Yuzo Koshiro at Chicago's "Play! A Video Game Symphony" concert in 2006
|Born||December 12, 1967|
Hino, Tokyo, Japan
|Associated acts||Motohiro Kawashima|
Yuzo Koshiro (古代 祐三, Koshiro Yūzō, born December 12, 1967 in Hino, Tokyo) is a Japanese video game musician programmer, and president of the game development company Ancient. He is often regarded as one of the most influential innovators in chiptune and video game music, producing music in a number of genres, including various electronic genres (such as breakbeat, electro, hardcore, house, jungle, techno, and trance), experimental, symphonic, hip hop, jazz, and synth-rock.
Nintendo Power once stated that Koshiro was "arguably the greatest game-music composer of the 16-bit age" and that he "created some of the most memorable game music of the late '80s and early '90s." watermark for what music in games could sound like." The Streets of Rage soundtracks are considered ahead of their time, featuring a "blend of swaggering house synths," "dirty" electro-funk, and early trance elements.1UP stated he was the "king" of FM synthesis chiptune music. He has produced some of the most influential role-playing video game scores, for titles such as Nihon Falcom's Dragon Slayer and Ys series, as well as ActRaiser and Beyond Oasis . GameAxis Unwired stated that his "progressive, catchy, techno-style compositions" for games such as The Revenge of Shinobi , Misty Blue , and the Streets of Rage series were "far more advanced than what players were used to" and set a "new high
His influence also extends to the popular music industry, particularly within the electronic dance music genre.His work remains highly regarded within the chiptune community, and has influenced artists outside of it, including electronic music artists such as Ikonika, BT, Labrinth, Martyn, Joker, Darkstar, Danger, and Just Blaze. Koshiro's Streets of Rage soundtracks in particular have been compared to later electronic dance music, and have influenced electronica, grime and dubstep producers. Koshiro and his sister Ayano founded the game development company Ancient in 1990.
Yuzo Koshiro was born in Tokyo on December 12, 1967. His mother, Tomo Koshiro, was a pianist. She taught him how to play the piano at the age of three, and by the age of five, he had a strong command of it. In 1975, he began taking music lessons from the acclaimed film composer Joe Hisaishi (later known for his soundtracks to Hayao Miyazaki films), and studied with him for three years. Everything Koshiro has learned after that has since been self-taught.
While he was still in high school during the early 1980s, Koshiro began composing music on the NEC PC-8801 as a hobby, including mockups of early arcade game music from Namco, Konami, and Sega. The sequencing skills and experience he gained from this would later be utilized in his early video game projects.The video games that influenced him most were The Tower of Druaga (1984), Space Harrier (1985), and Gradius (1985). The video game music soundtracks to these games inspired him to become a video game composer.
In a 1992 interview, Koshiro said that his favorite music genres are new wave, dance music, technopop, classical, and hard rock, and that his favorite Western bands are Van Halen and Soul II Soul.
Koshiro's first composing job was with Nihon Falcom in 1986 at the age of 18. Falcom used compositions from the PC-8801 demo tape he had sent them in their Dragon Slayer action role-playing game Xanadu Scenario II , for its opening theme and several dungeon levels.He also wrote the opening song in Romancia that same year. His compositions for these early games were influenced by arcade game music and Japanese bands such as The Alfee. He then produced the soundtrack to Dragon Slayer IV / Legacy of the Wizard (1987), which was influenced by the sounds of early Konami games. His most well-known Falcom works are his soundtracks for Sorcerian (1987) and the early Ys games, Ys I (1987) and Ys II (1988). These early music productions mainly featured rock and fusion music. The TurboGrafx-CD versions of the first three Ys games (from 1989 to 1991) are notable for their very early use of Red Book audio in video games. Music from the Ys games were also employed in the Ys anime.
All of these early soundtracks were produced using the FM synthesis sound chip of the PC-8801. Despite later advances in audio technology, Koshiro would continue to use older PC-8801 hardware to produce many of his later video game soundtracks, including the Streets of Rage and Etrian Odyssey soundtracks.His soundtracks for early Nihon Falcom games, such as the Dragon Slayer and Ys series, are widely regarded as some of the most influential role-playing video game scores.
Following his separation with Falcom, Koshiro became a freelancer, composing music for many other companies. His early freelance projects included the Sharp X68000 port of Bosconian , Bothtec's action role-playing game The Scheme (1988) for the PC-8801, and Enix's visual novel adventure game Misty Blue for the PC-9801 in 1990.The latter two soundtracks featured early Eurobeat music. His most notable freelance work was for Sega, where he composed music for the Shinobi series and the Streets of Rage series, as well as Quintet, where he composed the soundtracks to ActRaiser (1990) and ActRaiser 2 (1993).
His first freelance work for Sega was the soundtrack to The Revenge of Shinobi (1989), for which he produced houseand "progressive, catchy, techno-style compositions" that fused electronic dance music with traditional Japanese music. His soundtrack for ActRaiser (1990), on the other hand, was mainly classical and orchestral. While working on ActRaiser, in order to get around the SNES's 64 KB memory limitation which limited the number of instruments that can be used and prevented the reloading of samples, Koshiro developed a sample loading system that worked with the ROM cartridge memory, swapping samples from the ROM data on the fly. This allowed him to "load parts of the music gradually as needed, and also change it quickly between stages or parts of a stage" which the "original system couldn't do it with its restrictions." A similar system was used by other companies for later SNES games such as Squaresoft's Seiken Densetsu 3 (1995) and Namco Tales Studio's Tales of Phantasia (1995).
In 1990, Koshiro helped found Ancient Corp., which contributed to the development of a number of games, such as the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog and Beyond Oasis . The company was also founded by his mother, Tomo Koshiro, while his sister Ayano Koshiro works at the company as an art/character/graphic designer and was also the art designer for the ActRaiser games.His sister Ayano has designed characters and graphics for several games Koshiro has worked on, including the Streets of Rage (Bare Knuckle in Japan) series, Ys, and ActRaiser.
While working with Ancient, he composed the soundtrack for the 8-bit version of Sonic the Hedgehog in 1991. He adapted several pieces of music from the original 16-bit version, while the rest of the soundtrack consisted of his own original music.
His soundtracks for the Streets of Rage series (known as Bare Knuckle in Japan) from 1991 to 1994 were composed using then outdated PC-8801 hardware alongside his own original audio programming language. According to Koshiro: "For Bare Knuckle I used the PC88 and an original programming language I developed myself. The original was called MML, Music Macro Language. It is based on NEC's BASIC program, but I modified it heavily. It was more a BASIC-style language at first, but I modified it to be something more like Assembly. I called it ‘Music Love'. I used it for all the Bare Knuckle games."
The soundtracks for Streets of Rage (1991) and Streets of Rage 2 (1992) were influenced by house, techno, hardcore techno,breakbeat, funk and ethnic music. He also attempted to reproduce the Roland TR-808 and TR-909 beats and Roland TB-303 synths using FM synthesis. The soundtrack for Streets of Rage 2 in particular is considered "revolutionary" and ahead of its time, for its "amazing blend of swaggering house synths, dirty" electro-funk and "trancey electronic textures that would feel as comfortable in a nightclub as a video game."
His CD soundtracks became best-sellers in Japan during the early 1990s.In 1993, Electronic Games listed the first two Streets of Rage games as having some of the best video game music soundtracks they "ever heard." They described Koshiro as "just about universally acknowledged as the most gifted composer currently working in the video game field."
For the soundtrack to Streets of Rage 3 (1994), he created a new composition method called the "Automated Composing System" to produce "fast-beat techno like jungle."It was the most advanced techno technique of the time, incorporating heavily randomized sequences. This resulted in innovative and experimental sounds generated automatically that, according to Koshiro, "you ordinarily never could imagine on your own." This method was very rare at the time, but has since become popular among techno and trance music producers to get "unexpected and odd sounds." The soundtrack also had elements of abstract, experimental, gabber, and trance music. The experimental electronic music was not very well received upon release, but has since been considered to be ahead of its time. According to Mean Machines , "ironically it pre-dated the 'trance' era that came a short while after release."
Koshiro was one of the first composers credited under his real name in a time when several other Japanese developers were credited under pen names.
Also in 1994, Koshiro co-composed a well known soundtrack for the Mega-CD version of Eye of the Beholder , a dungeon crawl role-playing video game ported over from the original by Japanese developer Opera House and published by Sega.That same year, his soundtrack for Beyond Oasis utilized a late romantic style of music, which he later also utilized for Legend of Oasis (1996), Merregnon (2000), and Warriors of the Lost Empire (2007).
He also composed the soundtrack for Sega's Shenmue (1999) alongside Takenobu Mitsuyoshi and a few others, with Koshiro contributing fifteen original compositions to the soundtrack. Three other staff members of Ancient also worked on Shenmue.He later composed the soundtracks for the Wangan Midnight series (2001 onwards) and Namco × Capcom (2005). These were the first projects where he wrote the lyrics along with the music. For the Wangan Midnight series in particular, his compositions were mostly trance music, a style he was previously unfamiliar with.
He composed the main theme of the French TV channel Nolife , which launched in 2007. The theme was released as part of the album Tamiuta in 2008.Some of Koshiro's latest work includes music for the Etrian Odyssey series, the Wangan Midnight series, and the 7th Dragon series. He was also brought back to compose for Streets of Rage 4 , along with Kawashima, Yoko Shimomura, Hideki Naganuma, and Keiji Yamagishi.
|2004||Symphonic Game Music Concert, Gewandhaus||ActRaiser Medley||Music arranger|
|2005||Chamber Music Game Concert, Gewandhaus||ActRaiser Medley|
|2006||Play! A Video Game Symphony, Rosemont Theater||Sonic the Hedgehog|
|Symphonic Game Music Concert, Gewandhaus||The Revenge of Shinobi|
|2007||Play! A Video Game Symphony, Stockholm|
|Play! A Video Game Symphony, Prague|
|Play! A Video Game Symphony, Singapore||Disc jockey|
|Symphonic Game Music Concert, Gewandhaus||New Super Mario Bros.||Music arranger|
|2008||Symphonic Shades – Hülsbeck in Concert||Jim Power in Mutant Planet|
|2017||Diggin' In The Carts - World Tour , The Regent Theatre, Los Angeles||Disc jockey with Motohiro Kawashima|
|Diggin' In The Carts - World Tour, Liquidroom, Tokyo|
|Diggin' In The Carts - World Tour, fabric, London|
|2018||Diggin' In The Carts, La Gaîté Lyrique , Paris|
All works listed below had scores written by Koshiro unless otherwise noted.
|1986||Xanadu Scenario II||with Takahito Abe|
|Romancia||composed the opening theme|
|1987||Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished||with Mieko Ishikawa|
|Legacy of the Wizard|
|Space Harrier||sound effects for the X68000 version|
|Sorcerian||with various others|
|Dark Storm: Demon Crystal|
|The Gate of Labyrinth|
|1988||Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished – The Final Chapter||with Mieko Ishikawa and Hideya Nagata|
|The Return of Ishtar||MSX version|
|The Curse of Mars|
|1989||Wanderers from Super Scheme|
|The Revenge of Shinobi|
|Bosconian||X68000 version with Hideya Nagata|
|1991||The G.G. Shinobi|
|Streets of Rage|
|Sonic the Hedgehog||8-bit version|
|Star Wars: Attack on the Death Star||arrangements|
|1992||Super Adventure Island|
|Eye of the Beholder||PC-98 version with Yuji Yamada|
|Gage||with Ayako Yoda|
|Batman Returns||sound producer on the 8-bit versions|
|The G.G. Shinobi II: The Silent Fury||with Motohiro Kawashima|
|Streets of Rage 2|
|1993||Slap Fight MD|
|1994||Streets of Rage 3||with Motohiro Kawashima|
|Eye of the Beholder||Sega CD version with Motohiro Kawashima|
|1995||Miracle Casino Paradise|
|Manji Psy Yuuki||with Motohiro Kawashima|
|1996||Zork I: The Great Underground Empire||PlayStation version with Motohiro Kawashima|
|The Legend of Oasis|
|Vatlva||with Motohiro Kawashima|
|1997||Culdcept||with Takeshi Yanagawa|
|1998||Fox Junction||with Motohiro Kawashima and Ryuji Iuchi|
|1999||Shenmue||with various others|
|2001||Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune|
|Shenmue II||with various others|
|Car Battler Joe||with Tomonori Hayashibe|
|2004||Amazing Island||with Motohiro Kawashima|
|Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune|
|Dokapon the World|
|2005||Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 2|
|Namco × Capcom||with various others|
|Dance Dance Revolution Extreme 2||composed "You gotta move it"|
|2006||Ueki no Housoku||with Motohiro Kawashima and Takeshi Yanagawa|
|Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin||with Michiru Yamane|
|Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3|
|Katekyo Hitman Reborn! Dream Hyper Battle!||with Motohiro Kawashima and Takeshi Yanagawa|
|Warriors of the Lost Empire|
|2008||Super Smash Bros. Brawl||arrangements with various others|
|Etrian Odyssey II|
|Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 3 DX|
|Half-Minute Hero||with various others|
|2010||Dragon Ball Online|
|Etrian Odyssey III|
|Protect Me Knight|
|Jaseiken Necromancer: Nightmare Reborn||with Takeshi Yanagawa|
|Criminal Girls||with various others|
|Dead Heat||with Motohiro Kawashima|
|2011||7th Dragon 2020|
|Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 4|
|2012||Kid Icarus: Uprising||with Motoi Sakuraba, Masafumi Takada, Noriyuki Iwadare, Takahiro Nishi, and Yasunori Mitsuda|
|Etrian Odyssey IV|
|Layton Brothers: Mystery Room||with Takeshi Yanagawa|
|Time and Eternity|
|2013||7th Dragon 2020-II|
|Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millennium Girl|
|Momoiro Billionaire!||with Motohiro Kawashima|
|2014||Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5|
|Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth||composed "Disturbances - The One Called from Beyond"|
|Gotta Protectors||with Hisayoshi Ogura, Motoaki Furukawa, Shinji Hosoe, and Hiroshi Kawaguchi|
|Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U||arrangements with various others|
|Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight|
|2015||Etrian Mystery Dungeon||with Takeshi Yanagawa|
|Chunithm: Seelisch Tact||composed "Grab your sword"|
|7th Dragon III Code: VFD|
|Project X Zone 2||composed the main theme|
|Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 5 DX|
|2016||Cosmic Cavern 3671|
|Puzzle & Dragons X||with Kenji Ito, Akira Yamaoka, and Keigo Ozaki|
|Etrian Odyssey V|
|2017||Etrian Mystery Dungeon 2|
|RXN -Raijin-||with various others|
|2018||Secret of Mana||arrangements with various others|
|Crystal of Re:union|
|Wangan Midnight Maximum Tune 6|
|Etrian Odyssey Nexus|
|Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom||with Motoi Sakuraba, Michiru Yamane, Keiki Kobayashi, and Takeshi Yanagawa|
|Super Smash Bros. Ultimate||arrangements with various others|
|2019||16bit Rhythm Land||with various others|
|198X||with Anton Dromberg and Daniel Rosenqvist|
|SolSeraph||composed the main theme|
|Sega Genesis Mini||dedicated console featuring over 40 emulated Sega Genesis games; Koshiro composed the menu music|
|Susume!! Mamotte Knight: Hime no Totsugeki Serenade|
|The Takeover||with James Ronald|
|Rakugaki Kingdom||composed "Sunny Days Battle"|
|Streets of Rage 4||with various others|
|The Wonderful 101: Remastered||arrangements with various others|
Chiptune, also known as chip music, is a style of synthesized electronic music made using the programmable sound generator (PSG) sound chips or synthesizers in vintage arcade machines, computers and video game consoles. The term is commonly used to refer to tracker format music which intentionally sounds similar to older PSG-created music, as well as music that combines PSG sounds with modern musical styles. It has been described as "an interpretation of many genres" since any existing song can be arranged in a chiptune style defined more by choice of instrument and timbre than specific style elements.
Video game music is the soundtrack that accompanies video games. Early video game music was once limited to simple melodies of early sound synthesizer technology. These limitations inspired the style of music known as chiptunes, which combines simple melodic styles with more complex patterns or traditional music styles, and became the most popular sound of the first video games.
Ys is a series of action role-playing games developed by Nihon Falcom. The first game in the series, Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished, was released on the NEC PC-8801 in 1987. Ys games have also appeared on the Sharp X1, MSX2, FM-7, NEC PC-9801, Sharp X68000, Master System, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, Famicom, NES, Nintendo DS, Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, TurboGrafx-CD, Apple IIGS, mobile phones, Super NES, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox One. As of 2017, the series had sold over 4.8 million copies worldwide.
Dragon Slayer is a series of video games developed and published by Nihon Falcom. The first Dragon Slayer title is an early action role-playing game, released in 1984 for the NEC PC-88 computer system and ported by Square for the MSX. Designed by Yoshio Kiya, the game gave rise to a series of sequels, most of them created by Falcom, with the exception of Faxanadu by Hudson Soft. The Dragon Slayer series was historically significant, both as a founder of the Japanese role-playing game industry, and as the progenitor of the action role-playing game genre.
Streets of Rage is a side-scrolling beat 'em up video game developed and published by Sega for the Mega Drive/Genesis in 1991. It is the first installment of the Streets of Rage series, followed by Streets of Rage 2, Streets of Rage 3 and Streets of Rage 4. The game was later converted to the Game Gear, Sega CD and Master System, and was also released for the Wii's Virtual Console and for the iOS via the App Store, as well as being made available as part of Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection in 2009 on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles.
Nihon Falcom Corporation is a Japanese video game company who primarily develop role-playing video games, most notably in the Ys and The Legend of Heroes series. The company was founded in 1981, making them one of the oldest role-playing game developers still in existence today. They are credited with pioneering the action role-playing game genre, the Japanese role-playing game industry, and the development of the personal computer software industry in Japan as a whole.
Quintet Co., Ltd. was a Japanese video game developer, founded in April 1989. The company name is derived from musical terminology, as well as five elements of game design—planning, graphics, sound, programming and producing. Quintet was most active in the 1990s, when it had a strong relationship with Enix ; the company was also a member of the GD-NET group of Sega Saturn developers. Quintet has not been active since the 2000s and are likely defunct.
Streets of Rage 3, known in Japan as Bare Knuckle III, is a side-scrolling beat 'em up developed and published by Sega in 1994 for the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis. It is the third installment of the Streets of Rage series and the last game in the original trilogy. It was later released for the Japanese version of Sonic Gems Collection for the Nintendo GameCube and PlayStation 2, and for the Wii Virtual Console in September 2007. The game also appeared in Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
Streets of Rage 2, released in Japan as Bare Knuckle II: The Requiem of the Deadly Battle, is a side-scrolling beat 'em up video game published by Sega in 1992 for the Mega Drive/Genesis and developed by an ad hoc team of several companies: Sega, Ancient, Shout! Designworks, MNM Software and H.I.C. It is the second game in the Streets of Rage series, a sequel to Streets of Rage and followed by Streets of Rage 3 and Streets of Rage 4.
Popful Mail: Magical Fantasy Adventure is a side-scrolling platform game. Popful Mail was developed by Nihon Falcom for the NEC PC-8801 computer in 1991 and for the PC-9801 in 1992. It was later ported to PC Engine CD-ROM by NEC Home Electronics and to the Sega CD by "Sega Falcom", an alliance of the two game companies Sega and Falcom. In 1994, Falcom themselves remade Popful Mail and released it on Super Famicom. SIMS Co., Ltd. translated the Sega CD version and Working Designs published it in North America in late 1994. The PC-8801, PC-9801 and PC Engine CD-ROM versions are for the most part similar to each other, but the Super Famicom and Sega CD versions differ significantly both from each other and from the previous versions.
Ys: The Vanished Omens is the first installment of Ys, an action role-playing video game series developed by Nihon Falcom in 1987. The name is commonly misspelled Y's due to an error on the packaging of an English-language release.
Streets of Rage is a series of side-scrolling beat 'em up video games, centering on the efforts of several ex-police vigilantes trying to rid a fictional, large American city from a crime syndicate that has corrupted its local government. The first three games in the franchise were developed and published by Sega for the Sega Genesis in the early 1990s, and have since been ported and re-released on various platforms. A fourth entry, Streets of Rage 4, was released in 2020.
The Streets of Rage series of beat 'em up action video games by Sega are known for their memorable in-game electronic music, produced by noted video game music composer Yuzo Koshiro. The series has inspired three soundtracks featuring music from the games.
Sorcerian is an action role-playing game developed by Nihon Falcom, as the fifth in the Dragon Slayer line of games. It was originally released for the NEC PC-8801 in 1987, and was later ported to other personal computer platforms such as the NEC PC-9801, the NEC PC-88VA, the Sharp X1 Turbo, and the MSX2, for which it was released under the title Dragon Slayer V: Sorcerian. An English version for MS-DOS PCs was published by Sierra Entertainment in 1990, ports for the Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, Apple IIGS and Macintosh platforms were announced, but not released.
Ys II: Ancient Ys Vanished - The Final Chapter is an action role-playing video game developed by Nihon Falcom, and first released on June 24, 1988 for the PC-8801 and PC-9801. It is the sequel to Ys I: Ancient Ys Vanished, and takes place immediately following the end of the first game. The game has received a very large number of ports and remakes over the years.
In video games, music can be streamed, where the audio is pre-recorded and played back when required. While early video games were restricted to sequenced music, streaming music has become a more viable option as technology has improved.
Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes is a role-playing game developed by Nihon Falcom. It is the sixth game in the Dragon Slayer line of games, and the first in The Legend of Heroes series.
Xanadu, also known as Xanadu: Dragon Slayer II, is an action role-playing game developed by Nihon Falcom and released in 1985 for the PC-8801, X1, PC-8001, PC-9801, FM-7 and MSX computers. Enhanced remakes were later released for the Sega Saturn, PC-9801 and Windows platforms. It is the second in the Dragon Slayer series, preceded by Dragon Slayer and followed by Dragon Slayer Jr: Romancia, which, as most games in the Dragon Slayer series, have very little relation with each other.
Motohiro Kawashima is a Japanese video game composer and techno producer. He is best known for his collaborations with composer Yuzo Koshiro on various games, including Streets of Rage 2 and 3. He graduated from Kunitachi College of Music.
Streets of Rage 4 is a beat 'em up video game developed by Dotemu, Lizardcube, and Guard Crush Games. The game is a continuation of Sega's Streets of Rage series, which was a trilogy of games that released in the early 1990s for the Sega Genesis. It was released for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on April 30, 2020.
Yuzo Koshiro, the musician responsible for ActRaiser's amazing score, is arguably the greatest game-music composer of the 16-bit age. Equally comfortable composing classical or techno, Koshiro built up a faithful fan base by creating some of the most memorable game music of the late '80s and early '90s.