Blog:Mikame and Me
Back in December and January, I had the chance to talk to Shunichi Mikame, a man who previously worked for a Japanese game company and is now living in America. Given his unique life story, I just had to contact him and learn more.
A 1986 graduate of what is now known as the Shobi College of Music, Mikame was hired by Culture Brain that same year to work as a computer music composer. His music turned up in several Famicom/NES titles you might remember: Super Chinese/Kung Fu Heroes, Hiryuu no Ken: Ougi no Sho/Flying Dragon: The Secret Scroll, and Arabian Dream Scheherazade/The Magic of Scheherazade. Using his own music equipment (sequencers and synthesizers and such), he recorded his compositions to audio tape and submitted them for approval. Some made the cut - others did not. After approval, he converted the music to assembly language and passed it along to Culture Brain's programmers. In total, he composed about 150 pieces of music during his time there.
Mikame shared with me some memories of the game producer (the owner of Culture Brain). He was a difficult man and was sometimes violent with one or two sales guys who were his childhood friends or old classmates. (This became such a challenge that some of the game/graphic designers left for Sega.) But at the same time, he was also passionate about making games and had lots of excellent ideas. He would give them (Mikame and the game/graphic designers) money to go down to the arcade and play games and study them. All the Famicom games they wanted to play were bought and provided by the company for the same reason (to study them).
When Mikame was hired into Culture Brain, it was actually still called Nihon Game. Founded in 1980, Nihon Game had been responsible for several arcade games such as Monster Zero, SF-X/Skelagon, and Hokuha Shourin Hiryuu no Ken/Shanghai Kid. The company name was changed to Culture Brain in 1987 and a US branch was eventually opened. The US branch closed in the 1990s, but Culture Brain continues on in its home country making DS games.
Back to Mikame, he got into an argument with the aforementioned game producer/owner one cold winter day and was fired (as Mikame had hoped). (This was in 1987, just after the release of Hiryuu no Ken but before the release of Arabian Dream Scheherazade.) He dabbled in different things afterwards like making sound effects and music for commercials and traveling. He learned English with American friends he had at the US Navy base in Yokosuka and decided to pursue his dream of coming to the States. He left Japan in 1991 and studied computer science at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He eventually ended up in Texas, where he is now working as a network security engineer/consultant.
Mikame has a website. On his profile, you can find out more about him and listen to some of his game and non-game musical compositions.
My thanks to Mr. Mikame for his time.
I am Christina Aguilera said ...
<comment date="2013-01-17T07:17:24Z" name="I am Christina Aguilera"> The music from Magic of Scheherazade is awesome! I've got kind of a soft spot for Kung Fu Heroes too, though there's not that much to the game. Maybe he would know why stuff like the Mario 1-up sound effect pop up in Kung Fu Heroes? </comment>
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