Koji Kondo is a legendary Japanese sound director and video game composer. He is most famous for having composed the scores to the ‘Super Mario’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda’ Series.
Koji Kondo was born on August 13, 1961 in Nagoya, Japan. At the age of five, Kondo started taking lessons in electronic organ. For much of his youth, he remained part of a cover band that focused on mainstream music. Kondo had a huge passion for LCD and Arcade Games, and when Nintendo sent him a recruitment message in 1984 for the position of a sound programmer, he happily accepted. Although Kondo had no formal training in classical music, he was very well versed in electronic music.
Koji Kondo was hired alongside Hirokazu Tanaka and Yukio Kaneoka, all of whom were assigned to create scores and sound effects for Nintendo’s games. Kondo’s first assignment was for the game titled “Punch- Out” in 1984. Kondo then went on to work on the Famicom platform, which gained great popularity in Japan in the early 1980’s. He then wrote an instruction manual on how to program the Famicom using the peripheral Family BASIC. Kondo’s other composition assignments for 1984 included the themes for “Vs. Stroke & Match: Golf”, “Golf”, and “Devil World”. Kondo also played an essential role in selling the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Famicom platform in North America during the 1983 North American Video Game Crash.
Kondo is most known for writing the themes to arguably the most popular melodies in the video game industry and probably, world over. In 1985, he wrote the music and sound effects for the super hit game ‘Super Mario Bros’; a game which would be later be called ‘The Greatest Game of All Time’. In 1986, Kondo wrote the music and sound effects for ‘The Legend of Zelda’, which was second in popularity only to ‘Super Mario’ itself. The first editions of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda sold over sixty million copies worldwide.
After the immense success of the initial releases of ‘Super Mario Bros.’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda’, Kondo was assigned to write the scores for all the subsequent releases of the series, including ‘Super Mario Bros. 2’, ‘Super Mario Bros. 3’, ‘Super Mario: The Lost Levels’, ‘Super Mario World’, ‘Super Mario World: Yoshi’s Island’, ‘Super Mario 64’, ‘The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past’, and ‘The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time’. The lattermost title was composed in 1998 and it was Kondo’s last assignment on which he worked alone.
After having amassed legendary status in the video game industry, Kondo now works as a supervisor, arranger and consultant for the Nintendo Sound Team. He also worked as a sound support specialist for many of the Mario spin-offs, including the highly popular ‘Mario Kart’ series, the ‘Mario Golf’ series, the ‘Mario Party’ series and even the ‘Mario vs. Donkey Kong’ series. Recently, he has also wrote scores for many games while collaborating with Asuta Ohta, Hajime Wakai, Toru Minegishi, Mahito Yokota, Taro Bando, Keita Hoshi, Shiho Yonemoto, Akito Nakatsuka, Shohei Bando and Tomokazu Abe. Kondo’s most recent full length composition for the 2013 release titled “Super Mario 3D World”, which he wrote in collaboration with Mahito Yokota, Yasuaki Iwata and Toru Minegishi.