The Secret of the Secret Nintendo SongS

When you talk about music in Nintendo games, the first person that pops into most people's minds is the work of legendary composer Koji Kondo, the man behind the iconic scores for games like Zelda and Mario.

We're not talking about Koji Kondo today.

Instead, we're going to talk about Kazumi Totaka, who in addition to being a talent in his own right is responsible for one of the sweetest hidden treats in all of gaming.

Totaka has worked on the soundtracks to over a dozen of Nintendo's games, the most notable being Animal Crossing, Link's Awakening, Wii Sports, Yoshi's Story, Mario Paint and Pikmin 2.

Yet it's a ditty he put together for X, a Game Boy game released in 1992 (and developed by Star Fox's Argonaut), that began perhaps his most famous contribution to gaming.

In the clip below, at around 1:30, the game's normally stark, blippy soundtrack switches over to a catchy little number, 19 notes of music that sound like they fell out of an adventure game, or an antique music box.

On his next game, Mario Paint, Totaka used the tune again, this time as the intro music. And would go on to use it again, and again, and again, hiding it in nearly every game he composed music for, sometimes out in the open, other times tucking it away where it was almost impossible to find. It would become known as "Totaka's Song".

You can find it in the closing credits of Wario Land for the Vitual Boy. You can find it during a control screen briefing for Luigi's Mansion for the GameCube. You can find it twice in Link's Awakening on the Game Boy. You can even find it in X-Scape, the sequel to X, the first game he ever provided music for.

My favourite use of the song, though, comes in the Animal Crossing series. If you ask laid-back guitar-playing dog K. K. Slider to play you the "K.K. Song", he'll not only break out into Totaka's Song, but will give you a copy you can play in your little Animal Crossing house when you get home as well.

The Secret of the Secret Nintendo Song
Kazumi Totaka was born in 1967

It's even likely that the character of K.K. Slider himself, one of the most popular from the series, is based on Totaka, as in Japanese he's called Totakeke (とたけけ), a name that not only sounds like the composer's name, but is one Totaka's used before (to hear a version of Totaka's Song in the Japanese edition of Link's Awakening, for example, you need to enter your name as "とたけけ").

Not every game he's worked on features the song, though. Nobody has been able to find the ditty in Wave Race 64, Wii Sports, Wii Music, Healthy Recipe Assistant 1000: DS Menu Anthology, Super Smash Bros. Brawl or the Wii's menu channel music.

That's not to say the song isn't in them! It's just that nobody has found it yet.

If you'd like to hear all the different versions and instances of the song, you can listen to them all over on nindb.

FUN FACT: Totaka isn't just a composer. He's also done some voice work: if you ever wondered where the voice of Yoshi came from (or the Pikmin!), Totaka is your man.
Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.

You can contact Luke Plunkett, the author of this post, at plunkett@kotaku.com. You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, and lurking around our #tips page.