Always Nintendo Talks With Christophe Galati

You may not know the name Christophe Galati now, but you will soon enough.

Galati, a 20 year old French game designer, is working on his first commercial title dubbed Tasukete Tako-San: Save me Mr. Tako. As you can see below, the game proudly wears its portable heritage on its sleeve, which is refreshing considering how many NES look-alikes are out there nowadays. Even though the Nintendo handheld is fondly remembered by most, there aren’t many recent examples of strictly Game Boy-inspired games on the market outside of 2013’s Two Brothers for PC, and even that is sort of a stretch.

With some hard work and a bit of luck, Galati is looking to change all that with his plucky octopus platformer, reminding us that the Game Boy is an era of gaming well worth revisiting even in 2015.

Trace: First off, tell me a little bit about your first encounter with video games.

Christophe: I don’t remember exactly the first game I played, but I have a lot childhood memories associated with them. I remember one time when I was 7 where a teacher confiscated my Game Boy with Pokémon Blue. I also remember emulating Zelda on my old Windows 95 computer. We actually had a lot of NES and SNES games around the house because my older brother collected video games, so my sister and I would often play his copy of Ice Climbers and other stuff like that. My big brother also made sure we played his games in a certain order so, for example, we didn’t have the right to play Final Fantasy until we completed Secret of Mana. One thing is for sure: I grew up surrounded by almost exclusively Nintendo consoles.

Trace: So what’s your all-time favorite video game then?

Christophe: I can never decide between Majora’s Mask and Final Fantasy VI (Final Fantasy III in America).

Trace: How come you chose the title Tasukete Tako-San: Save Me Mr. Tako? Why include the Japanese in the name?

Christophe: I included the Japanese name for several reasons, the first being that I wanted to pay tribute to the classic Japanese games I grew up with. The second reason is that my game design professor told me that only Japanese people can make “Japanese” games, so I wanted to prove to everybody that even a Frenchman like myself can make a Japanese-styled game. Lucky for me, Tako has been very well received with Japanese audiences, so I must be doing something right!

Trace: I really love that Tako-San is an octopus, but I’m wondering if you ever had another type of character in mind when starting this project, or was it always going to star the tentacled protagonist?

Christophe: Right from the beginning, the game starred an octopus. I was eating a lot of takoyaki when I first started working on the game, so that may have subconsciously influenced me. I also wanted to create an octopus character that wasn’t a bad guy or like the ones seen in hentai movies. Tako is just a nice octopus that wants to save the world.

Trace: Personally, when I look at your game, I think about games like Kirby’s Dream Land 2 and For the Frog the Bell Tolls, but which specific games did you look to for inspiration for this project?

Christophe: I’d say my main influence is Kirby’s Dream Land for the Game Boy. I was also inspired by Mario games, the 2D Castlevanias, Zelda II and of course Link’s Awakening.

Trace: One really cool thing about this game is the hat system where players find dozens of different hats for Tako-San to wear and each hat represents a new ability or affects Tako-San’s innate skills. Where did the idea for this mechanic come from?

Christophe: Well, I took a lot of inspiration from Kirby, but also Binding of Isaac. When I first started on the project, it was purely a runner-style game with semi-randomly generated levels and I did that because I wanted the player to never have two playthroughs be exactly alike. With the random hat power-ups, there is an element of surprise and discovery each time you play, plus it’s fun to collect hats for Tako to wear. And with all these different hats, it opened up a multitude of possibilities for the game’s story mode.

Trace: 1001 Spikes is an recent example of a retro-styled game that had great multiplayer co-op and versus modes that drew upon older NES games like Ice Climbers and Mario Bros., so I wonder, are you planning do something similar with Tako-San’s multiplayer?

Christophe: The Game Boy could only do two-player multiplayer with the Cable Link, but for my game I wanted to make a four-player multiplayer mode. I’m actually planning on doing two multiplayer modes, one of which is a cooperative version of the runner mode and the other is an arena versus mode sort of like Towerfall but with my hat system. It was initially challenging to differentiate between four, tiny pixelated octopuses when they were all on screen at once, but I have since included little details like different eye shapes and the respective player number to make it all work.

Trace: Do you have any special features planned for the Wii U version of the game like off-screen play?

Christophe: Since I’m currently making the game on PC, I haven’t really thought about implementing any GamePad features yet, but I intend to try some things out once I have my Wii U DevKit.

Trace: I’ll bet you were pretty excited to hear the recent news about Unity support for the New 3DS. Any chance we’ll get to play Tako-San on 3DS in the future?

Christophe: Yeah, when I heard that news I was really happy. The whole reason for choosing to bring Tako to Wii U was because 3DS wasn’t a viable option at the time, but since this game is obviously a tribute to Game Boy games, I definitely envisioned it as a handheld experience. I’m really hoping to bring it to 3DS eventually.

Trace: If the game does does well, would you ever considered making a sequel? And would it still be Game Boy-inspired or would you go for an entirely different approach?

Christophe: Before even thinking about sequels, I want to finish this one and make it the best it can be, but I don’t know if I’d make a sequel. I have a lot of other ideas and stories in mind that I’d probably consider first. But if I had to make another, I don’t think it would be another Game Boy-style game. Probably something with more color; I’d sort of like to have Tako follow the trend of video game history.

Trace: Finally, when are you planning on releasing Tako-San into the wild?

Christophe: At this point, it’s very hard to define a precise release date because I can only work on the project in my free time. I’m charge of all the programming, game design, and graphics, so that can be challenging to do all by myself. I hope to have it out before the end of 2016.

Trace: Anything else you’d like to share?

Christophe: I’d like to give a shout out to the very talented Marc-Antoine Archier, the sound designer and composer for Tako. He’s the oft-forgotten one in all these articles about the game, so big thanks to him!

If you’d like to learn more about Tasukete Tako-San: Save me Mr. Tako then head here for additional information and even a playable demo for PC, Mac, and Linux. For more on Galati himself and his past work, there’s always his Twitter as well as his site to visit.

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About The Author

Former Co-Editor

Trace Wysaske lives somewhere in Washington, and when he isn't compulsively hunting Green Stars or felling the Lagiacrus, he's writing about everything from forlorn Japanese teachers to well-mannered crows. He still needs to play Ghost Trick.