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An Interview with Tomoya Koga, an Individual - Part One

This first half of Nicolaas Hamman's interview with Tomoya Koga, a guitarist and former SEGA composer you might know from hearing his works in The King of Route 66, BORDER BREAK and the Virtua Fighter series.

In preparation for his Individual episode which debuted on the 10th of August 2022 (originally scheduled for the 3rd), Nicolaas gathered together the courage to message Tomoya Koga so he could get some more information to share for that particular episode. It took some time, but here we can proudly present their chat. 

His answers are presented in both English and Japanese as Nic didn't actually translate any of his English text as Koga-san did, thus best to preserve every line so that anyone with fluency in both languages can spot where misunderstandings may have occurred.

Lastly, a brief summary if you're not familiar with the man himself: Tomoya Koga, born in Chiba Prefecture, Japan on 8th June 1970, began working as a session guitarist in 1994, which soon included lots of SEGA games as later enough he began composing for the company, and in 2005 became an full-on employee, working for SEGA's AM R&D 2 department. He left in 2009, but still contributed guitarist works to some SEGA projects, mostly the BORDER BREAK and Virtua Fighter series. For an in-depth history, please check out Individual Season/Series 2 Episode 10: Tomoya Koga from our Media section.


Without any further ado, here's part one of their interview. Enjoy! 


Q: How did you become a musician, and specifically, a guitar lover? Were there other instruments you were interested in?


A: I was thinking about becoming a drummer but there was none to play, so I started playing my brother's guitar which was close to me. It took me a week to play the C chord but I became the best guitarist around my neighbours after a half year.




Q: Have you gone through a lot of guitars and other equipment throughout the years?




A: My main guitar is a custom type one from Aircraft. I use tele, strat, and les pauls without selling or buying. And I have some bass, acoustic, gut string guitar, loads of pedals, midis and other stuff. So much equipment is required.



Q: Even though it’s common, I’m still always surprised to find out a musician didn’t major in music in university. You majored in politics, right? Did you have a different career planned when you entered university? Did any of your fellow graduates also become musicians?


A: Originally I didn’t mean to be a professional musician but a governmental officer. However I couldn’t find anything attractive in those jobs so I decided to be a musician. Some fellows from my Uni are also musicians.




Q: You seem to have a history with Takumi Inohaya. Did you meet each other through Melodie Sexton? Were you the one who brought him on to perform on OutRun2?

イノハヤタクミさんと交流があるように思いますが、Melodie Sextonを通じて知り合ったのでしょうか?OutRun2で彼にパフォーマンスする様に働きかけたのはあなたですか?

A: He and I have been friends before Melodie Sexton. I asked him to help me in need of a percussionist for the arrangement of Outrun2.

Outrun2は私がアレンジを担当していたのでパーカッショニストが必要だったので彼にお願いをしました。彼とはMelodie Sextonをやる前から友人です。


Q: Most of OutRun2’s music features your guitars, but until the Xbox port Risky Ride didn’t because the final Arcade version is in a different key. Was it a relief when the Guitar Mix was eventually released?

ほとんどのアウトラン2の音楽要素はあなたのギターですが、アーケードの最終版ではキーが異なっているため、XboxまでRisky Rideはあなたのギターは入っていませんでしたよね? 最終的にギターのミックスが入って安心しましたか?

A: I’ve just listened to it now and I found that I didn’t play that guitar… but I guess I played…




Q: How’d you start playing guitar for SEGA? Games like NiGHTS into dreams…, NEON GENESIS EVANGELION 2nd Impression and J.LEAGUE PRO SOCCER CLUB O TSUKUROU! 2. Apparently the first J.LEAGUE PRO SOCCER CLUB WO TSUKUROU!! For 1996 was your first SEGA game?

どのようにしてセガの企画の中でギターを弾き始めたんでしょうか? 例を挙げるなら、NiGHTS into Dreams、新世紀エヴァンゲリオン 2nd ImpressionやJリーグ・プロサッカークラブを作ろう!などです。1996年のJリーグ〜がはじめて参加したセガのゲームでしょうか?

A: My first role in SEGA was a guitar in NiGHTS, asked by Akira Sasaki. After that, it looked like SEGA liked me and I joined some projects as a guitarist and a composer.



Q: Did that build the connections that lead to working on TOBAL2 and Cookie’s Bustle with other common SEGA session musicians like Akira Sasaki and Kouhei Okamura?


A: Yes it did build a connection with me as a guitarist.



Q: I wanted to ask for clarifications about some games I saw mentioned on your MySpace & faith music school profiles.

Fantasy Zone: Is that the SEGA Saturn version of the game? Virtua Tennis: Is that the original arcade/dreamcast game from 1999? I always assumed Chiho Kobayashi played all the guitars on that.

And what version of RENT A HERO did you arrange and play guitars for?


・ファンタジーゾーン: セガサターンverに参加したということでしょうか?

・バーチャテニス: 1999年のアーケード版/ドリームキャスト版のことでしょうか?コバヤシチホさんがギターを弾いていたと思っていました。

・レンタヒーロー: どのバージョンのアレンジとギターを担当されたんですか?

A: FZ: perhaps it was SEGA Saturn Ver but not sure..

VTennis: I played all the guitar which Chiho san wrote.

RHero: I don’t know much about versions but I remember I played a gut guitar.I played the final song here: 

1)ファンタジーゾーン: セガサターンverに参加したということでしょうか?


2)バーチャテニス: 1999年のアーケード版/ドリームキャスト版のことでしょうか?コバヤシチホさんがギターを弾いていたと思っていました。


3)・レンタヒーロー: どのバージョンのアレンジとギターを担当されたんですか?



Q: Was F355 Challenge the first work you composed for?


A: My first work on composing songs was for 18 Wheeler.



Q: F355 Challenge 2’s credits are just the Dreamcast F355 Challenge’s credits with the cabinet-related credits from Arcade F355 Challenge, so I’ve never been sure if both are accurate to their respective versions or there was copying errors that were overlooked. Did you work on music for both versions?


A: To be honest, I don’t remember which ver it was. I remember I composed the main song.



Q: You composed and played guitar for 18WHEELER on Dreamcast, but did you work the Arcade or PlayStation 2 versions as well?


A: Yes I perhaps did. I’m sure I made a lot of works. 



Q: Did you play the guitars in BEACH SPIKERS? I’ve never seen it said you were involved, but the guitars are so important to the soundtrack that I would be surprised if it were someone else.


A: I’ve searched about it and I found I didn’t join that one.




We'll have Part 2 of Nic's interview with Tomoya Koga next week, featuring his time working on the music of Virtua Fighter, SEGA-Race TV, Shinging Force Cross, and more!

15th February, 2023 - 22:47 GMT Twinny Article viewed 1128 times 0 Comments


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