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Koji Kondo Talks Ocarina of Time, Gives Details on Skyward Sword

Koji Kondo Talks Ocarina of Time, Gives Details on Skyward Sword

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To celebrate the 3D remake of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 3DS, we’ve been fortunate enough to have some of Koji Kondo’s time to discuss the game’s soundtrack. While this interview was conducted before the promotional soundtrack disc and 25th anniversary world tour were announced, Kondo still has some interesting things to say about his work on the Ocarina of Time soundtrack as well as the upcoming Skyward Sword title on the Wii.

Join us as we reminisce about the past and look to the future in our interview after the jump!

OSV: Hello Kondo-san. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us about your work on The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, which will be re-released on the 3DS with all new 3D visuals. This game is often cited as one of the best games of all time, so I’m hoping you can share with us your feelings about the soundtrack in general, how you think it’s held up over the years, and perhaps some things you wish you could have gone back and changed about the score looking back on it.

Koji Kondo: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is a memorable game for me because I tackled a number of different challenges in my attempt to create a unique, new sound for it. That’s why I’m very happy that people have continued to appreciate the music and sound effects in addition to the game itself. Looking back on the score, there isn’t anything in particular that I want to change.

OSV: Is there a particular moment that stands out in your mind from your time working on the soundtrack that has stuck with you to this very day? Perhaps there was a melody that resulted from the unique circumstances of working on this project that you believe could not be replicated again if you were to do it all over again? Please share with us what makes this soundtrack in particular so special.

Kondo: In the soundtrack for this remake, the hardware has changed from the Nintendo 64 to the 3DS, so the sound quality has improved. Listening to all of the songs again for the first time in a while, I was particularly struck by how much variety the songs have in terms of their atmosphere, if I do say so myself.

OSV: During your keynote speech at GDC some years back you mentioned that rhythm, balance, and interactivity are your three core philosophies on sound in videogames. Are there instances where, while playing Ocarina of Time 3D, that the music and sound design have augmented this new visual experience in unexpected and unforeseeable ways?

Kondo: The dungeons and temples have ambient music that employs sound effects and traditional instruments, so the music of these places also helps to make you feel like you’re really there. Also, from the opposite direction, the new visuals have given me the chance to imagine new music and improve my skills.

OSV: Which piece of music specifically from Ocarina of Time and from the Zelda franchise as a whole do you emotionally connect with the most?

Kondo: It’s very difficult to choose a single song, but I think the image of the original Legend of Zelda theme song flows strongly through the other games in the series. Also, this is a bit embarrassing, but the songs that I really think are good are the brief songs like “Hyrule Castle Courtyard,” “Mini Game,” and “Potion Shop,” because I really think they match the atmospheres of their locations.

OSV: The Ocarina of Time soundtrack not only received a promotional soundtrack release in most regions of the world, but there were several arrangement albums, including the Re-Arranged Album, Hyrule Symphony, and the SUPER BEST series for guitar. Why is it that you think that the Ocarina of Time soundtrack received such treatment while other titles in the series, like Twilight Princess, have yet to receive any official soundtrack release? Can you comment on these specific arrangement albums, your experiences working on them, and whether you’d like to work on similar projects again in the future?

Kondo: I’m really happy that soundtracks and arrangement albums are being sold all over the world. I think that Ocarina of Time is special because the ocarina melodies are an important element of the game and because players become familiar with those melodies throughout the game. The arrangements of a number of different artists have made the songs stand out more, and I myself have learned a lot about music from the arrangements. Of course, I would like to continue working on a variety of different games into the future.

OSV: While we’re reminiscing about your work on Ocarina of Time, would you like to take the time to share with us what we can expect from Nintendo’s next Zelda title, Skyward Sword? Are you once again responsible for the music, and if so, who will be working with you, and what tools are being use to compose the music? You mentioned at E3 last year that since the Super Mario Galaxy team got to work with a live orchestra for large portions of that score that you were hoping to do the same with Skyward Sword. Can we expect more live orchestral music for Skyward Sword?

Kondo: Our next title, Skyward Sword, also has a wide variety of impressive songs, and it has new musical gameplay elements. Hajime Wakai is in charge of the music, but I also participated in making songs. My composition tools are an electronic piano and a Mac. We use orchestras for a few different songs where we feel that doing so is appropriate.

OSV: Thank you very much for your time. We’re looking forward to hearing your memorable score in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time as well as hearing what you have in store for fans with Skyward Sword.

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