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Koji Kondo discusses his entrance into the game industry, and an encounter with Paul McCartney

by rawmeatcowboy
12 November 2010
GN Version 3.1

This interview is part of a preface for a Zelda sheet music book…

-So, what got you into the game industry?

Kondo: I’d been a game fan since long ago, playing business purpose games and LCD games. In university, cafe tables with game screens embedded in them began to appear and I got into Donkey Kong and Mario Brothers.

-The Mario games you weren’t involved with, right?

Kondo: That’s right, just regular Mario, not Super. *laughs*

-And that’s why you found employment in the game industry.

Kondo: I also liked the synthesizer and wanted to make music myself. But I didn’t want to be a composer or a player, I wanted to do work that involved mixing behind the scenes. At that time, my friend discovered that Nintendo was coming to my university to do employee recruitment, and told me that it had good things. If that friend hadn’t been there, I might’ve ended up doing something completely different.

-When was the music for Mario created?

Kondo: It was 1985, so, the second year since I started at the company. I was 23. 25 years have passed since then, so now my children that were born at the time the game came out are entering the workforce. *laughs*

-I’m surprised it was your second year at the company. But it’s amazing that the songs you created at the time aren’t nostalgic melodies, they’re still playing an active role today. Seems that even Paul McCartney’s a fan!

Kondo: When McCartney came to Japan, I went backstage with Miyamoto and a few others, and when Miyamoto was kind enough to introduce me as the composer of Mario, Paul started singing the overworld BGM from the original game. It had been many years since its debut, so I was surprised he knew it, and really happy.

Full interview here (thanks Moblin!)