The fine-tune: Meet top composers from the videogame world

Videogame soundtracks have come a long way from the early blips and beeps. Today, there are still the nostalgic chiptunes

Updated on Jan 13, 2023 05:57 PM IST 10 Photos

Tomohiro Nishikado of Space Invaders (1978): In addition to designing and programming the game, the Japanese engineer also did the artwork and sounds for the arcade game. It went on to become the first videogame with a continuous soundtrack (four descending notes that sped up as the enemy approached). It was the first in-game sound that interacted with player to create an atmosphere that propelled action. (Shutterstock)

Koji Kondo of Super Mario (1985): In 1984, this visionary Japanese composer was hired by Nintendo. Within a year, Kondo had created masterpieces for Super Mario, working out an upbeat, almost swing-like melody, using three notes at a time. For the underwater sections, where Mario swam through enemy territory, there was a lighter waltz. And throughout the Overworld, as Mario collected coins, there was the triumphant metallic ping. These tunes are still in use and widely recognized today. (HT Archive)

Yasunori Mitsuda of Chrono Trigger (1995): The Japanese composer is best known for his work on the soundtrack of the role-playing game Chrono Trigger, Xenogears (1998) and Chrono Cross (1999). He is famous for the use of minimalism in his music. Inspired by Celtic and Japanese traditions, folk and jazz, many of his tunes merge cultures with just a few chords. His compositions frequently involve the use of the tabla, sitar, and Japanese shakuhachi flutes, and have been recreated at concerts around the world. (Procyon Studio)


Nobuo Uematsu of Final Fantasy VII (1997): Self-taught Japanese composer Nobuo Uematsu’s classical videogame compositions were known for their complicated and emotional themes, like the ‘One-Winged Angel’ that featured in the 1997 RPG Final Fantasy VII. The lyrics for the piece were taken from the Carmina Burana, a collection of 24 medieval poems. Uematsu’s compositions include a diverse mix of classical tunes with heavy metal and electronica. (Nintendo)

Akira Yamaoka of Silent Hill (1999): The Japanese composer’s unique score for the iconic survival-horror game is equal parts dark, haunting, and droning. It strikes a balance between melodic tunes composed on the guitar and synthesizer and field recordings that involve creaky, grating industrial sounds that keep the player on edge.  (Amazon)