Hidenori Iwasaki Profile
|Also Known As:
岩崎 英則 (いわさき ひでのり) / VAG40
|Date of Birth:
April 6, 1971 (Ito)
Front Mission, The Crystal Bearers, BloodMasque
|HAM||Company||1995 – 1997||Synthesizer Operator|
|Square||Game Developer||1998 – 2003||Synthesizer Operator|
|Square Enix||Game Developer||2003 – 2004||Synthesizer Operator|
|Square Enix||Game Developer||2004 –||Composer, Synthesizer Operator|
|The Star Onions||Music Group||2004 – 2007||Guest Keyboards|
Hidenori Iwasaki is a composer and synthesizer operator at Square Enix best known for his works on the Front Mission series. Born on April 6, 1971 in Ito, Iwasaki learned to play the piano while growing up and grew to appreciate music from around the world. After graduating from high school in 1989, he studied economics at Tokyo International University. Despite this, he decided to pursue a musical career and was employed as a synthesizer operator at HAM from 1995 to 1997. The following year, Iwasaki joined Square with four others to work as a synthesizer operator for PlayStation video games. His debut Another Mind tested his practical efficiency, as the entire score needed to be created against a tight deadline. In this project and, to a greater extent, its successor Threads of Fate (aka DewPrism), Iwasaki exploited the opportunities of the PlayStation’s hardware to reflect the dynamic development and rich palettes of Nakano’s compositions. He was fortunate enough to receive impeccably realised MIDI data from the composer, allowing him to sample and insert 90% of the sounds as they were.
In 1999, Iwasaki worked on another stylistically rich score, Racing Lagoon. In addition to implementing Noriko Matsueda’s numerous urban jazz compositions, he mixed instrumental recordings of Takahito Eguchi’s hard-edged battle themes. He also explored the music of Square’s Final Fantasy series while implementing Kenji Ito’s arrangements for Chocobo Racing. By request, he ensured the pieces sounded much more lively and brash than their originals to complement the driving gameplay. In guest roles, he also implemented the opening movie of Vagrant Story and some pieces for Legend of Mana. Under the pseudonym ’VAG40’, he also penned two greatly contrasting electronic remixes for album releases, a relaxing new age track for Racing Lagoon Original Soundtrack and an oppressive drum ’n’ bass dub for the Parasite Eve Remixes. A year later, Iwasaki ensured the music for Square’s first internally developed PlayStation 2 game, The Bouncer, was realistic and compelling. Further exploring his versatility, he implemented compositions ranging from cinematic orchestral cues to electro-rock action themes.
Iwasaki proved a suitable synthesizer programmer for the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI given his fondness for world and organic music. He used the MOTU Performer Sequence and realistic sample libraries such as GigaStudio to bring the franchise into the 21st century. Also an arranger for the project, he produced the rich in-game arrangement of “Gustaberg” and a bonus rendition of the main for the soundtrack’s limited edition DVD. Iwasaki has also implemented some of the music for Final Fantasy XI’s extensions Rise of the Zilart and Treasures of Aht Urhgan, as well as the PlayOnline title Tetra Master. In a related role, he has served as a guest keyboardist of the band The Star Onions, performing Final Fantasy XI arrangements at 2004’s Chains of Promathia Special Night and 2007’s Tokyo Game Show. Later appointed to work on the GameCube’s Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles, Iwasaki worked closely alongside Tanioka as an arranger and manipulator throughout. He helped to organise live performances of the score by ancient music group Roba House and integrated them into the console. The final score was unprecedented both for its crystal clear sound quality and its authentic sound. Tanioka also allowed him compose a single ambient composition on the score, “Eternal Oath”.
In 2003, Iwasaki worked on the remake Front Mission 1st, Square’s final PlayStation title, in a range of roles. He arranged and resynthed the entire score of the Super Nintendo’s Front Mission, bringing a new emotional scope to the originals, and created five compositions of his own. Following this success, he was asked by director Toshiro Tsuchida to create an entire original score for 2004’s Front Mission 4, assisted by manipulator and occasional composer Ryo Yamazaki. Iwasaki developed a modern orchestral sound for the score’s military themes, inspired by Hans Zimmer and other film composers. Nevertheless, he drew influences from electronic, jazz, ethnic, and ambient music to complement the diverse scenes of the RPG. Following this big break, Iwasaki reunited with the development team to compose and implement most of the discontinued spinoff Front Mission Online. He blended original militaristic compositions with arrangements of pieces from five previous titles, mixing orchestral elements with guitar riffs and electronic beats.
For 2005’s Front Mission 5 ~Scars of the War~, Iwasaki produced an altogether more exuberant score than its predecessor. Continuing to be inspired by military movie scores, he created robust main themes to define the score and recorded symphonic compositions with full orchestra. The score proved to be a diverse and emotional stand-alone experience, in addition to a serviceable accompaniment to the game. Iwasaki’s music from the franchise was also reprised in the DS’ Front Mission 2089: Border of Madness and Front Mission remake. After such eminent successes, Iwasaki’s roles in the subsequent years were limited to small synthesizer operating assignments, occasional concert performances, and composing for a few casual games. He lent a few compositions for the flash game Fumikes, before gaining a taste of composing for mobile phones with Ellark. Iwasaki was lined up to score Front Mission Evolved, according to early development articles, but was replaced by Garry Schyman when the game’s development was outsourced to a Western team. Nevertheless, he demonstrated his continued passion for the series on the original album Music for Art, producing a funky composition inspired by his Lock & Load themes.
Iwasaki marked his full return to game scoring with Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers, released for the Wii after a four year development period in 2009. Producer Akitoshi Kawazu requested that he created a soundtrack completely different from the original game and, after considerable exploration, he decided to produce a range of music inspired by North American tradition. Alongside co-composer Yamazaki, he explored country, bluegrass, jazz, and rock music throughout the project while still retaining the warm acoustic essence of the series. He also brought more drama to the experience with recordings with full orchestra and returning group Roba House. While the game was a commercial failure, the score was praised for its creative stylings and lavish production. Following this project, he supplemented the soundtrack release of Lufia: Curse of the Sinistrals with some bonus arrangements; the game’s rocking battle themes and adventurous orchestrations were greatly enhanced with richer stylings and realistic samples.
In the last year, Iwasaki has been involved in a range of smaller productions. After a long break from synthesizer operation, he implemented the light-hearted score for the Wii’s Mario Sports Mix with Yamazaki. He also reunited with Yamazaki to score a duo of WiiWare storybooks, The Tales of Bearsworth Manor, complementing the visual style of the game with spooky orchestral compositions reminiscent of Danny Elfman’s film scores. Following this role, he made a hybridised contribution to the browser game Sengoku IXA and composed music for full orchestra for another larger-scale browser title, Monster x Dragon. The artist also recently enjoyed contributing to the iOS’ Demons’ Score, recording a heavy metal composition “God Accuser” with vocalist Shootie HG. It is clear that, between his major scoring projects, the ever efficient and resourceful composer is capable of handling various other assignments. Having impressed superiors with previous scores, Iwasaki has revealed he is currently writing music for a new project.
© Biography by Chris Greening (September 2007). Last updated on December 30, 2012. Do not republish without formal permission.
Posted on December 30, 2012 by Chris Greening. Last modified on March 21, 2014.