Hirokazu Tanaka

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Hirokazu Tanaka
Hirokazu Tanaka - 01.jpg
Local 田中 宏和 (たなか ひろかず)
Born 1957-12-13
Birth Place Unknown
Nationality Japanese   Japan.svg
Aliases H. Tanaka, Hip Tanaka, T.H, NAK,
Website hirokazutanaka.com

Hirokazu Tanaka is a Japanese composer and programmer. He is known for his several contributions to Nintendo.

Hirokazu was first enrolled at the Yamaha Music School in Japan at the age of five. From nine to eleven he primarily studied piano. Early in his life he became interested in rock music and he began to study guitar, drums, and keyboard.

Tanaka went to college majoring in electrical engineering to better his understanding of the electronics used in creating music. During college Tanaka was in a band that made it all the way to the finals of a music competition. However, in 1980, Tanaka quit the band in order to start work for Nintendo.

Tanaka started with sound effects on Nintendo's early arcade games, but by 1984 when Nintendo began work on the Famicom, Tanaka became the primary music composer for the R&D1 division of Nintendo.

Aside from his music composition, Tanaka also wrote code for a few games, helped design the audio hardware of the Game Boy, and designed the Game Boy camera and printer.

In 1998 Tanaka left Nintendo because they refused to allow him to continue work on the Pokémon project. He then went to work for Creatures, Inc. the company that produced the Pokémon trading cards. Since 2000 he now works as president for the company.

Tanaka has several popular soundtracks under his belt. These include Metroid, Dr. Mario, Tetris, Super Mario Land, EarthBound, Kid Icarus, Wrecking Crew, and Gyromite, among many others.

Audio Development

Tanaka said he was greatly influenced by reggae music. This can be supported by the many dotted eighth notes followed by sixteenth notes in his music.

Also, Tanaka did something unusual; when using a square wave to echo the other square wave, he would have the first square wave echo and the second square wave be the lead, whereas most other composers did it the other way around.

Tanaka has reused some songs in his video game music career, such as using the VS high scores theme in Barker Bill's Trick Shooting, the Nintendo World Championships 1991 song in Hello Kitty World, and Balloon Fight in Balloon Kid.


Hirokazu programmed the sound engine used in Nintendo's arcade games in 6502 assembly.

Game Boy

Tanaka programmed his own sound driver in Z80 assembly language and wrote the music in hexadecimal notation, similar to his NES music. Because of the popularity of Super Mario Land and Tetris, his sound driver is probably the most popular driver heard in Game Boy music.


Tanaka originally used Yukio Kaneoka's sound driver, but later reprogrammed it for his own use. According to Tanaka, the music and sound were written in 6502 assembly. His driver used custom instruments with various velocity settings, as heard in Tetris.


Hirokazu used Nintendo's in-house Kankichi-kun sequencer.


Most of these games have been verified to have been composed by Hirokazu Tanaka via Square Enix's website: http://www.squareenixmusic.com/composers/tanaka/projects.shtml

Released Title Sample Notes
1980-??-?? Space Firebird (ARC) (スペースファイヤーバード) Sound effects only.
1980-??-?? Helifire (ARC) Sound effects only.
1980-??-?? Radar Scope (ARC) Sound effects only.
1981-??-?? Donkey Kong (ARC) Sound effects only.
1982-??-?? Donkey Kong Jr. (ARC)
1982-11-12 Mickey and Donald (GW)
1983-03-07 Donkey Kong II (GW)
1983-28-09 Donkey Kong 3 (ARC) (ドンキーコング3)
1983-??-?? Donkey Kong Jr. (GW)
1983-??-?? Mario Bros. (ARC) Sound effects only.
1983-07-15 Donkey Kong Classics (NES) Arranged by Yukio Kaneoka.
1983-09-09 Mario Bros. (NES) (マリオ ブラザーズ) Sound effects only.
1983-??-?? Mario's Bombs Away (GW)
1983-??-?? Mario's Cement Factory (GW)
1983-??-?? Pinball (GW)
1983-??-?? Popeye (GW)
1983-??-?? Snoopy (GW)
1984-??-?? Balloon Fight (VS)
1984-??-?? Duck Hunt (VS)
1984-??-?? Spitball Sparky (GW)
1984-02-18 Wild Gunman (NES) (ワイルドガンマン)
1984-04-21 Duck Hunt (NES) (ダックハント)
1984-06-12 Hogan's Alley (NES) (ホーガンズアレイ)
1984-07-04 Donkey Kong 3 (NES) (ドンキーコング3)
1984-11-14 Urban Champion (NES) (アーバンチャンピオン)
1985-01-22 Balloon Fight (NES) (バルーンファイト)
1985-06-18 Wrecking Crew (NES) (レッキングクルー)
1985-07-26 Stack-Up (NES) (ロボットブロックセット)
1985-08-01 M82 (NES)
1985-08-13 Gyromite (NES) (ジャイロマイトジャイロセット)
1986-06-06 Gumshoe (NES) (ガムシュー)
1986-08-06 Metroid (NES) (メトロイド)
1986-12-19 Kid Icarus: Angel Land Story (NES) (光神話 パルテナの鏡)
1988-08-12 Famicom Wars (FC) (ファミコンウォーズ) With Kenji Yamamoto.
1989-02-03 Wrecking Crew (FDS)
1989-04-21 GameBoy BIOS (GB)
1989-04-21 Alleyway (GB)
1989-04-21 Baseball (GB)
1989-04-21 Super Mario Land (GB) (スーパーマリオランド)
1989-04-21 Yakuman (GB) (役満)
1989-06-14 Tetris (GB) (テトリス)
1989-07-27 Mother (FC)
1989-11-?? Tetris (NES)
1989-11-28 Golf (GB) (ゴルフ) Sound Effects and Sound Programming
1990-04-20 Fire Emblem: Ankoku Ryuu to Hikari no Ken (FC) (ファイアーエムブレム 暗黒竜と光の剣)
1990-06-05 Knight Move (FDS) (ナイトムーブ)
1990-07-27 Dr. Mario (NES) (ドクターマリオ)
1990-07-27 Dr. Mario (GB) (ドクターマリオ)
1990-08-?? Barker Bill's Trick Shooting (NES)
1990-09-07 Backgammon (FDS) (バックギャモン)
Arranger/Sound Driver
1990-10-?? Balloon Kid (GB)
1990-??-?? Nintendo World Championships 1990 (NES)
1991-09-20 NES Open Tournament Golf (NES) (マリオオープンゴルフ) Sound Driver
1991-??-?? Nintendo Campus Challenge 1991 (NES)
1992-03-14 Fire Emblem Gaiden (FC) (ファイアーエムブレム外伝) Sound Driver
1992-03-27 Hello Kitty World (FC) (ハローキティワールド)
1992-05-29 X (GB) (エックス)
1992-07-14 Mario Paint (SNES) (マリオペイント) With Kazumi Totaka and Ryoji Yoshitomi.
1993-01-14 Sanrio Carnival 2 (FC) (サンリオカーニバル2)
1993-03-19 Sanrio Carnival 2 (GB) (サンリオカーニバル2)
1994-08-27 EarthBound (SNES) (MOTHER2 ギーグの逆襲) With Keiichi Suzuki.
1994-12-?? Tetris & Dr. Mario (SNES) With Kazumi Totaka and Yumiko Kanki.
1995-05-19 Snoopy Concert (SNES) (スヌーピーコンサート) With Minako Hamano.
1998-01-01 Wrecking Crew '98 (SNES) (レッキングクルー'98) Sound Director
1998-02-12 Pocket Camera (GB) (ポケットカメラ) Director / Composer
1998-06-01 Pocket Printer (GB) (ポケットプリンター) Director
1998-10-21 Tetris DX (GBC) (テトリスデラックス) Composer?/Sound Driver?
2000-07-31 Balloon Fight GB (GBC) (バルーンファイトGB)
2001-02-23 Chee-Chai Alien (GBC) (ちっちゃいエイリアン) Director / Composer
2008-01-31 Super Smash Bros. Brawl (WII)
2014-09-13 Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (WIIU)
2018-06-07 Oyasumi Roonie (IOS) Music Composer
2018-12-08 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (NSW) Music Composer

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