Hirohiko Takayama, game composer of Friday the 13th, Xexyz,
and many other Nintendo Entertainment System and Family Computer titles, has honored the site
with an exclusive interview just in time for Halloween.
Takayama, it is an honor to be able to speak with you. I am such a fan
of your work. Thank you for agreeing to an interview.
Hi, Michael. This
is Hirohiko Takayama. Sorry for the late. And sorry, I think my English
is not good.
made you want to work in the video game industry, and how did you first
start out composing game music?
Conscious of my
first music at age 7. Music was the soundtrack of film and television
and commercials. I was the child who heard a soundtrack. And I wanted
to make film music in the future.
The reason that
began work of game music is because I thought that there is not a difference
in a game music and a film music.
What sort of
equipment did you use to compose Nintendo Entertainment System/Family Computer soundtracks?
Prophet-5, YAMAHA DX7, Roland D-50 and more
Computers: NEC PC9801,
Roland MC-4, Roland MC-500
What was the
most difficult thing about composing music for the Nintendo Entertainment System/Family Computer?
Many producers love
game music. But I love film music.
Producers said, "I
want the game music!" I had a hard fight with that opinion every
How long did
it typically take to compose an Nintendo Entertainment System soundtrack like Friday the 13th?
I do not remember
the events of very long ago. But I think probably about two to three
LJN, an American
toy company, published Friday the 13th but they did not develop
the game. I believe Pack-in-Video did? Do you remember the names of
any of the people who worked on the game?
I do not remember
that person. Developed company is [Atlus]. Japanese company.
What was it like
working in Japan on Nintendo Entertainment System games for an American company like LJN? Are
there any funny or interesting stories or conflicts during the development
of the LJN games (NFL Football, Gotcha!, The Karate
Kid, Friday the 13th, etc.)?
I did not always
have the consciousness that made game music. Because it was always an
intention of film music. And, I do not conscious of a Japanese company
or an American company.
If you could,
please take me through a typical day working as a game composer back
during the Nintendo Entertainment System/Family Computer days.
I don't remember.
The game soundtrack
to Friday the 13th is so moody and chilling. The melody that
plays when you're inside of the cabins is one of the most haunting tracks
on the Nintendo Entertainment System. I credit your music for making that game so scary (it's
the only Nintendo Entertainment System game that has ever made me jump out of my chair)! Did you
draw from any influences while composing the music for the game?
My favorite film
music composers are Nino Rota, Ennio Morricone, Burt Bacharach, Francis
Ray, Bernard Herrmann [Psycho composer for Alfred Hitchcock],
Ryuichi Sakamoto. I think maybe I received influence from them.
love Friday the 13th because it's so unique, but many people
criticize the game for its difficulty and repetitiveness. How would
you respond to the criticism and what is your opinion of the game?
I don't have any
the music for Ghostbusters II on the Game Boy (a game very similar
to New Ghostbusters II on the Family Computer and the Nintendo Entertainment System in Europe).
It must have been fun remixing the famous theme song by Ray Parker Jr.
What was it like working on that game? Were you a fan of the Ghostbusters?
I used to that theme
music, because I received permission to use to theme music. I don't
have any fondness for him and the movie.
love the music in Xexyz. How did you go about creating the soundtrack?
Until then, I preferred
to use a taste of jazz and classical. However, I adopted a taste of
rock for Xexyz.
You also worked
on Sunman, which was once supposed to be a Superman game, for
Sunsoft. What was that experience like? Do you know if there was any
reason why the game was cancelled?
I don't know anything
about the history has been canceled. I forgot what music. But I remember
that was house music. Kenji Eno [best known for the survival horror
series D] is the producer of this game.
Have you ever
seen the hidden message before in the Family Computer game Erika to Satoru
no Yume Bouken? Some of the music appears to be taken from the karate
tournament level in The Karate Kid, another LJN game that you
worked on. Your name is mentioned. Do you know the story behind this
hidden in-game message? I believe the person who programmed it is named
[A little background:
A disgruntled programmer wrote a nasty series of rants inside of the
game in which he goes after his fellow employees, accusing of them of
such thing as sleeping with six men and then coming into work without
showering; visiting Soap Lands; and having a larger collection of pornography
than he does.]
I knew this message
when many years after the sale of this game. I saw the message, however,
I don't know other information.
What is the one
Nintendo Entertainment System/Family Computer soundtrack you worked on that you're most proud of?
What is your
favorite Nintendo Entertainment System/Family Computer soundtrack besides the ones that you have worked
I'm not interested
in the game. I almost do not play games. So I do not remember.
Have you ever
gone back and recorded your game music using real instruments?
I played the "Theme
of the Bistro" (Erika to Satoru no Yume Bouken) with my friend's
Maybe, theme of Xexyz and theme of Friday the 13th will
be included in my next solo album.
Do you still
compose game music for a living? What are your current music projects?
I have not make
a game music right now. Now I'm making music for TV commercial, video,
website and more. And, making my solo album.
Twitter : http://twitter.com/hirotkym