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Koji Kondo

Koji Kondo
Koji Kondo in 2006
Background information
Native name 近藤 浩治
Born (1961-08-13) August 13, 1961 [1]
Nagoya, Aichi, Japan
  • Composer
  • sound designer
  • sound director
Instruments Piano
Years active 1983–present
Associated acts

Koji Kondo (近藤 浩治 Kondō Kōji, born August 13, 1961[1]) is a Japanese video game composer and sound director who has been employed at Nintendo since 1984. He is best known for his involvement in numerous titles in the Mario and The Legend of Zelda series.


  • Biography 1
    • Early life 1.1
    • Career 1.2
  • Concerts 2
  • Musical style and influences 3
  • Works 4
  • Awards and honors 5
    • BAFTA Games Awards 5.1
    • Video Game Music Online 5.2
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Early life

Koji Kondo was born in cover band that played jazz and rock music.[2] Kondo studied at the Art Planning Department of Osaka University of Arts,[3] 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.[2]


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.[4] The first game he worked on was the arcade game Punch-Out!!, although it was before he had officially joined Nintendo.[4] 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.[2] 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.[2] He composed the music for the hit releases Super Mario Bros. (1985)[5] and The Legend of Zelda (1986)[6] 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.[2]

Kondo at the Game Developers Conference 2007

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,[2] been a best-selling ringtone,[7] and been remixed or sampled by various musicians.[2] 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. Following 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),[2] which was later rebranded outside of Japan as Super Mario Bros. 2 in 1988.[8][9]

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, Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island.[2] Until the Nintendo 64 era, Kondo would usually write all compositions by himself on a project, ending with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 1998.[10] Since then, he has been collaborating with other staff members at Nintendo EAD, advising and supervising music created by others, as well as providing additional compositions for games such as Super Mario Galaxy, The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, and Super Mario 3D World.[11][12][13] In 2015, he was the sound director and co-composer of Super Mario Maker.[14][15]


Kondo attended the world premiere of Play! A Video Game Symphony at the Rosemont Theater in Rosemont, Illinois, in May 2006. His music from the Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda series was performed by a full symphony orchestra. This event drew nearly four thousand attendees. He also attended and performed in a series of three concerts celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Legend of Zelda series in late 2011. On December 5, 2014, he performed live piano with the American rock band Imagine Dragons at the 2014 The Game Awards.[16]

Musical style and influences

The "Super Mario Bros. theme" was featured in Billboard Magazine‍ '​s Hot Ringtones for 112 consecutive weeks.[17] Kondo cites rock bands Deep Purple and Emerson, Lake & Palmer as major musical influences.[18] He has also cited as influences the works of the Russian romantic composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, particularly his four piano concertos.[19]


Video games
Year Title Role Co-worker(s)
1983 Punch-Out!! Composition/sound effects[20]
1984 Golf Composition/sound effects
Family BASIC Sound programming
Devil World Composition/sound effects Akito Nakatsuka
1985 Soccer Composition/sound effects
Arm Wrestling Composition/sound effects
Kung Fu Sound effects[21]
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
Volleyball Composition/sound effects
1987 Yume Kōjō: Doki Doki Panic Composition/sound effects
Shin Onigashima Composition
1988 Super Mario Bros. 2 Composition/sound effects
Super Mario Bros. 3 Composition/sound effects
1990 Super Mario World Composition/arrangement
Pilotwings Sound programming/composition
("Helicopter Theme")[22][23]
Soyo Oka
1991 The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Composition/arrangement
1993 Star Fox Sound effects
Super Mario All-Stars Sound supervisor
1995 Yoshi's Island Composition/arrangement
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
2016 The Legend of Zelda Wii U Supervisor

Awards and honors

BAFTA Games Awards

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2011 Super Mario Galaxy 2 Best Original Music[24] Nominated
2014 Super Mario 3D World Best Original Music[24] Nominated

Video Game Music Online

Year Recipient/Nominated work Award Result
2014 Super Mario 3D World Best Soundtrack – Retro / Remixed[25] Nominated


  1. ^ a b c "THE LEGEND OF ZELDA -OCARINA OF TIME- / Re-Arranged Album p.3". VGMdb. Retrieved 2014-05-22. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Chris Greening. "Koji Kondo Profile". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved 2014-06-20. 
  3. ^ "Mario and Zelda composer Koji Kondo shares all at GDC '07".  
  4. ^ a b Otero, Jose. "A Music Trivia Tour with Nintendo's Koji Kondo". IGN. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "Super Mario Bros. Tech Info".  
  6. ^ "The Legend of Zelda Tech Info".  
  7. ^ Pearce, James Quintana (2007-01-04). "Top Selling Ringtones In US For 2006". mocoNews. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  8. ^ McLaughlin, Rus (2007-11-08). "IGN Presents The History of Super Mario Bros.". IGN. Retrieved 2009-09-21. 
  9. ^ "Super Mario Bros. 2 Tech Info".  
  10. ^ Kohler, Chris (2007-03-15). "Behind the Mario Maestro's Music". Wired.  
  11. ^ Super Mario Galaxy Original Sound Track Platinum Version (Media notes).  
  12. ^ Gifford, Kevin (2010-02-24). "How Mario Music Gets Made".  
  13. ^ 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. 
  14. ^ Otero, Jose. "How Mario Maker Mixes Music With Level Creation". IGN. Retrieved 18 December 2014. 
  15. ^ "Nintendo Minute -- Chatting with Koji Kondo". YouTube. Nintendo. 
  16. ^ James, Dean. "Imagine Dragons And Koji Kondo Celebrate Majora’s Mask At The Game Awards 2014". Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  17. ^ "Mario ringtone marks over two years on charts. Who knew?".  
  18. ^ "Inside Zelda Part 4: Natural Rhythms of Hyrule".  
  19. ^ "[NC UK] Koji Kondo Interview". 
  20. ^ "Video Games Daily | Nintendo Interview: Koji Kondo, May 2007". 2007-05-10. Retrieved 2013-08-17. 
  21. ^ "Iwata Asks". Retrieved 2013-08-17. 
  22. ^ Greening, Chris; Harris, Dave (March 28, 2011). "Soyo Oka Interview: The Comeback of Super Mario Kart’s Composer". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved 2015-02-12. 
  23. ^ Otero, Jose. "A Music Trivia Tour with Nintendo's Koji Kondo". IGN. Retrieved 13 February 2015. 
  24. ^ a b
  25. ^ Greening, Chris. "Annual Game Music Awards 2013 Nominations". Video Game Music Online. Retrieved 13 July 2015. 

External links

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