Power Up Excerpt

This is an excerpt from the book Power-Up : How Japanese Video Games Gave the World an Extra Life, by Chris Kohler. It can be purchased via Amazon.com. Credit to Stoney for posting the excerpt. Quotes are by Mitsuda, and unquoted paragraphs are written by the author, Chris Kohler.

"...I didn't like being stuck as a sound programmer. And one day I finally snapped, and I went to [Hironobu] Sakaguchi, and I told him that if he didn't let me compose songs, I'd quit. And so he said, okay, you're going to do Chrono Trigger."

And just like that, Mitsuda was given composing duties for what would become one of the most memorable RPG experiences of all time. Chrono Trigger was a collaboration of epic proportions. Dragon Quest's scenario writer Yuji Horii and character designer Akira Toriyama would partner with the Final Fantasy designers to create an original RPG. With some of the best graphics on the Super Famicom and a time-travel story far more offbeat and crazy than anything Final Fantasy could, by design, ever be, Chrono Trigger needed a unique and appealing soundtrack to match.

"I wanted to create music that wouldn't fit into any established genre...music of an imaginary world. The game's director, Masato Kato, was my close friend, and so I'd always talk with him about the setting and the scene before going into writing." Mitsuda's perfectionist nature was beginning to show, and this would actually land him in the hospital before he could finish the music. "Originally, I was working on it all by myself. And I worked so hard that I got stomach ulcers, and I was sent to the hospital. And after that, Uematsu-san came in to help out."

After Chrono Trigger, Mitsuda partnered with Nobuo Uematsu to score Front Mission: Gun Hazard, then Radical Dreamers, a graphical text adventure released on Nintendo's ill-fated Satellaview add-on for the Super Famicom that let Japanese satellite customers download small games via satellite reception. Although Radical Dreamers was technically the follow-up to Chrono Trigger, the two games shared very little in common save for Mitsuda's exceptional music.

"With Chrono Cross I tried to reduce the instrumentation, to strip it down to a bare minimum, like how some songs are just the guitar. When you look at the end product, it might seem like all I did was put the music to the game. But the way I figure it, I not only make music that works in the game--I make music that I would want to listen to by itself."

Mitsuda demurs at the suggestion of a Chrono Cross arranged album, saying he is "pretty satisfied with the soundtrack as it is." So what are his dreams? "I want to reunite all the members of Millenial Fair--the group from Creid (an arranged version of the Xenogears soundtrack)--and have a live concert of that music. I also think I'd like to try writing the soundtrack to a musical play. Right now I'm on vacation. But I'm thinking about making a solo album, something close to Creid. I want to get a lot of musicians together and make something new.

"I just entered my thirties, and they say that musicians hit their prime in their thirties," he says. "So, the good stuff should be from now on."

From: Interviews