Yoko Shimomura (下村陽子, Shimomura Yōko, born October 19, 1967) is a Japanese composer and musician best known for her soundtracks for various video games.
Yoko Shimomura was born in Hyōgo Prefecture, Japan. Her parents enrolled her in piano lessons when she was five years old. She took quickly to the instrument, and she often pretended to be composing her own music by playing the piano randomly.
After high school, she enrolled as a piano major in Osaka Music University. Upon graduation, Shimomura intended to become a piano instructor. She had been a video gamer for many years, though, so on a lark, she sent some samples of her work to various video game companies. Capcom invited her in for an audition and interview, and she was offered a job there. Her family and instructors were dismayed with her change in focus (video-game music was still not mainstream in Japan at the time), but Shimomura accepted the job at Capcom. She was a member of Capcom’s in-house jazz band Alph Lyla, and composed the soundtrack of Street Fighter II.
In 1993, Shimomura transferred to another game company, Squaresoft. Her first project at the company was the score for the role-playing game (RPG) Live A Live in 1994. After this, she was paired with more experienced composers for a time. For example, she teamed with Noriko Matsueda on the strategy/RPG Front Mission in 1995. In 1996, she composed and arranged (from Koji Kondo’s Mario series music, as well as three tracks from Final Fantasy IV by Nobuo Uematsu), the music to Square’s very last Nintendo-produced game until 2003, Super Mario RPG.
In 1998, she went solo once again for the soundtrack to the RPG Parasite Eve. One of her most major works was achieved in 1999 with Legend of Mana, a follow up to the beloved Seiken Densetsu series. The score to Legend of Mana showed a high range of breadth and depth to her music, and though the game met with polarized sentiments, the music can be regarded as classic.
In 2002, Yoko Shimomura left Square to work as a freelancer. One of her first projects as an independent was to compose the soundtrack to Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (an unofficial sequel to Super Mario RPG and Paper Mario) for Game Boy Advance.
Shimomura’s most notable recent score is for Kingdom Hearts II (2005), the sequel to the first joint Square/Disney venture that features Disney characters in an action/RPG environment. She also composed the score to the game’s predecessors, Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories and Kingdom Hearts. Shimomura was initially apprehensive about the Kingdom Hearts project, skeptical that she could successfully pull it off. However, her work on the game (which became a best-seller) went on to win critical acclaim and is often cited as her finest accomplishment to date.
Video game soundtracks (incomplete):
• Nemo (1990)
• King of Dragons (1991)
• Street Fighter 2 (1992) (with Alph Lyra)
• Street Fighter 2: Championship Edition (1994) (with Alph Lyra)
• Live A Live (1994)
• Front Mission (1995) (with Noriko Matsueda)
• Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (1996) (including arrangements of music by Nobuo Uematsu and Koji Kondo)
• Tobal No. 1 (1996) (with Masashi Hamauzu, Junya Nakano, Yasuhiro Kawami, Kenji Ito, Noriko Matsueda, Ryuji Sasai, and Yasunori Mitsuda)
• Parasite Eve (1998)
• Legend of Mana (1999)
• Kingdom Hearts (2002)
• Front Mission 1st (2003) (with Noriko Matsueda)
• Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga (2003)
• Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories (2004)
• Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time (2005)
• Kingdom Hearts II (2005-2006)
• Monster Kingdom: Jewel Summoner (2006) (with Shinji Hosoe, Hitoshi Sakimoto, Yasunori Mitsuda, Kenji Ito, Masaharu Iwata, Tsukasa Masuko, Yasuyuki Suzuki, Ayako Saso, and Takahiro Ogata)
• Final Fantasy Versus XIII (TBD)
• Heroes of Mana (2007)
• Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008) (with other video game composers)
• Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days (2008)
• Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep (TBD)
• Kingdom Hearts: Coded (TBD)
• Parasite Eve Remixes (1998)
• Dark Chronicle Premium Arrange (Dark Cloud 2) (2004) (with Motoi Sakuraba, The Black Mages, Noriyuki Iwadare, Yasunori Mitsuda, Shinji Hosoe, and Kenji Ito)
• Rogue Galaxy Premium Arrange (2006) (with Motoi Sakuraba, Noriyuki Iwadare, Kenji Ito, Yasunori Mitsuda, Shinji Hosoe, Takayuki Aihara, Norihiko Hibino, Nobuyoshi Sano, and Yoshitaka Hirota)
• murmur (2007) (original album with lyrics and vocals by Chata)
• Drammatica - The Very Best Of Yoko Shimomura (2008) (Compilation album of orchestrated works