Hello everyone, I’m Marc-Antoine Archier, the composer and sound designer on Save me Mr Tako!
A few years ago, I met the game’s designer Christophe Galati at a GameJam in Paris. I created a couple of songs for his then-current project and the next week, as he liked what I had done, he asked me if I wanted to work with him on Save me Mr Tako! He let me know that it would be a smaller project (it was originally a runner!) and that it would need a half-dozen tracks. I wanted to try to do some chiptunes, so I accepted his proposition and started to search for documentation about how to produce this kind of music. At this time, I knew almost nothing about the chiptune style except for the music of Jake Kaufman.
I first tried to emulate the sounds of the Game Boy with a virtual instrument by Plogue called chipsounds. This a great tool that allowed me to use some very authentic sounds, but I ended up realizing that if it’s great for traditional musical purposes (like adding some “chiptune” sounds in a regular tune), it wasn’t accurate enough to provide a truly authentic feeling. Also, I would realize later that the software you work with tends to shape your style.
Thus, my very first attempts were a little bit clumsy as I did not fully understand the constraint of the hardware I was working with. I struggled with that program for a few weeks before realizing that it would be way more interesting to work with a different kind of software that I read about called Tracker. So, I downloaded some trackers and I started following some tutorials that explained what those weird numbers, columns and cells could mean. And it was hard.
I had to be patient and persistent to understand the way it worked, and it took me a certain amount of time to be productive enough. But it was worth it. I really enjoyed writing music this way, and I like to compare it to the way you compose for the keyboard. You don’t have a lot of different sounds and effects, so you need to use them very wisely.
Once I understood how the Game Boy hardware worked and how trackers were used, I was ready to start. At the beginning, I started to compose on musical sheets before copying it into Tracker. I was more comfortable composing this way, but it was tedious because I basically had to write each song twice. After dozens of songs, I started to work directly in Tracker as it would save me a great amount of time.
As I said earlier, the software you use to compose tends to shape your style, and as I got used to working with Tracker, I felt like I arrived at a better understanding of the codes of the chiptune style. It was really gratifying.
Meanwhile, the scope of Save me Mr Tako! kept growing. From the initial six songs, Christophe later asked me for a total of 12. Then, for about 20. Then 30, and so on and so on, until we reached a final total of 110 songs!
It was a lot of work. I had to write all these songs around my studies (I was studying sound design in a video game school) and then around my work (as a sound engineer in a dubbing studio), but It was totally worth it. I learned a lot about music and about tech on this project and I would probably do it again if Christophe asked me to.
Thanks for reading this, and I wish you a pleasant day!