Yasunori Mitsuda is a Japanese video game composer who got his start doing sound programming work on games developed by Square (now Square Enix) such as Secret of Mana and Final Fantasy V, among others.
Originally, despite having been hired as a composer, he didn't do much composing (aside from sound effects), mostly working as a sound engineer. Naturally, he wasn't content with not being able to do what he applied for in the first place, so he threatened to quit unless he could do some actual composing. The result? Chrono Trigger's Crowning Music of Awesome. Well, the majority of it, anyway -- Mitsuda overdid his work and due to stress he ended up with stomach ulcers that prevented him from finishing it. In his place, veteran Square composer Nobuo Uematsu (who at the time mainly composed for Final Fantasy games) filled in.
Eventually Mitsuda recovered and went on to compose for several other Square games such as Chrono Cross and Xenogears, as well as broadening his work to other companies' games such as Hudson Soft's Bomberman 64: The Second Attack and Mario Party, Sacnoth's Shadow Hearts series, and Imageepoch's Luminous Arc and Sands of Destruction.
Currently, Mitsuda has a music production company called Procyon Studio that works on various media, including his original medium, video games.
Mitsuda is good friends with writer Masato Kato, whom he met while working on Chrono Trigger and who he has since collaborated with on Radical Dreamers, Xenogears, Chrono Cross, Deep Labyrinth, Sands of Destruction, and an original album called Kirite.
Yasunori Mitsuda's composition style is very distinctive, invoking potent, deep moods with lots of flavorful zest. It becomes instantly recognizable to those who have heard enough of it. It also tends to be a treat to listen to again and again.
An article in Nintendo Power once mentioned that Mitsuda waits until a game is close to being complete before composing music for it. Given what happened with Mitsuda's own music with Singing Mountain in Chrono Trigger and the same game's second battle theme, not to mention the sheer amount of Cut Songs in video games with soundtracks by other composers, that may be why.
Video Game Music
- Arc Rise Fantasia (2009, along with Yuki Harada and Shunsuke Tsuchiya)
- Bomberman 64: The Second Attack (1999, along with Yoshitaka Hirota)
- BQLSI Star Laser (2009) - The game was developed by Mitsuda's Procyon Studio for the iPhone, and Mitsuda himself was the game's producer. Sadly, the only "music" in the game are the beginning and end-of-level jingles.
- Chrono Cross (1999): Contained arrangements of songs from both Chrono Trigger and Radical Dreamers as well.
- Samples: "Ancient Dragon's Fort", "The Brink of Death", "Chronomantique", "Dream of a Shore Bordering Another World", "Forest of Cutting Shadows", "Lizard Dance", "Magical Dreamers ~Wind, Stars and Waves~", "Scars of Time", "Termina, Another", "Time of the Dreamwatch", "Zelbess", "Life ~Faraway Promise~".
- Chrono Trigger (1995—along with Nobuo Uematsu and Noriko Matsueda): His first official music composition work, and still his favorite.
- Deep Labyrinth (2004): A prime example of how well-done Mitsuda music can actually make an otherwise lackluster game very enjoyable, giving the game a sense of profound depth and feeling it lacked without it.
- Front Mission: Gun Hazard (1996—along with Masashi Hamauzu, Junya Nakano and Nobuo Uematsu)
- Graffiti Kingdom (2004)
- Inazuma Eleven (2008)
- Inazuma Eleven 2: Kyoui No Shinryokusha (2009)
- Inazuma Eleven 3: Challenge The World (2010)
- Kid Icarus: Uprising (2012)
- Legaia II: Duel Saga (2001, along with Hitoshi Sakimoto and Michiru Oshima)
- Lime Odyssey (2009)
- Luminous Arc (2007, along with Shota Kageyama, Akari Kaida and Kazumi Mitome)
- Mario Party (1998): Also his least favorite work. In interview, Mitsuda said that developer Hudson Soft rejected more than half the compositions he submitted. Still, he did work for Mario Party 2 as well.
- Samples: Rainbow Castle.
- Mario Party 2 (1999, along with Syohei Bando, Kazuhiko Sawaguchi and Hironao Yamamoto): No Mario Party work after this.
- Mega Man Legends 2 (2000, arrangement)
- Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner (2006, along with Shinji Hosoe, Kenji Ito, Masaharu Iwata, Tsukasa Masuko, Takahiro Ogata, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Ayako Saso, Yoko Shimomura and Yasuyuki Suzuki)
- Radical Dreamers (1996): A very brief game with a small soundtrack, but most of the songs were really good. Many of them were also rearranged later for Chrono Cross.
- Sands of Destruction (2008, along with Kazumi Mitome and Shunsuke Tsuchiya)
- Shadow Hearts (2001, along with Yoshitaka Hirota)
- Shadow Hearts: Covenant (2003, along with Yoshitaka Hirota, Kenji Ito and Tomoko Kobayashi)
- Soma Bringer (2008)
- Soukou Kihei Armodyne (2007)
- Super Smash Bros Brawl (2008, arrangement)
- Tantei Kibukawa Ryosuke Jiken Dan: The Masquerade Lullaby (2005, along with Takanari Ishiyama and Kazumi Mitome)
- Tobal No. 1 (1996—musical director, and composer along with Masashi Hamauzu, Kenji Ito, Yasuhiro Kawami, Noriko Matsueda, Junya Nakano, Ryuji Sasai and Yoko Shimomura)
- Tsugunai: Atonement (2001): Also familiar to Crimson Echoes fans, as the project reused a few songs from an cinniùint, Mitsuda's soundtrack for Tsugunai.
- Tsukiyo Ni Saraba (2005, along with Miki Higashino)
- Xenoblade (2010, along with ACE, Manami Kiyota and Yoko Shimomura): The first time Mitsuda worked on an individual Xeno game where he did not compose the entire soundtrack. In fact, he only composed one song—the ending. The other three composers composed most of the soundtrack, but adopting heavy Mitsuda influences -- Xeno just isn't Xeno without it.
- Xenogears (1998): Chrono Trigger was mostly light-hearted, but Xenogears was very much not. This was the soundtrack that really showed how deep and moody Mitsuda's music could get.
- Samples: "Flight, Bonds of Sea and Flame", "June Mermaid", "Omen", "One Who Is Torn Apart", "Remnants of the Dreams of the Strong", "Shattering Egg of Dreams", "The Soft Wind Sings", "Stars of Tears" (vocals by Joanne Hogg), "Steel Giants", "Thames, Men of the Sea", "The Treasure Which Cannot Be Stolen", "Shevat of the Blue Skies, The Wind Is Calling".
- Xenosaga Episode I: Der Wille Zur Macht (2002): He did not return for the rest of the series though.
Yasunori Mitsuda has also composed a few original and arrangement albums, independent of video game releases.
- Creid is an album of Celtic-themed arrangements of music from Xenogears. Its Engrish track names could not distract from the quality of the music.
- Ki Rite is an album Yasunori Mitsuda made in cooperation with story writer Masato Kato (who had worked with Mitsuda on Chrono Trigger, Xenogears, Chrono Cross and Deep Labyrinth). Kato wrote a story, and Mitsuda composed 15 songs to give it feeling. An artist provided Scenery Porn with the album's printed material. All this made kiRite more like a concept game story, without ever being a game.
- Myth is another album of remixed Xenogears tunes, this time with orchestral arrangements. It is available for purchase from iTunes.