Game Music

One Picture, One-Thousand Words: Takayuki Nakamura Talks PictureBook Games: Pop-Up Pursuit

One Picture, One-Thousand Words: Takayuki Nakamura Talks PictureBook Games: Pop-Up Pursuit

September 1, 2009 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook One Picture, One-Thousand Words: Takayuki Nakamura Talks PictureBook Games: Pop-Up Pursuiton Twitter

We’ve been hearing a lot about Takayuki Nakamura lately. Earlier this month, we heard him talk about a variety of topics with other game composers at Noisycroak’s First Game Composer Roundtable Discussion where he was awarded the MVC (most valuable composer) award. Earlier in July, however, Patrick told us about his latest project, PictureBook Games: Pop-Up Pursuit, and we’ve been able to get a word in with Nakamura-san to talk more about the game’s music.

We were definitely surprised to see him working on this whimiscal WiiWare title after his heavy electronic work from the Lumines series, but it sounds as though he captured the essence of the game pretty well. We talk about the music he created for the game as well as his work on the Wii, his plans for his Brainstorm record label, and a recent album he worked on with some composers from Korea.

Check out what Takayuki Nakamura has to say after the jump.

OSV: Hello Nakamura-san. Thanks for speaking with us today. Can you start by telling us how you came to work on PictureBook Games: Pop-Up Pursuit? It seems like a different kind of game for you.

Nakamura: The main reason I became involved is that I have some friends at the developer Grounding Inc. who I had previously worked with on the production of Ninety-Nine Nights and Meteos. I was happy that they nominated me to work on a new project.

OSV: The game is obviously more light-hearted than some of your past titles. How did this factor into the music you’ve created? Your fans didn’t know you could create such soothing music!

Nakamura: Are all the sounds in the game, sound effects and music functioning well? You have to think about those things for any game. I was thinking about the atmosphere of PictureBook Games: Pop-Up Pursuit more than anything, especially because it’s a game where you have fun with your family and friends.

OSV: Your most popular work is from the Lumines series, where you’ve been able to create some very unique music. Will we see this same pioneering spirit with PictureBook Games: Pop-Up Pursuit? Was this a particularly fun or challenging project given the theme?

Nakamura: First of all, this was my first time writing music for a board game so the toughest thing was coming up with ideas for what kinds of melodies I should write. Once an idea solidified, it wasn’t hard to create after that point. The music changes bit by bit in conjunction with the progression of the game.

OSV: How many minutes of music are you creating for the game? Will there be any sort of soundtrack release?

Nakamura: I think I wrote 5~6 songs for PictureBook Games: Pop-Up Pursuit. There are 2 main songs in the game. The other songs vary depending on the situation.

OSV: To my knowledge, this is the first time you’re working on the Wii. How do you feel about the hardware, and have there been any specific limitations on the music you’ve been able to create given that it’s a downloadable title?

Nakamura: Actually this isn’t the first time I’ve worked on the Wii. This would be the third title. There’s Shanghai Wii released by Sunsoft and LONPOS by Genki. I worked on the music for these titles. As a downloadable title, the musical limit is an issue. It isn’t a really big problem, but it is necessary to come up with ingenious tricks to make use of the limited memory available.

OSV: What tools did you use to create the music for this game? I think you’re a piano guy, so will we hear lots of piano work? Are any of the instruments performed live.

Nakamura: I’m actually not a pianist. Of course I often use a keyboard for songwriting, but I’m usually playing guitar. The guitar is being played the entire time.

OSV: You contributed to an album called Ten Plants 2: Children’s Song some years ago. Was this an interesting project, and do you think it’s important that game composers get together outside of games and create original music? Your track from the album, “Children Song,” seems right in line with PictureBook Games: Pop-Up Pursuit!

Nakamura: Ten Plants 2: Children’s Song is a fairly old project. I think it’s important for game songwriters to collaborate on projects. These kind of projects lead me to believe that it will become more important for people within our profession to communicate with each other.

OSV: I also had a question about your track on 2step Articlez. This was published by Korean artist Electronic Boutique’s label, Square Record. How did you come to work on this project, and what are your thoughts regarding game music in Korea?

Nakamura: It was 2 years ago but I decided to work on the project after receiving a request via mail about it. I was able to make music that was certainly more relaxed than with a regular game. I don’t know a lot about the Korean game industry but I’ve heard that game music has gotten more popular there. It was a few years ago, but there was this Korean-made MMORPG called Ultimate Academy RAN Online where I did work on a part of the music. Soon after the game was available via Excite Japan’s website.

OSV: You operate a music label called Brainstorm. Can you tell us about this company, and what you goals have been with it?

Nakamura: Brainstorm is a company I created for the sake of my game music work. We also release music CDs. Right now including myself, there are 4 people on staff who work on a variety of game sound related work. I’d like to continue to be able to create great products.

OSV: Your last album release was L.II Remixes in 2008. What else have you been up to over the past couple of years, and can we expect to see more music released on Brainstorm in the future?

Nakamura: After L.II Remixes, I haven’t made another CD. However, I have had a lot of game-related work since then. LUMINES, for me, was a game with such an impact that it was enough to create my own label to release CDs for it.

OSV: Because there isn’t a whole lot of information available about you in English, I was hoping you could tell us about your background. How did you get into music? Can you discuss the progression of your career?

Nakamura: I used to play in a band with friends when I was in school. I discovered Sega when I was looking for work after college. I didn’t know much about games at the time but I got to know Outrun and Hang-on and thought the music in those games was awesome, so I sent a demo tape to Sega and they hired me.

During my days at Sega I mainly made music for arcade games. The music for old games like Virtua Fighter and Outrunners is mine. I did a lot of others too. After that, I left Sega in 1996 and started working at a small production company called DreamFactory, where I wrote music for games like Tobal2 and EHRGEIZ. They’re both fighting games that have a maniacal fan following all over the world.

In 1999 I started “Brainstorm Co. Ltd.,” which is still around today. By going independent, I’ve been able to get work from various companies. I’ve been able to work on countless projects over these 10 years. The Lumines series and Meteos series were big hits and are still my signature titles.

OSV: Can you tell us what you’ll be working on next? We want to hear more of your music more often.

Nakamura: Thank you. Unfortunately, there is nothing specific that I can publicly announce in terms of projects just yet. Lately, game creator Kazutoshi Iida and I have started up a band and although it isn’t game-related there’s a possibly that an announcement on the music is forthcoming. When that happens, I will let OSV know.

OSV: Thank you for your time. We look forward to talking to you again soon!

[Special thanks to Nintendo for coordinating and translating this interview, and Chris Ling for additional translation]

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