Game Music

Sound Director Kenta Nagata Talks New Super Mario Bros. Wii

February 2, 2010 | | 2 Comments Share thison Facebook Sound Director Kenta Nagata Talks New Super Mario Bros. Wiion Twitter

There was no doubt that New Super Mario Bros. Wii would be hugely successful. The game kind of came out of nowhere, and it has been rocking the sales charts since it was released at the tail end of 2009. We’ve been trying to hunt down the audio team for an interview, and while I admit it took longer than we had hoped, at least we got it done!

Joining us is New Super Mario Bros. Wii Sound Director Kenta Nagata to tell us about how the team approached the game’s music, from why Mario sports a Latin sound despite being Italian, to the role of “rhythm” in a game with so many characters on the screen at once. It’s a nice look back at the game and its music, so please enjoy!

Hit the jump for our interview with Kenta Nagata.

OSV: Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedules to talk to us about the music that was created for New Super Mario Bros. Wii. Perhaps we could start by having you tell us a little about yourself and what your role was on the project?

Nintendo: For this project, Kenta Nagata, Shiho Fujii and Ryo Nagamatsu took roles on composition. Their previous work histories are as follows:

Nagata: The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, Wii Music
Fujii: Animal Crossing: City Folk, Wii Fit
Nagamatsu: Wii Sports Resort, Mario Kart Wii

Each of the three worked on nearly the same amount of composition. Specifically, Nagata and Fujii mainly composed for stages and Nagamatsu composed for title, menu and demo plays, and as Sound Director, Nagata coordinated their work.

OSV: What was your overall approach to the title, and how did having Kondo-san on hand as an advisor help you with this project? What went into the decision to assign Fujii-san and Nagamatsu-san to this project as opposed to the original New Super Mario Bros. composers from the DS game?

Nagata: New Super Mario Bros. Wii follows the same basic concept of New Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo DS. Our goal was to unite the gameplay and music, and make both as enjoyable as possible. Mr. Kondo supervised all of our work. He gave us countless tips of how we could make the music “as Mario as possible.” Even though it was challenging for the three of us, as we had had never worked on a Mario project before, Mr. Kondo gave us so much helpful advice just from telling us about his experiences working on the series for more than 20 years.

For the participation of Mr. Nagamatsu and Mr. Fujii, they were chosen because they were well-suited to the requirements of the project.

OSV: This game more than any other Mario title really has a sense of chaos about it with up to four players constantly bumping into and jumping on one another. How did that fast-paced action element factor into the team’s approach to the soundtrack, including the concept of “rhythm” that Kondo-san emphasized is his GDC keynote a couple years ago?

Nagata: I don’t think the new multiplayer element affected our approach of composition, as we define “the concept of rhythm” as a kind of groove that is present throughout all gameplay.

On the other hand, since multiplayer gaming requires so many sound effects to activate simultaneously, we tried to minimize the chaos in the overall soundscape.

OSV: There’s also a huge nostalgia factor with this game with the return of the Koopa Kids. There are numerous remixes in the game from Super Mario Bros. 3. Did the team early on decide that they were trying to revive memories of that game with the audio as well?

Nagata: We did not intend for the overall sensation of the player to be that of nostalgia, but it will be a great pleasure to us if those who have enjoyed older Mario games get that kind of feeling from the music.

OSV: Did the team have the opportunity to play the game during the course of creating the soundtrack? What were everyone’s thoughts regarding the game itself and how the audio ended up working in the game? Do you have a favorite character to play?

Nagata: Exactly, the gameplay is the core of “the concept of rhythm” and we acknowledge that playing the game is essential for composition of the music. By playing the title often, we were able to grasp the necessary rhythm and speed of the game.

Music in videogames cannot be too loud or too quiet. We need to coordinate the balance sensitively. As for this project, the gameplay difficulty affected the composition process a lot. Enemy characters and some objects in the game hop and dance along some specific phrases of the music, which may change the difficulty of the stage. Actually, we added some changes to the phrases in order to maintain this proper balance of difficulty.

As for our favorite character to play, we have an amount of fondness for Luigi, as we were involved in recording some of the “Super Guide” playthroughs for the game.

OSV: How many minutes of music were written for New Super Mario Bros. Wii, and what tools were used to write the music? Was all of the music sequenced, or were there some live performances included that I didn’t catch?

Nagata: There are nearly sixty minutes in total. No live performances are featured in the game.

OSV: Before the game was released, there was only one song that was used in promoting the game, and it was featured in the E3 debut trailer. It was a fun samba tune that is very catchy. Who wrote that song, and does the team feel that this track in particular represents the essence of what New Super Mario Bros. Wii is all about? Why wasn’t it included in the game itself?

Nagata: The tune in the E3 debut trailer is the same as the one in New Super Mario Bros. for Nintendo DS, which was originally composed by Mr. Kondo. It is also available as a main theme in New Super Mario Bros. Wii, with a slight new arrangement added. Even though both games are platformers, we consider the new arrangement to be most suitable for a new gaming experience on Wii, following our core “concept of rhythm.”

OSV: We were hoping you could tell us what your favorite song is from New Super Mario Bros. Wii and why. Do you have a favorite song from the entire Mario franchise that was particularly inspirational to you in trying to recreate the classic Mario feel?

Nagata: Aside from individual songs, the Koopas dancing along to the music is our favorite musical element of the game, even though the dance sometimes messes up and makes us hate it.

Even today, music from the original Super Mario Bros. inspires us a lot.

OSV: Is there any chance we’ll see a soundtrack release for New Super Mario Bros. Wii?

Nagata: We have no such plan right now.

OSV: Mario titles have never been very story driven, but with games like New Super Mario Bros. Wii that features multiple characters, was anyone tempted to write individual theme songs for the various characters from the Mario universe? If you had to write themes for each of the characters, what genre of music in your opinion would best fit characters like Luigi, Peach, Toad, and Bowser?

Nagata: If the characters had differences in play style, we would have thought of individual songs for each of them. I don’t think we would have to start composition by choosing a genre, since the gameplay would matter a lot, but it might help.

OSV: I’ve always been curious as to why, if Mario is Italian, do Mario game feature so much samba and jazz? Is Mario actually from South America, and we’ve all been mislead this entire time? Why do you think these genres of music work so well in the Mario universe despite the fact that they’re not overly popular in mainstream music?

Nagata: It’s the same story of how we develop our “concept of rhythm.” We eventually figured out the most suitable genre for the game by chance in our pursuit of most suitable musical rhythm.

We will never find any specific genre unsuitable just because Mario is Italian.

OSV: With New Super Mario Bros. Wii shipped, do you have a message for people who are playing the game all around the world? Can you comment on what you’ll be working on next at this point?

Nagata: I would like to convey our sincere thanks to players enjoying New Super Mario Bros. Wii around the world! If you have not experienced the multiplayer yet, we strongly recommend trying it with your friends or family members. We are sure you will experience a totally new kind of fun, as it feels almost like a different title. We at the development team played quite a bit of multiplayer. We could not help laughing out and shouting, and were often too loud for other teams as they scolded us, saying things like “Shut up!!” or “Can’t you play more quietly please!?”

OSV: Thanks again for taking the time to speak with us. Congratulations to the entire team for finishing this amazing game and soundtrack.

Nagata: Thank you again. Our team feels very thankful for the opportunity, as we don’t often have the chance to address the public. We would be very happy if more people got interested in videogame music.

[Translation provided by Nintendo and Shota Nakama]

OSV:お忙しい中「New スーパーマリオ ブラザーズ Wii」音楽のインタビュー時間を頂き、ありがとうございます。 先ず自己紹介とそれぞれが担当した事を教えて下さい。


永田権太:ゼルダの伝説「夢幻の砂時計」、Wii Music
藤井志帆:街へいこうよどうぶつの森、Wii Fit、
永松亮:Wii Sports Resort、マリオカートWii


OSV:同タイトルの音楽に対する全体的なアプローチ、そしてプロジェクトのアドバイザーとして近藤さんがいるのはどうでしたか? 「New スーパーマリオ ブラザーズ」からの作曲家陣ではなく、藤井さんと永松さんを割り当てたのはどういった理由があったんでしょうか?


OSV:このゲームは最高4人のプレイヤーが絶えずお互いにぶつかったり飛んだりしていて、他のマリオ作品よりもカオス的になっています。 こういった速いペースのアクション要素が、近藤さん数年前のGDC基調講演で強調していた「リズム」コンセプトを踏まえて、どうチームの音楽に対するアプローチに影響を与えましたか?



OSV:また同作品では、非常に懐かしいクッパの子供達が帰ってきました。 スーパーマリオブラザーズ3からのリミックスが数多く含まれています。 チームでは早い段階で音でも昔のマリオを甦らせようと決めていたんですか?


OSV:チームの方々は楽曲作成中にゲームを実際にプレイする機会はありましたか? みなさんのゲーム自体に対する意見はありますか、それに最終的にゲーム内で音楽がどう落ち着いたと思いますか? 誰か気に入っているキャラクターはいますか?




OSV:何分ぐらいの音楽を「New スーパーマリオブラザーズ Wii」用に書かれ、どういった機材が作曲に使われたのでしょうか? 音楽は全て打ち込みでしたか、それとも生演奏も含まれていたのでしょうか?



OSV:このゲーム発売前、プロモーションでは1曲のみ使用されていて、同曲はE3での予告編でもフィーチュアされていました。 楽しいサンバ調で凄くキャッチーでした。 あの曲は誰が書いたのでしょうか?



OSV:永田さんがマリオ Wii で気に入っている曲とその理由を聞かせて欲しいと思っていました。 あとマリオシリーズ全体から気に入っていて、昔ながらのマリオ感を再現しようとしている時に特にインスピレーションを与えてくれた曲はありますか?



OSV:マリオ Wii のサウンドトラックが発売される予定はあるんでしょうか?


OSV:ストーリー性を特に重視したマリオ作品はこれまであまりありませんでしたが、マリオWiiの様な複数のキャラクターをフィーチュアするゲームだと、マリオ界の様々なキャラに個々のテーマ曲を書きたいと思われませんでしたか? もし各キャラにテーマ曲を書かなければいけなかったら、ルイージ、ピーチ、キノピオ、クッパ等のキャラにはどういったジャンルの音楽が最も合うと思いますか?


OSV:ずっと疑問に思っていた事があるんですが、マリオがイタリア人なら何故マリオ作品はサンバやジャズを多く使用されるのでしょうか? 実はマリオは南米出身で、私達はみんな彼の出身地をさっぱり誤解してたのでしょうか? サンバやジャズという一般的にはあまりポピュラーではないジャンルが、どうしてマリオ界では特に上手くフィットすると思いますか?



OSV:「New スーパーマリオブラザーズ Wii」が発売された今、世界中でこのゲームをプレイしている人達に何かメッセージはありますか? 永田さんは次はどんな作品を手掛けるのか、現時点で何かコメントを頂けますか?


OSV:お話のお時間を頂きありがとうございました。 チームの皆さん、この素晴らしいゲームとその音楽の完成おめでとうございます。


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