In Japan, role-playing games were not well-known during the 1970s, but as games like Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest were established, Japan created its own subcategory--JRPG (also known as Japanese role-playing game).
JRPGs contain multiple elements, such as a menu selected battle system and a linear exploration, that make players feel connected and immerse with the game. But really, it is the music that makes fans appeal to JRPGs.
Amazing composers, like the famous Nobuo Nematsu, created various types of scores that fans truly remember throughout generations, leaving a legacy in the gaming music. Included in the group are these five amazing composers who are continuing to compose beautiful music for JRPGs.
At the age of 16, Miyoshi debuted in 2011 when he composed the music for SOULCALIBUR V, making him one of the youngest composers in the gaming industry. He worked with composers such as Austin Wintory to create beautiful -- and long-lasting, JRPG soundscapes. Soon, he will be collaborating with Nobuo Uematsu for Project Phoenix, a game developed by Creative Intelligence Arts.
He is also well-known for the RPG I am Setsuna, which was released in 2016. The soundtrack relies solely on the piano, which presents a melancholy yet sweet tone. Each song is played with an elegance that compliments the snowing setting within the game.
Meguro started composing in 1995 when he joined Atlus, contributing to games like Revelations: Persona and Devil Hackers. B, but his career took off when he became a lead composer for Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne. Since then, he has continued to work as a composer for Atlus, creating music for Persona 5 and Shin Megami Tensei: Deep Strange Journey.
This composer focuses on rock music but also fuses it with classical, electronic, and jazz to create a new, upbeat and edgy sound. This fusion between technology and classical music genres imbues a uniqueness in his work, helping players enjoy the game and the music.
Sakuraba started composing in 1989 when he joined Wolf Team (also known as Namco Tales Studio). Artists like Pink Floyd, Yellow Magic Orchestra, and Outer Limits influenced Sakuraba’s sound, leading him to become a composer for JRPGs like Star Ocean and Valkyrie Profile series.
His music consists of progressive and symphonic rock, new age, and jazz. Sakuraba creates fast and complex beats that sonically impact players, both literally and figuratively. But although his booming sound may be tense, it does not over-power the game. Instead, it creates a suspenseful and engaging environment for players, especially during battle.
Fans may know Shimomura from Kingdom Hearts, Final Fantasy XV, and the Mario & Luigi series. But before becoming a well-known JRPG composer, she worked for Capcom in 1988, contributing to Samurai Sword and F1 Dream. Once she moved to Square Enix in 1993, she contributed to games like Live A Live and Legend of Mana.
Although she is currently a freelance composer, she continues to work for Square Enix for upcoming projects, especially Kingdom Hearts 3.
This composer mostly focuses on the electronic and symphonic genres, as well as the genres of industrial, rock, and pop. Her sound varies from booming rhythms to soothing melodies by mixing both classical and electronic. Her songs bring out the best moments in the game, making these songs unforgettable to fans.
Alongside Nobuo Nematsu, Yasunori Mitsuda is well-known in the JRPG community with games like Valkyria Revolution, Xenogears, and Soul Sacrifice under his belt. This composer first worked as a sound engineer for Square Enix in 1992, but once he threatened to quit, Hironobu Sakaguchi, vice president of Square Enix, allowed him to become a composer for Chrono Trigger. Since then, he's continued to make music for JRPGs 'till this day.
His sound contains various influences, like jazz and Celtic, but when he composes songs, he approaches it with a minimalist mindset. His songs contained only a few chords, creating a simple and soothing tone. Despite its simplicity, the game still remains magical and adds an atmospheric feeling while becoming something more tranquil and melodious.
There you have it! From the melancholy sounds of Miyoshi to the simplistic tones of Mitsuda, these five composers continue to make amazing -- and unforgettable -- music for Japanese RPGs. Though these composers created some of the most everlasting scores in JRPG history, their work continues even further into future, leaving us to see what they will compose next.
Who are your favorite JRPG composers? Tell us in the comments below!