Yuzo Koshiro Interview
Join us as we sit down with the legendary videogame music producer for perhaps his most comprehensive interview to date.
Kikizo: In the newer consoles, do you need to worry about such memory limitations anymore?
Koshiro: No, I don't think so. For example, with the PS2, you have 2MB dedicated music memory. It's very spacious, and you can use things like DAW, DVD, and a compression system I call AD-PCM. There are many different ways of storing music these days.
Kikizo: Is it the same way across all the current consoles?
Koshiro: It's almost the same. I can't say anything about the XBox, since I have never worked with it personally. I hear that it's pretty easy because the tools are very good.
Kikizo: What is your favorite music genre outside of video games?
Koshiro: I love classical music, but recently I'm into techno and trance. I listen to it every day!
Kikizo: I remember you did a trance-style track for the Street Fighter Tribute Album.
Koshiro: Yes, that was actually my very first work with trance music. [laughs]
Kikizo: What do you think is the difference of scoring a large-scale epic game like Shenmue as compared to something like Bare Knuckle?
Koshiro: Well, Shenmue was a huge, huge project! Yu Suzuki had a LOT of power over the game. We actually had meetings once a week in regards to the music. He was very specific of the sort of music he wanted. He ruled everything with an iron fist. It was pretty difficult... But with something like Thor, well, I wanted to create long tunes with a lot of variety. With long games, I think people tend to get bored if the music is short and repetitive. That way the player doesn't get tired of listening to the music. With Bare Knuckle and Shinobi, I was really focusing on rhythm and beat. They provided a strong base for the action. It's a little difficult to explain, but... with action games, I think people prefer more dance-style music. Orchestral music usually doesn't go over so well.
Kikizo: Do you still use MIDI as a composition format?
Koshiro: Yes, of course. It's a central system. I can't imagine making music without it! [laughs] I think some people use DAW instead of MIDI, though... there's a system called ACID as well that uses only audio samples like WAV, MP3... but not MIDI. If you want to create orchestral or dance style music, though, you really should use MIDI.
Kikizo: Do you ever get tired of doing game music?
Koshiro: Well, um, my mom runs this company, so I can't really get away from it... [laughs] If I could, though, I probably would.
Kikizo: When you compose a new soundtrack, what do you do for inspiration?
Koshiro: My inspiration comes from many, many sources. Sometimes I'll buy lots of CDs and listen to many types of music, or maybe watch some movies, eat tasty food... [laughs] But recently, I play outside with my son every weekend. I'll take him lots of different places. That really helps with inspiration.
Kikizo: Is it tougher these days for a small developer like you?
Koshiro: Oh, yes. The costs of game development have increased for the newer systems. They are also more complicated to develop for. I hear that people are very worried about the cost of developing for the upcoming consoles like the X360 and Revolution. You need to put more work into pretty, realistic graphics like Square-Enix's. I'm quite worried.
Kikizo: More and more small companies are turning toward development on the portable consoles, it seems.
Koshiro: That's true. Actually, we are planning some cellphone and portable games. We only have around 20 employees, so it's tough for us to do stuff for the newer consoles.
Kikizo: Are you planning on working with the PSP any? Rumor has it it's actually quite expensive to develop for.
Koshiro: Well, I have heard that the cost is almost the same as making a PS2 game. So I don't know...
Kikizo: What about the DS?
Koshiro: We do want to make original DS games, yes. We're thinking about some ideas about using the stylus and touch screen, but we don't have anything concrete yet. It's very tough, since it's so new.
Kikizo: Do you think that eventually that we will see sequels to some of your older games?
Koshiro: If I had a chance, I would definitely create sequels. The problem is, other companies own the rights to the games, like Sega with Thor. We'd need their permission first, but we would absolutely love to do them!
Our thanks to Yuzo for his time and best wishes on all future work!