|Namco||Game Developer||1997 - 2006||Composer|
|Namco Bandai Games||Game Developer||2006 - 2012||Composer|
|GE-ON-DAN||Artist Collective||2010 - 2011||Member|
|Namco Bandai Studios||Game Developer||2012 -||Composer|
Masaru Shiina, better known as Go Shiina, is a versatile video game composer at Namco Bandai Games. Born on May 16, 1974 in Kanagawa, Shiina was taught the electone organ from a young age and soon developed a passion for music – writing both pop songs and Metallica covers with a band in high school. He nevertheless such activities with various sports and didn’t seriously consider pursuing a musical career. Shiina struggled to find a job after finishing school and unsuccessfully applied to nearly 50 positions in the food, banking, jewelry, and clothing industries. Feeling devastated, the artist learned that only game companies were still recruiting after this unsuccessful period, even though he had never found video games interesting. He nevertheless desperately applied to the sound team of Namco, realising it was his last chance. Shiina was surprised to pass the interview and learned that he had been taken on for his personality, not his skills. After being recruited, he quickly polished up his knowledge about video games and their music. He was extremely grateful for the employment and intended to make the best use of the opportunity.
Shiina gained experience in composition and sound design for games during his initial years at Namco. He first gained experience on arcade projects such as Hammer Champ, World Stadium ‘98EX, and Quick & Crash. The experience of using Namco’s old trackers felt more like computer programming than composing for Shiina, but still taught him valuable skills.In 1999, Shiina made his breakthrough with Mr. Driller, originally intended to be a sequel to the Dig Dug series. Showing off his personality, he offered an off-the-wall pop-influenced soundtrack that intentionally contrasted with the visuals for the game. Many of them almost didn’t make it into the final product, since they were deemed unfit for a puzzle game. Yet the final soundtrack turned out to be a big hit. With the various sequels and console adaptations to the game, Shiina was able to offer more exuberant scores, having felt more creatively assured and technologically liberated. Among his innovations were to offer light-hearted vocal themes, such as Mr. Driller G’s “Susume! Driller” and Mr. Driller: Drill Land’s “My World, Our World”, that were sometimes even integrated with the main gameplay. Between such projects, he made guest contributions to Ace Combat 3, MotoGP3, and Klonoa 2, including some experiments with electronic music design.
In 2005, Shiina’s music became known to a much wider audience when his soundtrack for the internally developed RPG Tales of Legendia was released. Given the unique scenario of the game, Shiina decided to express his individuality on the project, rather than imitate past Tales scores. He developed a colourful orchestral sound on the project and recorded the scores with the New Japan Philharmonic Orchestra and various session musicians. The artist nevertheless reflected his versatility once more with deviations in ethnic, jazz, rock, electronic, and J-Pop music, willing to write in any genre when motivated. He selected two discs of the most accomplished music from the score for the soundtrack release, restoring many of the pieces that were altered in the game. Following this success, he had guest roles in several subsequent scores in the series, handling the opening and ending themes for Tales of Fandom Vol. 2, two battle theme arrangements for Tales of VS., and a diverse selection for Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 2. He also led the music production for the game adaptation of the anime Kyo! Kara Maoh!, matching the girly scenario with exuberant pop-flavoured music.
In recent years, Shiina has had recurring roles on several other major series. He was a guest stage composer for Tekken 5: Dark Resurrection, Tekken 6,and Tekken 6: Bloodline Rebellion; while he didn’t intended for his music to stand out, his compositions still proved enjoyable with their fusion approaches and cutting-edge implementation. In addition, the artist has been an occasional composer to the Taiko: The Drum Master rhythm game series, ever since writing the opening theme for the first console adaptation. He has also contributed several vocal themes for The iDOLM@STER, all of which have been unique and emotional; most notably, he witnessed his song “Tonari ni” being performed by Chiaki Takahashi at the concert A Night in Fantasia 2009 in Sydney. In a related role, he offered an experimental orchestral arrangement to represent StarCraft’s Zerg species on behalf of Eminence’s Echoes of War: The Music of Blizzard Entertainment. Other notable roles include the opening themes for 2006 and 2007 versions of Namco’s annual baseball titles and some music for Charge! Battle Stadium.
In 2010, he received the opportunity to create his first solo score in a long time, the PSP’s God Eater. He once engaged in some demanding recording sessions with vocalists and instrumentalists to capture the dramatic story and rich environments of the game. The final results were considered breathtaking by many who experienced the game and its album release. Later that year, he was also the main composer in the international collaboration Ace Combat: Joint Assault, where he offered a mixture of nostalgic arrangements and epic orchestral music. Shiina to score Ace Combat 3D: Assault Horizon Legacy, building on these approaches with new and reprised tracks. On all three works, the artist pushed portable consoles to their limits with rich streamed music. In other recent projects, Shiina created the exotic final dungeon theme for Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology 3 and five new tracks for the expanded title God Eater Burst. He has also flirted with external projects, composing the animated horror film Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack in collaboration with orchestrator Wataru Hokoyama. Shiina is currently working on God Eater 2, where he promises to build on the already lavish music of the original. The project is once again expected to gain much attention from Shiina’s large international fanbase.
- Various Game & Album Credits
- Interview with CocoeBiz Part 1 (English, March 2009)
- Interview with CocoeBiz Part 2 (Japanese, July 2009)
- Interview with CocoeBiz Part 3 (Subtitled Video, September 2009)
- Interview with Game-OST (English, November 2009)
© Biography by Chris Greening (September 2010). Last updated on January 19, 2013. Do not republish without formal permission.