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Kazumi Totaka

Kazumi Totaka Date of Birth: August 23, 1967 (Tokyo)
Instruments: Piano, Guitar
Joined Nintendo: 1992
Company Role: Composer, Sound Supervisor, Yoshi Voice Actor
Game Works: Animal Crossing, Yoshi's Story, Luigi's Mansion


Note: This biography was written exclusively for Square Enix Music Online by Chris and is under copyright.

Born on August 23, 1967 in Tokyo, Kazumi Totaka has been a composer at Nintendo since 1992 and is also the voice actor for Yoshi. He made his debut with the Game Boy 3D action game X, helping Hirokazu Tanaka to create a dense action-packed score with dazzling arpeggios and powerful crisis motifs. On this project, he also introduced a 19 note melody dubbed 'Totaka's Song' that has since made appearances in most of Totaka's other scores and became subject to a cult following as a prime example of Nintendo's quirkiness. A little later in the year, Totaka's music was featured in Mario Paint, otherwise scored by Tanaka and Ryoji Yoshitomi; its score focused on a few simple barely harmonised melodies, among them Totaka's song, that have since been elaborated on by multiple fan arrangements. Continuing a prolific year, Totaka subsequently scored the action-adventure title Kaeru no Tameni Kane wa Naru. Here he produced some charming and heroic themes commemorated in the Nintendo Sound Selection series.

In 1992, Totaka composed the hit Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins. The score was more elaborate than the other Mario scores produced at that time, but also continued what Hirokazu Tanaka's previous score did best by offering simple, quirky, and unforgettable melodies. In subsequent years, Totaka joined three others on The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, creating a large and emotional score unfortunately never released on CD. After testing Wario Land: Super Mario Land 3, Totaka concluding his time at Nintendo Research & Development 1 with the score and sound effects to Virtual Boy Wario Land. In 1996, Totaka was transferred to Nintendo Entertainment & Development given the subdivision intended to increase its productivity at the start of the Nintendo 64 era. He initially scored the jetskiing title Wave Race 64 in a jazz fusion style; he used the increased technical capacity of its console to create more elaborate and expressive compositions.

In 1997, Totaka created a very cheerful score to Yoshi's Story. It was received well by some gamers, but often criticised for being childish and repetitious nevertheless. He adopted the role of a voice actor for the first time, providing different voices for each Yoshi while interpreting their unique language. He has since reprised this role to represent Yoshi in various instalments of the Mario Sports, Mario Party, Super Smash Bros., and Mario & Luigi series. Totaka was subsequently assigned to score three out of four of the scores to the Mario Artist line of games published for the Nintendo 64DD, reflecting just how far his musicianship had progressed since Mario Paint. Tanaka scored much of the GameCube launch title Luigi's Mansion. He offered a simple 'cello- and whistle-based main theme that simultaneously reflected the horror and comic aspects of the game and was integrated prominently throughout the score. The soundtrack was not released on CD, reflecting Nintendo's general policy for the GameCube era, though its main theme has been used as Luigi's leitmotif for several Nintendo scores since.

A landmark of Totaka's career was his score for Animal Crossing. It was originally released as the Japan-only Animal Forest on the Nintendo 64 but was later released as the enhanced GameCube port Animal Crossing worldwide. For this title, Totaka reflected his status of second-in-command at Nintendo EAD's sound team by directing Toru Minegishi, Kenta Nagata, and Shinobu Tanaka to respectively handled indoor, field, and event music. The 200+ piece score is one of Nintendo's most interactive to date, for instance changing according to the hour and season in the game. The score is best known for Totaka and Minegishi's catchy compositions performed by K.K. Slider every Saturday night. Incidentally, Totaka was the inspiration for K.K. Slider's caricature as well as the character's Japanese name, Totakeke, as emphasised at Mario & Zelda Big Band Live, where Totaka performed Yoshi music on guitar.

Totaka's successes on Animal Crossing resulted in him being assigned to 2004's Pikmin 2, where he composed with and directed Hajime Wakai. The whimsical ambient style of the original Pikmin score was maintained, but there were multiple well-developed pieces created for each area following criticism that there wasn't enough variety in its predecessor. Given his experience on Yoshi's Story, Totaka was also the musical director of the puzzle game Yoshi Touch & Go, but produced few compositions of his own. On both projects, he impressed the game producers by showing assertiveness, even few He subsequently composed the DS' Animal Crossing: Wild World with Asuka Ota in the spirit of its predecessor to positive reception. His other recent projects have been musical direction of the puzzle game Yoshi Touch & Go and the light jazzy score for Wii Sports and Wii Music Orchestra. Currently believed to be scoring Animal Crossing Wii, Totaka has left a legacy both with his mixture of interactive and catchy scores and his roles as Yoshi's voice actor, K.K. Slider's inspiration, and the creator of Totaka's song.

List of Game Projects

Year Game / Role Console
1992 X
Composition with Hirokazu Tanaka
Game Boy
1992 Mario Paint
Composition with Hirokazu Tanaka, Ryoji Yoshitomi
1992 Kaeru no Tameni Kane wa Naru
Game Boy
1992 Super Mario Land 2: 6 Golden Coins
Game Boy
1993 The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening
Composition with Yuichi Ozaki, Minako Hamano, Kazue Ishikawa
1995 Virtual Boy Wario Land
Virtual Boy
1996 Wave Race 64
Nintendo 64
1997 Yoshi's Story
Nintendo 64
1999 Mario Artist: Paint Studio
Nintendo 64DD
2000 Mario Artist: Polygon Studio
Nintendo 64DD
2000 Mario Artist: Talent Studio
Composition with Kenta Nagata, Toru Minegishi
Nintendo 64DD
2001 Luigi's Mansion
Composition with Shinobu Tanaka
2001 Animal Crossing / Animal Forest e+
Composition with Toru Minegishi, Kenta Nagata, Shinobu Tanaka
Nintendo 64
2004 Pikmin 2
Composition with Hajime Wakai
2005 Yoshi Touch & Go
Composition with Asuka Ota, Toru Minegishi
2005 Animal Crossing: Wild World
Composition with Asuka Ota
2006 Wii Sports
2006 Mii Channel
2006 Wii Shop Channel
2008 Wii Music
Composition with Koji Kondo

List of Covered Albums

Album Title Catalog No.
Animal Forest Sound CD Keke Choice! Mix (Nintendo Dream) Promotional
Animal Forest The Movie Original Soundtrack VPCG-84854
Animal Forest Totakeke Music EGCH-10016
Animal Forest Totakeke Music 2 EGCH-10017
Mario Sports CD The Best Promotional
Mario Tennis 64 Original Soundtrack FMCN-1001
Mario & Zelda Big Band Live SCDC-00315
Mario & Zelda Big Band Live DVD Promotional
N64Y2K Millenium Trax (Europe) 3591040
Nintendo 64 Games, Original Cuts From The Hottest (US) 1100-Winter96
Nintendo 64 Greatest Hits (US) 1101-Winter96
Nintendo Sound Adventures (Europe) Promotional
Nintendo Sound Selection Vol. 1: Peach Healing Music CN-P004
Nintendo Sound Selection Vol. 2: Koopa Loud Music CN-P018
Nintendo Sound Selection Vol. 3: Luigi B-Side Music CN-P020
Super Smash Bros. Original Soundtrack TECD-35446/7
Super Smash Bros. DX Orchestra (Japan) Promotional
Super Smash Bros. Melee ~ Smashing... Live! (UK) Promotional
Touch! Generations Soundtrack Promotional
Wave Race 64 Original Soundtrack PCCG-00425
Yoshi's Story Original Soundtrack (Japan) PCCG-00425
Yoshi's Story Game Soundtrack (US) Promotional
Yoshi's Story Soundtrack, Love, Peace & Happiness: The Original (Europe) Art.-Nr.: 94033