Hidehiro Funauchi Mastered The Game Boy’s Sound Chip, Then Seemingly Disappeared

Picture: Nintendo Life / Damien McFerran

They are saying that you simply create a few of your greatest work if you’re put in a tough state of affairs, and for the numerous composers who needed to make the Sport Boy’s crude audio {hardware} sing, that does appear to have been the case. Regardless of its humble nature, the console is dwelling to some really memorable soundtracks – and one one who arguably mastered it higher than most was Konami’s Hidehiro Funauchi (additionally credited as ‘FK‑King’).

There’s little or no info on-line about Funauchi, and far of what you are about to learn right here is knowledgeable by a superb piece on the composer by Micro-Chop’s Gino Sorcinelli. Evidently he joined Konami within the late ’80s, incomes his first composter credit score got here in 1989 on the Household Laptop title TwinBee 3: Poko Poko Daimaō alongside Atsushi Fujio (‘Sukenomiya’) and Katsuhiko Suzuki (‘Flamingo’). This is able to grow to be his solely non-Sport Boy composer credit score, and for the following few years, he plied his commerce fastidiously on Nintendo’s monochrome handheld, turning out among the greatest soundtracks to ever grace the console.

In the identical yr he labored on TwinBee 3, he was a part of the three-person crew (with Shigeru Fukutake and Norio Hanzawa) that created the rating for Castlevania: The Journey. Whereas the sport itself is not a basic, the music is superb, particularly for such an early Sport Boy launch. Sticking with the Sport Boy, Funauchi gained his first solo composer credit score for Skate or Die: Dangerous ‘N Rad, adopted by Operation C (Contra in Japan, Probotector in Europe. He was as soon as once more listed as the only real composer for this recreation and contributed some superb tracks, whereas his rendition of the basic degree one ‘Jungle Theme’ is arguably one of the best.

Simply hear for your self should you do not consider us:

Funauchi then collaborated with Shigeru Fukutake and Akiko Itoh on the Sport Boy model of Parodius earlier than delivering what’s regarded by many to be his magnum opus: the rating for Castlevania II: Belmont’s Revenge.

This was the primary Castlevania recreation that your humble scribe ever performed, and is among the essential causes that the collection is my private favorite to this very day. Belmont’s Revenge solved nearly all the gameplay issues that Castlevania: The Journey had, however the accompanying soundtrack actually elevated the expertise to the following degree – a lot in order that I purchased a type of bolt-on Nuby sound amplifiers and used the sport’s hidden sound take a look at possibility (‘Coronary heart, Coronary heart, Coronary heart, Coronary heart’ on the password display) to harass my household every day. This was the primary time I might listened to online game music after I wasn’t truly enjoying the sport itself – and it was on {hardware} which was only some steps up from a doorbell on the evolutionary ladder. That claims loads about Funauchi’s potential to make the Sport Boy audio {hardware} really shine in a way that was seemingly past most of his contemporaries.

Funauchi’s subsequent venture was Blades of Metal, a collaboration with Akiko Ito. He then labored on the wonderful rating for Tiny Toon Adventures: Babs’ Massive Break in 1992 earlier than transferring on to the equally sensible music for Zen: Intergalactic Ninja, an motion platformer based mostly on the cult ’80s comedian e-book by Steve Stern and Dan Cote. Whereas these licenced titles might simply have been populated by primary, uninspired soundtracks, Funauchi’s expertise shone by; he was in a position to create swirling, atmospheric soundscapes that caught in your reminiscence lengthy after you’d powered down the console.

What’s puzzling is that after Zen: Intergalactic Ninja, Funauchi turned his again on recreation music and as an alternative moved into video work; MobyGames credit him as engaged on ‘movie digitisation’ on Hideo Kojima’s Policenauts in 1996, and he contributed to the opening sequences for Gradius: Deluxe Pack (1996) and Nagano Winter Olympics ’98 (1997) earlier than apparently vanishing from the video games trade altogether.

It is not typical for online game professionals to float away from the trade, particularly as expertise evolves and the required skillsets change – Hajime Hirasawa, who created the superb music for the unique Star Fox, would depart Nintendo (and video video games) shortly afterwards, for instance – however it’s nonetheless disappointing that Funauchi did not stick round to present us extra masterpieces.

Wherever he’s now, we hope that he is conscious of the unimaginable legacy he is left behind within the video games trade.

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