At what age
did you become interested in music?
I was ten years old, I met up with the music of Emerson, Lake
& Palmer. I had never heard such marvelous music before.
It was quite an impact for me. A few months later I heard that
Keith Emerson was using a particular instrument called MOOG
At what age did you start writing music?
When I was twelve years old, the Folk blues movement came over
to Japan from America. I studied Acoustic Guitar and started
to create an original song immediately. I wanted to be a singer/
songwriter... if I wasn't a terrible singer. Actually, Digital
equipment opened up my potential as a music composer. Without
a musical sequencer, I can't create any complicated tunes. When
I first acquired a YAMAHA SY-77 synthesizer/sequencer, I felt
as if I got a ticket to a different world.
Why did you start Sacnoth?
I had held many original ideas about video games and visual
expression for a long time. The most important purpose is to
create an entertainment. When I was searching for a way to achieve
my dream, I met a dominant business advisor. He introduced me
to the chairman of SNK. I told him about many pitfalls that
every existing RPG had. I thought those were lacking a comprehensive
insight and a integrative interpretation. It is a structural
defect of game production. To resolve the problem, it is necessary
to get the picture of each element of game creation at the same
time. I have an ability to do that. I established a company
SACNOTH and took up my position as CEO in order to produce a
new horror RPG project, Koudelka. But unfortunately... Though
I conceived a grand scheme to realize an innovative game system
and visual expression, many old staffs from SQUARE were not
able to accept real change without hesitation. I say that the
person who will have no change is already dead. After termination
of Koudelka project, I retired as CEO of SACNOTH. It was my
As a composer how should music effect the game? As a developer
how should the music effect the game?
A music composer wants to create a good tune with utter simplicity.
But if you want to create a good game as a developer, it is
not enough. Because good music does not necessarily fit a good
game. The most important problem is adjustment of each of the
elements. If the visual element exactly synchronizes with the
musical element, a dramatic effect will be generated.. And I
take it for granted that everybody wants to hear a good melody
in the end.
What were your influences for Koudelka?
In the first instance, I designed all concepts and fundamental
settings of the Koudelka's world. I gathered various graphic
and text materials in London and Wales. I did character design,
map design, event design, scenario writing, direction of computer
graphics movie, direction of motion capture... I got involved
with all of the integral parts of Koudelka except battle and
game system. Especially, I had no influence in battle section.
I still have a great regret. I wish I could have designed it.
And a quick digression, I consulted many movies and books for
Koudelka. A most impressive movie is The Name of the Rose (Jean
Jacques Annaud 1986). I also read the original book which was
written by Umberto Eco. It is a definitely masterpiece. If you
want to know some origins of Koudelka's world, you may read
Carnacki the Ghost Finder written by William Hope Hodgson and
The Case of Charles Dexter Ward written by Howard Phillips Lovecraft.
Many fantasy novels by Lord Dunsany (His his full name and title
is Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett 18th Lord Dunsany) are
also important. If you want to know about visual origin of Koudelka,
see photographs created by Bob Carlos Clarke and Jan Saudek
and Holly Warburton. Those are extremely exciting works.
How did you manage to write, direct and compose the music for
Writing a scenario. Directing a CG movie. Composing a BGM. Each
of those is no more than a single face of game creation. When
I imagined the world of Koudelka, I figure graphic elements
and story elements and sound elements all at once. Because,
those are mingled with each other organically. So I think that
It is rather easy to manage multiple affairs.
What was the easiest aspect of working on Koudelka? What was
The easiest aspect is music composing. Because I can create
a music by my lonesome. It makes me free and I feel comfort.
Hardest aspect is behind-the-scenes maneuvering of power game
in company organization. I am so tired to do that. Let's get
something straight, I am not a buccaneer but rather a creator.
All aspects about creation are really pleasant for me.
Why do you make music? Why do you make games?
Music composing is a natural behavior for me. Like breathing.
I usually conceive a good melody and a harmony without suffering.
So I have no reason to make music. I think that it is my vocation.
Meanwhile, creating video game is not my vocation. It is my
wish. I want to produce high quality entertainment in the future.
When I write a story and a plot, I usually suffer by myself.
Though it is very hard and thorny, I feel maximum accomplishment.
What inspires your melodies?
Many great works of famous composers and musicians inspire me.
If I must respect only one person or group as a music composer(s),
I will take Pink Floyd.
What are your hobbies and why?
Good question. Riding bicycles is my hobby. I also love my yellow
Peugeot MTB made in France. I also have some fun playing with
my cat. She is extremely pretty.
When did you begin working at Square?
I began work at Square in 1991. I was twenty seven years old.
In those days, the production studio of Square was placed in
Akasaka Tokyo. It was small and homey, different from now. I
remember that Nobuo Uematsu and Kenji Ito interviewed me in
their office. We talked about progressive rock music and famous
guitar player Allan Holdsworth with each other. I created sound
effects for Romancing Saga at the start of my career. A few
of graphic staff worked with me to design a lot of novelty sounds.
We worked hard in night and day.
How much freedom did you have making music at Square?
In a sense, I had perfect freedom. Because, the planning staff
of Square put none of the assignments relevant to the menu of
music work and schedule in my hand. Nobody explained to me about
game detail which they were producing. I had to think and imagine
what kind of music was needed for our game project. Changeover,changeover,
and more changeover of specifications. It was difficult to foresee
the final image of it. But I did.
What is favorite game that you worked on at Square and why?
May be Seiken Densetsu 2 (Secret of Mana). I think that it was
a pretty good game except for the big BUG. The multi player
system was extremely fresh and delightful. In the aspect of
music, I was fully challenged in regard to sound expression
using 8 voice PCM system of SNES hardware. Please see and hear
the opening sequence of Seiken Densetsu 2. It is so simple but
so lyrical, isn't it? I am really proud of my visual direction
and music composition.
Did Nobuo Uematsu influence your work?
think there is no influence from Nobuo Uematsu. I have never
taken any lessons about composing game music. The style and
the melody of my music are totally conceived by myself. Just
the same, every staff composer at Square were free from influence
of somebody else. Originality and personality were cheerished
in our studio. It was the policy of Nobuo Uematsu.
What are the best and worst memories that you have of Square?
Hmmm... Best memory... it seems a trip
to MANA island of Fiji republic. After a production of the game
Secret of Mana, I and my friend decided to visit an island placed
in South Pacific Ocean. We played skin diving everyday and watched
some corals. Those were extremely beautiful. It looks like a
blue heaven. I will never forget the view of the sunset from
Mana's beaches. It is one of my treasures. By the way... Worst
memory is a dissolution of the game team in which I was supposed
to participate. I wanted to propose an innovative game system
using music and sound effects.
Who is your favorite Square composer and why?
I recommend Jin Sakimoto (Hitoshi Sakimoto). His works are extremely
One of our favorite soundtracks of yours is Soukaigi. The sound
quality and styles are some the best for a game.
Soukaigi has many characters of sound. I designed it with different
complex styles. House music meets real performance, fusion meets
folk choirÖÖ It was an adventure for me. To tell you the truth,
the style of music does not a matter. I don't dwell upon it.
Though I put a high value on counterpoint it does not bind me.
It is only a method. In the case of Soukaigi, I was mainly influenced
by East European pops like Varttina.
Why did you leave Square?
I wanted to direct not only musical expression but also visual
expression. And of course, I wanted to write a fine scenario
which is different from existing one. I had felt a big complaint
against those juvenile works. But unfortunately, I couldn't
get a chance to take a part in those kind of production works
in Square. I suffered terribly for a long time. After all is
said, I left Square and established new company Sacnoth to achieve
Do you perform your music live?
If I have a chance to do that, I wish to play my music as a
live performance. I didn't make an attempt to do that in Japan
yet. Do you want to hear my music in front of your eyes, ya?
Who would you like to make music with?
Jin (Hitoshi) Sakimoto. Because, I could not collaborate with
him on composing game music when we were hired together by Square.
I respect him. Except for game music composer, I want to collaborate
with Allan Holdsworth, a fusion guitar player. His music is
How do you think game music compares to other genres of music?
I think that is similar to movie soundtracks. It is important
to synchronize the music with visual element. It has an expressive
purpose. If you want to create a game music, don't forget to
construct it as an emotional device.
How will the next generation consoles allow you to express yourself
as composer and game designer?
I feel a strong attraction to X-box and Game Cube. A big visual
capability makes me hot. I have many ideas to display fascinating
characters using real time computer graphics. They will sing
and dance and talk with real emotion. Don't you want to play
the Musical RPG on Network? I want to play it.
What would your advice be to people who:
People who want to create game music.
Listen to as much music as you can. Don't confine yourself to
your room. The genre of music is meaningless. If you want to
find your treasure, you must challenge the common practice at
any one time.
People who want to create games.
Video games are not art. They are an entertainment. You must
amuse your audience first instead of amusing yourself. I am
always conscious of the feeling to accommodate someone with
a fun service. Can you create a lot of gimmicks for the player?
If you work so hard and push yourself enough, the day will come
to collaborate in some way with me for sure. Let's think of
a next game together.
What is in the future for Hiroki Kikuta?
I will be involved in some new game projects that are not directed
by me. I will be a technical advisor. I will create computer
graphics and sounds. But soon, I hope to form my studio and
develop my own game project. So now I am looking for new investors
around the globe.
would like to thank Mr. Kikuta for chatting with us.