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Masaharu Iwata

Masaharu Iwata (Property of CocoeBiz) Date of Birth: October 26, 1966 (Tokyo)
Education: High School
Musical Influences: Arabesque, YMO, China Crisis, Bill Nelson
Instruments Played: Piano
Place of Residence: Tokyo
Official Web Site: Masaharu Iwata's Official English Site at CocoeBiz


This biography was written by Chris exclusively for use at Square Enix Music Online. It may not be placed on any web site or otherwise distributed publicly without advance written permission, as this is a violation of copyright.

Masaharu Iwata, born on October 26, 1966 in Tokyo, has never been formally educated in music, but has been passionate about it since he was very young nonetheless. He was a big fan of the Yellow Magic Orchestra in high school and was also influenced by Arabesque, China Crisis, Bill Nelson, and a number of other artists. Thanks to these external influences, he started to compose music at high school with friends and participated in some cover bands. While the results were initially poor, he eventually developed his own distinct musical style thanks to the new opportunities provided by the growth of music technology and the use of the synthesizer.

The combination of his love for video games and his passion for music resulted in him applying for a part-time job at the game company Bothtec and being employed by them in in 1987. Here, he composed the ending theme for a game said to be entitled Bakusou Buggy Ipatsu Yarou and then went on to compose for Quest for a year after they took over Bothtec. He met Hitoshi Sakimoto here, and despite initially feeling intimidated by him, they soon became strong friends and colleagues. This was extremely significant since the majority of Iwata's future works were to be composed alongside Hitoshi Sakimoto. After he left Quest, he became a freelance composer and composed and designed sound effects for a large number of games on the Nintendo and certain other consoles between 1988 and 1993. Despite few Original Soundtracks being released for these games, they all helped to establish his huge list of game projects.

After becoming a freelance composer, Iwata continued to collaborate with Quest by composing the scores for the popular Ogre series with Hitoshi Sakimoto and Hayato Matsuo. The trio were first responsible for All Sounds of Ogre Battle, which was first released in 1993. The album was mostly militaristic in nature and proved to be a grand success that left many fans desiring for more. Iwata and Sakimoto returned to the series in 1995 to produce the three disc score for the Super Nintendo game Tactics Ogre, a game that was eventually re-released on the PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Once Tactics Ogre was released, the music of Ogre Battle and Tactics Ogre became the subject of Masatsugu Shinozaki's popular orchestral arranged album Ogre ~Grand Repeat~, released in 1996. Iwata's and Sakimoto's next score for the series was for Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber. This saw them reunited with Matsuo once again and is considered to be the best score of the series by many people.

While Masaharu Iwata is often thought of as a Square resident composer, this is not accurate, as he has only collaborated with them twice (while still a freelance composer). The first time was in 1995 to compose the score for Treasure Hunter G, Square's last RPG on the Super Nintendo, alongside John Pee, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Toshiaki Sakoda, Yoko Takada, Akiko Goto, and Tomoko Matsui (aka the Sting Symphony). Since Sting collaborated with Square for the production of this game, it also established the foundations of his involvement in that company in later years. Despite composing a large proportion of the tracks, however, the Treasure Hunter G Original Sound Version didn't receive a large amount of publicity and continues to be an extremely rare find today. He returned to compose the score for Final Fantasy Tactics in 1997 with Hitoshi Sakimoto. Easily his most well known work to date, this really boosted his popularity in the video game music world and made him considerably more experienced as composer.

As well as his works for Square and the Ogre series, Iwata has achieved fame creating numerous other works, and he has composed a number of scores for the game producer Sting since the production of Treasure Hunter G . The most important of these was the score for Baroque, which was released on the Sega Saturn in 1998 and the PlayStation in 1999. The Baroque Original Soundtrack is a controversial array of experimentalism and ambience that combines abstract noise music with energetic dark electronica. Although it mainly consisted of Iwata's compositions, John Pee and Toshiaki Sakoda from Treasure Hunter G made some small contributions at the end of the work as well. Iwata also composed and produced the scores for the Dreamcast RPG's Evolution and Evolution 2, which were released in 1999. As well as his works for Sting, he is well-known for creating several scores for Arcade games for Eighting, with Bloody Roar and Bloody Roar 2 being the most memorable examples.

In the last four years, Masaharu Iwata is still proving to be extremely productive and popular in the video game music world. In 2001, he produced the score for Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis with Hitoshi Sakimoto for the Game Boy Advance. Also in that year, he was responsible for the sound manipulation of Yoshitaka Hirota's and Yasunori Mitsuda's score for Shadow Hearts. This was something different from his typical composing role and it gave him a chance to familiarise himself with the PlayStation 2's hardware. Following this, he composed for a number of other games, including Namco's Arcade game Golgo 13 in 2002 and the PlayStation 2 game Fullmetal Alchemist: Dream Carnival in 2004.

His most popular recent work saw him reunited with Hitoshi Sakimoto for the first time in three years for the production of the score for Stella Deus in 2004. The Stella Deus Original Soundtrack featured 41 tracks and showed the two composers sharing equal roles. It was well-received in the video game music world, despite its initial lack of publicity, and an arranged album for it has since been released. He has also worked with fellow Basiscape employee Manabu Namiki on several shooters over the last few years, being partly responsible for the Mushihimesama Original Soundtrack, the Dodonpachi Dai-Ou-Jou/Ketsui ~KizunaJigokuTachi~ Original Soundtrack, and Dodonpachi Dai-Ou-Jou & ESPGaluda -Perfect Remix-. Rumoured to be working with Sakimoto on Square Enix's next MMORPG, Fantasy Earth: The Ring of Dominion, expect lots more from him in the future!

List of Game Projects

Note: This list only includes games that the composer has actively worked on, so those games that feature reprises of the composer's work from older titles are not included.

Key: C = Composer, A = Arranger, P = Performer, S = Sound Programmer, E = Sound Effects, M = Synthesizer Operator

Year Game Role
Famicom Disc System
1987 Relics: Ankoku Yousai C
NEC PC8801
1988 Revolver C
1990 Starship Rendezvous C
1990 Witches of Barbatus C
1991 King Breeder C
1991 Metal Orange C
NEC PC9801
1990 Starship Rendezvous C
1991 King Breeder C
1991 Metal Orange C
Nintendo Entertainment System
1989 Fantasy Zone E+S
1990 Dungeon Kid C
1990 Might & Magic C
1990 Conquest of the Crystal Palace C+E
1990 Musashi No Bouken C
1990 Rush Up C
1991 Western Kids C+E
1991 Over Horizon C+E
1991 Shikinjou C+E
1991 Robocco Wars C+E
1993 Ushio To Tora - Shinen No Taiyou C+E
1993 Gorillaman C
Nintendo Game Boy
1990 Battle Ping Pong C
Sega Mega Drive
1991 Verytex C
1992 Gauntlet C
1992 King Salmon C
NEC PC Engine
1991 Magical Chase C
Super Nintendo Entertainment System
1993 Ogre Battle C
1995 Tactics Ogre C
1996 Treasure Hunter G C
Sega Saturn
1996 Shippuu Mahou Daisakuen C
1998 Baroque C
Sony PlayStation
1997 Final Fantasy Tactics C
1999 Baroque C
1997 Bloody Roar C
1998 Bloody Roar 2 C
1998 Armed Police Batrider C
2002 Golgo 13 E
Sega Dreamcast
1999 Evolution C
1999 Evolution 2 C
Nintendo 64
1999 Ogre Battle 64: Person of Lordly Caliber C
Nintendo Game Boy Advance
2001 Tactics Ogre: The Knight of Lodis C
Sony PlayStation 2
2001 Shadow Hearts C+S+E
2003 DoDonPachi Dai-Oujou A
2003 Fierce Fight Professional Baseball C
2004 Kuusen II C+A
2004 Fullmetal Alchemist: Dream Carnival C+E
2004 Stella Deus C
Nintendo Game Cube
2005 ZOIDZS Metal Crush C

List of Albums

Original Scores

Arranged Albums

Other Albums

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