It’s a safe assumption to say that most people enjoy listening to music. However, this form of art is listened to in more ways than one. While some prefer hearing songs at concerts, online, or maybe even in movies, there are plenty who’d swear that video games contain the best music available. Indeed, strong arguments can be made for certain tracks being modern classics. And of course, behind every stellar soundtrack is an equally stellar composer. These are six men and women who have helped make our favorite games as good as they are.
6. Takeharu Ishimoto
To start off, we have a very personal pick. Ishimoto began working on video games in the late 90’s, starting out as the synthesizer programmer for games such as Legend of Mana and the All Star Pro-Wrestling series.
Ishimoto ended up getting his big break with the opportunity to be a composer for World Fantasia. Since then, Ishimoto has been on a roll. He’s contributed to several Kingdom Hearts soundtracks, done a few Final Fantasy scores, including the especially noteworthy Dissidia soundtracks, and his crowning achievement, remains his composition of the songs in the 2007 JRPG, The World Ends with You, my favorite game of all time.
His work may be more recent than most famous gaming composers, but I feel that he’s done enough to merit a spot among the greats.
5. Yuka Tsujiyoko
From a Square Enix composer to an employee of Nintendo, Tsujiyoko is mainly responsible for providing the soundtracks to the increasing popular Fire Emblem series. She’s been composing the scores for the franchise since the beginning, and has most recently done the soundtrack for Fire Emblem: Fates.
In addition, she’s worked on several other Nintendo properties, having worked on the music for the Gameboy version of Tetris Attack, as well as Pokemon Picross.
Her best pieces are found in the soundtracks she has composed for both Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door.
4. Kenji Yamamoto
Rounding out the bottom three, we have the man behind the music of Metroid, Kenji Yamamoto.
Despite its rough time in recent years, the Metroid series remains one of Nintendo’s most popular franchises. Much like other decade spanning series, the music is a major part of it. With the exception of the first Metroid title, Yamamoto has composed the music of every other game in the franchise.
Yamamoto’s other accomplishments include the scores for Mike Tyson’s Punch Out, several of the Donkey Kong Country games, and quite a bit more. Though his work on Metroid still remains his best to this day.
3. Nobuo Uematsu
While everyone on this list has incredible musical talent, what separates the top three from the bottom three is sheer quantity. The amount of games these people have worked on is almost unfathomable.
In the case of Mr. Uematsu, he has been composing video game music since 1986, is still working today, and over the course of 30 years, he has composed music for over 70 different games.
While he’s also worked on some lesser known gems such as The Last Story and Lost Odyssey, as well as having composed the soundtrack for the much beloved Chrono Trigger, the work that has made Uematsu a legend are his Final Fantasy soundtracks.
Having composed the music for nearly every main series Final Fantasy game, Uematsu has created some of the greatest songs in gaming history, such as “One Winged Angel” and “Dancing Mad.”
He has definitely earned his title as the, “Beethoven of Gaming.”
2. Yoko Shinamura
While her resume isn’t quite as massive as Mr. Uematsu’s, Shinamura has still worked on a massive amount of game soundtracks.
Like Uematsu and Ishimoto, her specialty is composing music for RPG’s. In addition to writing the score for excellent RPG’s such as Radiant Historia and the Mario & Luigi series, she has also ventured into composing music for games of other genres such as Street Fighter II: The World Warrior.
However, much like Uematsu, she has one series whose music has made her a legend. Of course, I’m referring to the Kingdom Hearts series. She has composed the soundtrack for every single game in the franchise, and while it’s an incredibly difficult choice, my favorite song that she has written is probably “Sanctuary”, the main theme of Kingdom Hearts II.
For these reasons Shinamura was tapped to compose the music for both Kingdom Hearts III and Final Fantasy XV, two of the most hyped up RPG’s of all time.
1. Koji Kondo
No one else could take the number one spot but the man, the myth, the legend: Koji Kondo.
With a resume whose size easily matches Uematsu’s and Shinamura’s, Kondo rises above all other video game composers by making several of the the most popular franchises in the world what they are.
He is responsible for the soundtracks for the majority of the soundtracks from the Legend of Zelda franchise, as well as an abundance of Mario game soundtracks.
Kondo has also composed music for several Donkey Kong games, a few Star Fox games, and is even responsible for the original Punch Out!! theme.
Koji Kondo IS, and likely always will be, the greatest composer in video game history.