Working For Nintendo Used To Be Hell, But At Least We Got Cool Music Out Of It

Illustration for article titled Working For Nintendo Used To Be Hell, But At Least We Got Cool Music Out Of It
Total RecallTotal RecallTotal Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.

Super Metroid has one of the most famous themes in video games. If you’ve ever wondered where it came from, you’ve got the nightmarish working conditions of 1990s video game development (and some impromptu one-man karaoke) to thank for it.

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In an interview on Nintendo’s site, Composer Kenji Yamamoto remembers that during the development of Super Metroid, the team rarely left the office, even to sleep.

“It really was hard. Back then, we had a nap room with lots of futons lined up, and staff members took turns sleeping”, he says. “On Christmas night, we were—of course—working, and when Sakamoto [Metroid’s creator] and I had a late meal, we saw people having a good time on the TV news. We wondered why we couldn’t do that too!”

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“At the time, I had to make sound effects, and background music, and do programming, but the schedule was tight, so every day was a struggle. That meant the ride home each day was the only time when I could empty my head.”

Yamamoto says that on one such ride he was “cruising on my way home when all of a sudden I was like, ‘Eureka!’”. He immediately parked his bike, got off, “whipped out a recorder, and recorded what was in my head for about ten, twenty minutes, just belting it out!”

When Sakamoto interjects laughing with “That must’ve looked suspicious!”, Yamamoto replies “I did think people must think I’m weird.”

Not at all my man.


Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.

Luke Plunkett is a Senior Editor based in Canberra, Australia. He has written a book on cosplay, designed a game about airplanes, and also runs cosplay.kotaku.com.

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DISCUSSION

This feels like it should be a long article, then it just ends abruptly. I wanna know more about how those working conditions were in the 90s and how and why they changed.