Back then, there was no MIDI or other protocol

Back then, there was no MIDI or other protocol that could directly convert your keyboard playing to data," says Kondo. "Everything was composed directly on the computer, entering notes manually. I did practise on my Electone at home and sketch out ideas, which I’d then take to the office and enter into the computer. I would do the arrangement on the computer there, adjusting things as I went.
In Mario, the first visuals that were completed had Mario running through an open grassy field. At first I added some very light, airy music to that—but it didn’t fit at all [laughs] - everyone disliked it, and the tune wasn’t very interesting either.

So I went back to the drawing board, and tried to write something with more emphatic rhythm, using that little hi-hat beat as the basis. Then, I added a chord riff using the open voicing technique I mentioned. Working with that chord progression, I created a bunch of melodic variations, and selected the best one for the final version.
Right now, there’s just over 20 people working in the sound department at Nintendo. But regardless of how the hardware changes, what remains most important is that we are making music for video games, and remembering that the music should fit the game. I’m talking about musical ideas which enhance the interactivity of the game, ideas which could only be thought of in a video game. For example, making the tempo go faster in the last 100 seconds of Super Mario Bros. Or in Super Mario 64, when you go deep underground, the bass subtly changes, or the fact that the music is different when you’re underwater vs. above-ground. We try to add ideas like that, as much as we can. Rather than technical hardware instruction, that’s the kind of guidance I give to new staff.

Another example would be in Ocarina of Time. The field music is divided into short 8 bar blocks, but those blocks are played randomly to keep things fresh. Also, when Link stands still and rests, the music flows more peacefully, and when an enemy appears, the melody shifts to a more heroic theme. I made those with the idea of smooth transitions in mind… whether anyone noticed, I can’t say (laughs). But I didn’t want to interrupt the rhythm or flow of the music with a brand new song every time.