Top Ten Koji Kondo Game


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We recog­nise many retro games for their prim­i­tive vi­su­als and sim­ple con­trols, but noth­ing tugs on our nos­tal­gic hearts quite like music. Nintendo dom­i­nated many child­hoods dur­ing the 80s and 90s (full dis­clo­sure: I was a SEGA kid up un­til the N64), and over those decades sound tech­nol­ogy evolved along­side the graph­i­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the sys­tems. While Miyamoto is fa­mous for bring­ing iconic char­ac­ters like Mario, Yoshi and Link into the world, less of a big deal is made about Koji Kondo, whose iconic tracks and sam­ples can pull us right back to those ear­lier years.

Kondo started out like most mu­si­cians, learn­ing an in­stru­ment (in his case the key­board) as a young child. Dur­ing his ter­tiary stud­ies in the early 80s, he be­came in­ter­ested in the de­vel­op­ments of sound tech­nolo­gies thanks to syn­the­sis­ers and com­put­ers. He didn’t have a strong back­ground in clas­si­cal music: he was more in­ter­ested in jazz, fu­sion and elec­tronic music. When a job opened at Nintendo in 1984, he jumped at the op­por­tu­nity.

Kondo en­tered the games in­dus­try soon af­ter the mar­ket crash of the same decade, just as things were pick­ing up again. Sky­rock­et­ing ad­vance­ments in home com­put­ing made this the per­fect time for a tal­ented young com­poser with some­thing to prove to come along and make their mark.

Since then, he has been the driv­ing force be­hind Nintendo’s sound di­vi­sion for over 30 years, and com­posed music for over 30 games in that time. Here’s our top ten Kondo sound­tracks.

Note: The fol­low­ing list is in chrono­log­i­cal or­der to il­lus­trate how the de­vel­op­ments of tech­nol­ogy has in­flu­enced Kondo’s music.

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