Koji Kondo's work shows at least three major influences: Latin music, jazz music, and classical music (mainly ragtime and march music), often with a strong cinematic flair. Latin is particularly evident in his bouncy themes throughout the Mario series, such as the soundtrack to Super Mario Bros. 3. The happy main theme has a slow, samba-like rhythm. The second theme offers a more up-beat, ragtime-like style. The Bowser theme would not sound out of place being played by a Mexican mariachi band. This influence also shows up in his more recent works, such as the Gerudo Valley theme from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a song with a certain stereotypical Andalusian flair.
Kondo's more jazz-influenced pieces also come from a wide variety of projects. One of the earliest examples of this is his minimalist underground theme from the first Super Mario Bros. Saria's theme from Ocarina of Time sounds almost Dixieland in places. All of this is hardly surprising; Kondo lists the late Henry Mancini as one of his most admired influences.
Kondo was trained as a classical musician, and this shows in his more ambitious projects, such as the soundtracks to the Zelda and Star Fox series . These pieces are distinctively cinematic, reminiscent of John Williams' work on Star Wars or Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The title theme to the 1986 The Legend of Zelda is grandiose for all its low fidelity. Several of Mr. Kondo's themes have been famously recorded with full orchestral backing, with several tours of his work featured highly in concerts presented world-wide .
Kondo's work is also highly influenced by Eastern Asian music. His songs are predominantly melody-based with little supporting harmony, which is in keeping with the Asian tradition. This makes him somewhat unique among the most popular video game composers, as his counterparts such as Nobuo Uematsu and Koichi Sugiyama produce more Western-sounding compositions for their games.