|Square||Game Developer||1998 - 2003||Synthesizer Operator|
|Square Enix||Game Developer||2003 -||Synthesizer Operator|
|muZik||Music Group||2005 -||Arranger, Synthesizers|
Hirosato Noda is a long-term synthesizer operator and occasional composer at Square Enix. Though little is known about his life, Noda’s minor roles as a composer and arranger indicate that he enjoyed technopop music while growing up during the 1970s. He gained proficiency with technology during his teenage years and started to specialise in music programming. In 1998, he and four others were employed as synthesizer operators at Square; in this role, he offered new methods of implementing composers’ works using the opportunities provided by the PlayStation. After helping to implement Legend of Mana’s score, he subsequently took the lead role on 1999’s Front Mission 3. On this large and demanding project, he received many requests from the game’s contrast but equally formidable composers, Hayato Matsuo and Koji Hayama. His adaptability was put to the test since Matsuo aimed for technical rigour with his symphonic creations, whereas Hayama’s electronic and rock compositions were produced on an ab-lib basis at late stage.
On subsequent works, Noda balanced his main duties as a synthesizer operator with side projects as an electronic remixer. He was asked to implement the Hitoshi Sakimoto’s electronically-oriented composition "Great Cathedral" for Vagrant Story. Noda also offered an abstract electronic remix of a dungeon theme for the bonus tracks of the soundtrack release. After this success, Noda was asked to arrange Final Fantasy X’s "Prelude" in his characteristic style, featured during the opening scenes of the game. The quirky synthpop mix was regarded as a progressive experiment by some and an unorthodox abomination by others. In 2002, Noda implemented approximately a third of Final Fantasy XI’s main soundtrack. Though his implementation was less colourful than Hidenori Iwasaki’s, he still enhanced the organic fantasy flavour of the score. He also crafted the peppy techno arrangement of "Mithra" and the choral parts of "Shadow Lord" to moderate reception. Noda returned to implement some of Final Fantasy XI: Rise of the Zilart’s themes the following year.
In 2003, Hirosato Noda united with Nobuo Uematsu to create a chiptune score for Hanjuku Hero VS 3D. With his manipulation of samples, Noda provided the opportunity for Uematsu to revisit the old-school sounds of earlier composing days; he implemented Uematsu’s simple compositions and humorous parodies using synthesized sounds similar to the Nintendo Entertainment System. Noda used a broader range of samples of Hanjuku Hero 4 ~The 7 Heroes~ two years later. In addition to overseeing the inclusion of reprises from the previous title, he integrated a mixture of original compositions and Final Fantasy arrangements from the score’s numerous other contributors. In his first compositions for Square Enix, Noda also offered "Cyber Sound Orchestra" and "Get the Research Data!" to this project. He adopted his light electronic style once more and, in the latter, even homaged the 1970s tune "Popcorn". Noda also became a founding member of the Final Fantasy techno-pop arrangement group muZik that first appeared at the The Black Mages’ second concert.
Now an established member of Square Enix, Noda subsequently worked on the two year remake project Romancing Saga Minstrel Song alongside Kenji Ito and Tsuyoshi Sekito. Noda found the project exhausting to work on due to both the volume of material and the huge stylistic variety. However, the score was generally well-received and Noda enhanced its timbral range. He returned to implement Kenji Ito’s opening, ending, and setting themes for 2006’s Dawn of Mana (aka Seiken Densetsu 4). He also contributed his own techno mixes of the "Dwarves’ Theme" for the score’s arranged disc. Noda later programmed 2007’s Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix + alongside Keiji Kawamori. Despite the unique challenges of loading stage and battle music simultaneously in the Kingdom Hearts series, he ensured that the new versions of Kingdom Hearts: Chains of Memories’ tracks and new compositions in Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix were more technologically accomplished than previous Kingdom Hearts scores. He also produced light-hearted remixes of two new machine themes created for the mobile phone’s Kingdom Hearts: coded.
Noda went on to implement several scores for portable scores. He was able to be technically exuberant on Takeharu Ishimoto’s score to The World Ends With You, thanks to the low memory consumption of the game’s 2D graphics. He streamed samples from twelve vocalists in conjunction with driving beats and dense instrumentals. He returned to implement tracks exclusive to the overseas version and was responsible for 1980s pop remixes of "Calling" and "Make or Break" on its arranged album. The opposite situation applied to the remake Final Fantasy IV. Given the memory consumption of the title’s 3D graphics, Nakano was forced to reduce the sound data’s memory expenditure and downgraded most of the pieces arranged for the soundtrack, leading to a poor reception. He returned to program the score for the WiiWare sequel Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, blending arranged versions produced for the DS score with new compositions made by Junya Nakano. Noda subsequently helped to ensure that the PSP’s Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep and DS’ Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days retained the quality of their main console counterparts despite the transition to portable consoles.
Noda embraced a new challenge on the mobile phone title Final Fantasy Dimensions. He was responsible for arranging and mixing Naoshi Mizuta’s original compositions into chiptune tracks reminiscent of the series’ classic titles. Going on to implement Takeharu Ishimoto’s Final Fantasy Type 0, he optimised a wide range of rock and orchestral pices for the PSP, before helping to implement a mixture of new lavish compositions and arrangements on Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance. Noda also returned as the synthesizer operator for the iOS version of The World Ends With You. Also making occasional contributions to Square Enix’s albums, he portrayed a science-fiction scene with the electronic track "OMNI" on Music for Art, revisited Legend of Mana with a special remix for Square Enix’s Christmas album, and offered a hybridised piece for the album inspired by Sengoku IXA. Noda’s traditional role at Square Enix has become eroded, as more current home and portable games using streaming technology. However, he continues to adapt his technical expertise and musical personality for a range of productions.
© Biography by Chris Greening (September 2007). Last updated on December 30, 2012. Do not republish without formal permission.