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Hello everyone, I’m Marc-Antoine Archier, the composer and sound designer on Save me Mr Tako!

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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.

Old POULPE
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3:30
My very first attempt to do some "chiptune"

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.

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A tracker. Scary, isn’t it ?

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.

Old Poulpe D1
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3:30
The first iteration of the main theme
CS Menu 2
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3:32
The final version of the main theme

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.

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The main theme on sheet

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The main theme on the Delfemask’s tracker

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.

Old Poulpe D3
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3:33
The first version of the battlefield theme
world3_level1_(battlefield)
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4:44
The final version of the battlefield theme

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!

Old_A1
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5:55
The first version of the credits song
cs_credits
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6:66
The final version of the credits song
act2_dungeon_floatingRock
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7:77
Bonus: A song that wasn’t in the Bandcamp release :)