Among devotees of video-game music, Kirkhope has a particularly ardent following, with which he heartily engages online. "Apart from making gamers' lives brighter for decades he's made the transition to bona fide Internet celebrity," says David W. Lloyd, founder of OC ReMix, an online community devoted to covers of video-game music, to which Kirkhope himself has contributed. "He's established a great modern relationship with his fans."
In a sense, Kirkhope's whole life in music has been building up to his latest project: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, a turn-based tactical role-playing video game developed by Ubisoft for the Nintendo Switch, released at the end of August. When the game was unveiled at E3 in June, seemingly out of nowhere, the reception was mixed: some hardcore Nintendo fans, in particular, were unsure what to make of it. But there was one aspect that was met with unanimous and passionate approval: Kirkhope's musical involvement.
"Grant Kirkhope making music for a Mario game," went one YouTube comment. "WHAT TIMELINE IS THIS."
"Given Grant Kirkhope's musical prowess," read another, "imagine what it would sound like if he... oh, you know, REMIXES THE SUPER MARIO BROS THEME?!"
It was way back in 2014 that Kirkhope met with Ubisoft in their Paris offices, "in the secret place in the back, behind a very big door with a big lock on it." He couldn't believe it when Mario appeared on the screen. "It wasn't till later when I got back to the hotel, that I started thinking, this is really serious," he says. "I just stared to go, 'Oh my God, how am I going to make music for Mario? The best-known character in the world?' I guess, next to Mickey Mouse. It's the same level as far as I'm concerned. I started to get slightly scared at that point."