If you grew up during the 1980s or 1990s, there's a good chance that you spent more time listening to the music of Hirokazu Tanaka than to many of your favorite pop songs. Such was the reach of the work that the Kyoto native created during his nearly 20-year tenure as a sound designer at Nintendo, as the company branched out from manufacturing playing cards and children's toys to become one of the world's biggest video game makers.

Tanaka's soundtracks for Nintendo Famicom (NES) titles such as "Metroid," "Kid Icarus" and "Mother" (along with its Super Famicom sequel, "Mother 2," released overseas as "EarthBound") are now considered classics of the genre.

He composed the music for Game Boy staples including "Tetris" and "Super Mario Land," as well as developing the audio hardware that played them. Later in his career, he became in-house composer for the "Pokemon" animated TV series, winning another generation of unwitting fans.