestral arrangements.

To this day, his main work consists of the very same games that put him into the spotlight: The Legend of Zelda series and the Super Mario series.

Spanning several generations of gaming systems and over two decades, the music has lived into the hearts of several gamers and the casual community.

Below are the arranged orchestral version of his works, performed lived. The final video is of Koji Kondo performing a solo piano concert of his Mario works.


Masato Nakamura is a musician and composer. He currently plays in his own band, however his work has been seen in television commercials and other forms of media.

His debut as a game composer is his main contribution to the industry. Composing for the original Sonic: The Hedgehog games, the music rings to the ears of several early adopters of the Sega consoles.

Today, an arrangement of his music is performed at the Play! Symphony around the world.

Below is a recorded version of the Sonic performance.


Yoko Shimomura is the final composer listed for this week’s blog. She has worked for gaming giants Square Enix and Capcom for several games during her career.

Graduating from Osaka College of Music, she originally began her career at Capcom. Her work includes contributing and composing songs for popular titles such as Street Fighter. She later was hired by Square to create the soundtracks for hits such as Parasite Eve, Super Mario RPG, Legend of Mana and Kingdom Hearts. She is currently composing the soundtrack for Kingdom Hearts 3D and Final Fantasy Versus XIII.

Below is the orchestrated theme from Kingdom Hearts performed live, in which she teamed with Kaoru Wada to compose.


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