Composer didn’t enter the video game business until he was in his 50s, still created over 500 pieces of music for landmark video game series.

A lot of people have worked on the Dragon Quest franchise. The first game in the series was released all the way back in 1986, and its immense popularity has led to 11 mainline installments and counting, plus numerous spinoffs, with publisher Square Enix willing to invest in large development teams for one of the crown jewels in its portfolio.

And yet, in the 35 years Dragon Quest has been around, there’s been exactly one person who’s written music for it: Koichi Sugiyama. Sugiyama single-handedly composed more than 500 pieces of music for the series, but he’ll no longer be adding to that count, as Square Enix has released a statement saying that the composer has passed away.

In a message posted to the top of the official Japanese Dragon Quest website, Square Enix explains that Sugiyama passed away on September 30 from Septic shock. He was 90 years old.

Being born in 1931, Sugiyama’s music career began long before not only Dragon Quest, but before the commercial video game industry itself even existed. He’d already achieved fame and success in Japan composing pop songs and soundtracks for movies, TV shows, and commercials before a fan letter he wrote to Enix (prior to the company’s merger with Square) led the company to ask him to compose music for their games.

▼ “Erdrick’s Theme,” also known as “Roto’s Theme” or just “the Dragon Quest theme,” is one of the most well-known pieces of music in Japan, but took hardly any time to write.

Sugiyama’s passing doesn’t mean that all of his music has already been heard, however. “[Sugiyama’s] compositions for the currently in-production Dragon Quest XII-The Flames of Fate have become his final work,” Square Enix’s statement says, though it’s unclear if Sugiyama had finished the entire soundtrack for the game, which does not yet have a release date, or if another composer will need to be brought in to finish the score. “We had hoped to continue working together, and we are deeply saddened, but his Dragon Quest music will remain in fans’ memories forever, and continue to live on in the world of Dragon Quest.”

A private funeral for family members has already been held, and Square Enix says that a memorial for industry members and friends is being planned, with details to be announced at a later date.

Source: Dragon Quest official website via Otakomu
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