Yuzo Koshiro Interview
Join us as we sit down with the legendary videogame music producer for perhaps his most comprehensive interview to date.
If you were to ask a devout game music fan who the most well-known composers are, one of the first answers would most certainly be Yuzo Koshiro. While his most well-known work is the classic Streets of Rage 2 soundtrack, Yuzo still remains highly active in the composition of game music to this day; his most recent effort being the themes of the mega-crossover Namco X Capcom.
His family's game development company, Ancient, also continues to produce and develop new titles. Kikizo recently had the opportunity to talk with Yuzo about his recent work, the technical aspects of game music composition, and the difficulties of being a small developer in a cutthroat market.
Kikizo: So, what exactly has Ancient been up to lately?
Koshiro: We're currently working on a new game based on an anime series, which I'm also doing the music for. Unfortunately, I can't say much more than that right now. As far as music composition goes, I recently did Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2 and the theme song for Namco x Capcom.
Kikizo: The Namco x Capcom theme was the first song you composed with lyrics, isn't it? It's really nice.
Koshiro: Yes, it is. Thank you! I did the ending theme song, as well. I did everything - lyrics, composition, programming - except play the guitars. Actually, two songs in Wangan Midnight have lyrics too, but I did those after NxC... even though that game came out first.
Kikizo: So how did you get involved with NxC? Did Namco approach you after you worked on the first Wangan Midnight?
Koshiro: Well, even though both games are from Namco, they are headed by different sections of the company. The Wangan producer is a big fan of mine. As it turns out, the Namco X Capcom producer is, too. [laughs] They asked me to do the theme songs for the game, and I was more than happy to oblige.
Kikizo: That's really cool. So what would you say is your favorite video game soundtrack?
Koshiro: These days, or from way back?
Kikizo: From any time.
Koshiro: Well, back in the mid-80s, there were so many great arcade games with memorable music. My favorites are old Konami, old Sega, old Namco... too many to name! Especially Gradius, Space Harrier, and Tower of Druaga. I really got into enjoying and composing game music thanks to those three games.
Kikizo: So you just don't like more recent game music as much?
Koshiro: No, not really. I prefer older game music But more recently, I've liked Parappa and Space Channel 5.
Kikizo: Did you play Rez at all, by any chance?
Koshiro: Ah, yes! I forgot all about that one. [laughs]
Kikizo: So what would you say it is about the older music that you like more?
Koshiro: I like the older sound chips, like PSG, FM Synth, and the low-frequency samplers. They have great, unique sounds.
Kikizo: Do you think music in games is as important as music in cinema?
Koshiro: Yes, of course! It serves a similar purpose. It's actually more difficult to make music now, since you need to provide rich sound for the game scenes.
Kikizo: Maybe that's why some people prefer older music...?
Koshiro: I think so, yes. The music comes across a bit stronger since it's based on a single, specific sound chip. It's simple to understand the music, since it has a very strong melody. Newer music is mostly orchestral, and it doesn't really have the sort of presence in the game itself that the older tunes did. It's in the background and not really as clear. In constrast, the sounds of something like FM Synth are very distinctive and strong. I think most fans actually do prefer older style music.