山本健誌 (video game composer)
Kenji Yamamoto (山本 健誌, Yamamoto Kenji) is a Japanese video game musician and programmer working for Nintendo. He was born on April 25, 1964. He is notable for composing music in many titles of the Metroid series, mainly Super Metroid and the Prime trilogy. Yamamoto also plays a role as a music director at Nintendo, overseeing the audio for several Nintendo games. He frequently collaborates with fellow composers Masaru Tajima and Minako Hamano.
In development of Super Metroid, Yamamoto came up with some of the game's themes by humming them to himself while riding his motorcycle to work. He was asked to compose the music for Metroid Prime to reinforce the series' continuity. Metroid Prime's Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound was mixed by a member of Dolby Digital. Developers from Retro Studios noted how the process of fitting all the sound effects and music for Metroid Prime in 6 MB of space was crucial in producing a quality soundtrack, as each sound had to be of very high quality to be included. Yamamoto utilizes heavy drums, piano, voiced chants, clangs of pipes, and electric guitar. Metroid Prime 3 took advantage of the increase in the amount of RAM that took place when the series switched from the GameCube to the Wii; this allowed for higher quality audio samples to be used and thus a better overall audio quality. Yamamoto, who composed the music to Super Metroid and the Prime trilogy, copied the musical design of the original Metroid in Metroid Prime 3, by keeping the music and themes dark and scary until the very end, when uplifting music is played during the credits.
The music from Metroid and other games has been played by ensembles including Jenova and Minibosses. An orchestral arrangement of his music is included in PLAY! A Video Game Symphony that toured the United States and Europe and made its Asian debut at the 2007 Singapore Arts Festival.
In an interview with Music4Games, Yamamoto detailed his experience working on the Metroid Prime trilogy. He described his thoughts on the inclusion of themes from Super Metroid as well as his composition process and sources of inspiration. He intends to continue working on the Metroid series into the future.