Zelda, Mario, Metal Gear Solid, Assassin’s Creed, LittleBigPlanet, God of War… These are all popular video games which have sold millions of copies all over the world, and yet the writers of the music you hum to often go unacknowledged.
Mark Brown, the host of Game Maker’s Toolkit has insightfully pointed out on Twitter some composers of popular games whose names sadly remain unknown.
A major name in Nintendo is Manaka Kataoka who composed the music for The Legend of Zeldagames Breath of the Wild and Spirit Tracks, Animal Crossing games City Folk and New Leaf, Wii Fit and Super Smash Bros for Wii U. Her credits are extensive, her music is loved and yet her name is unknown. She’s not even mentioned in The Making of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild video!
Moving onto Mario, Soyo Oka composed the music for Super Mario Kart (including the renowned and frequently covered ‘Rainbow Road’) and Super Mario All-Stars. Shinobu Tanaka composed the music for subsequent Mario Kart versions as well Super Mario Sunshine. Soyo’s credits also include SimCity and Pilotwings. Minako Hamano has credits in Mario Kart: Super Circuit but is probably best known as the composer of Metroid as well as Donkey Kong Country Returns.
Other notable names include Manami Matsumae, known for composing Mega Man, Junko Tamiya composed the music for Street Fighter 2010: The Final Fight amongst many other titles, Yoko Shimomura composed Kingdom Hearts and the Final Fantasy series, and Rika Muranaka‘s most notable works feature in Metal Gear Solid.
So far, we have only discussed Japanese composers, but another notable composer is Winifred Phillips. Hailing from America, Winifred has composed music for Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation, LittleBigPlanet and God of War as well as many others. She has won multiple awards and written a book about her field.
Despite Winifred’s accolades, it is clear game music composers often go unrecognised. Oh, and all the composers mentioned in this article are women! As most of the names mentioned are Japanese, it is forgivable in Western society not to have known their gender. However, it is important to note that the music in many of your favourite video games will have been composed by women within such a male-dominated industry.