He’s perhaps best loved, though, for his contributions (along with fellow composers Keiichi Suzuki and Hiroshi Kanazu) to the soundtracks to cult favourite the Mother series, a franchise renowned for its catchy and, at times, surprisingly emotional score. Those with an ear for the classics will recognise the many tips of the hat that can be found in the Mother games, like tributes to The Who, Chuck Berry and even The Beatles (there’s a great Beatles v Mother comparison video here).

While he continued to do music work into the 1990's, Tanaka scaled back his composition duties during the decade, working on some other aspects of design that would, bizarrely, culminate in his leadership of the team that created the Game Boy camera peripheral in 1998.


In 2000, Tanaka “left” Nintendo to take up the role of president of Creatures Inc., one of the two companies involved (along with The Pokémon Company itself) in the creation of Pokémon properties for Nintendo. While Creatures assist on the development of Pokémon video games, its main role is to oversee the Pokémon card game.

While he’s still serving as president of Creatures to this day, Tanaka did find time in 2008 to return to game soundtracks, contributing two tracks (a Donkey Kong and Kirby mix) for Wii fighting game Super Smash Bros. Brawl.


When not up to his armpits in Pokémon all day, Tanaka still performs as often as he can, though these days he’s traded the guitar and keyboard for the chiptunes scene, where he often plays snappy remixes of his earlier Nintendo work.

(Top image courtesy of Inside)

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.