Tribute to Grant Kirkhope

Last week, we paid tribute to On, the creator of EyezMaze, for his game Tontie Hammer, the main inspiration for the gameplay of Kawaii Killer.

AudioplumToday, we’d like to focus on the music. We did not make the sounds alone, we worked with Audioplum Studio for the sound design. We had already worked with them for the prototype of the game during a Game JamKawaii Must Die, and we wanted to continue with them. We gave them some guidance concerning the music we wanted, but they were also given creative freedom.

The essence of the OST

First, they sent us two versions for the main theme for the title screen. The first was a J-Pop version with some retro sounds, which was discarded. The second was more rhythmic and used 8/16 bits / General Midi sounds, with some battery and electric guitar.

Behind this rock’n’roll style was what was to become the essence of the OST, It is a style I love thanks to another composer: Grant Kirkhope. The melodies Audioplum sent us reminded me of Banjo-Kazooie, one of my favorite games. I immediately added this in the inspiration’s list, because Audioplum did not know about Banjo Kazooie nor Grant Kirkhope. We removed the battery and electric guitar and kept only the “kawaii” part of the music. The other musics came easily, with the inspiration of Banjo-Kazooie and the talent of Audioplum.

 

Here’s the first version of the main theme proposed by Audioplum:

 

And here’s the final version:

 

The composer of the soundtrack, Laurent Péju, tells us more:
“The musics of Kawaii Killer are inspired from games like Banjo-Kazooie and Mario Bros. (my childhood was full of Mario melodies…). Even though I referred to the Chip Tune movement, I tried to bring more modernity to the sound by incorporating 16 bits sounds, especially a guitar at the end of the main theme. This game has some retro references, but it has in my opinion a more contemporary soul, that’s why I tried to keep away from pire 8-bits sounds (e.g. NES sounds).
For the arcade mode, the idea from Tabemasu Games was to create a music per season. We had to use some clichés for each season to be consistent with Kawaii Killer’s humor. Finally, concerning the Speedrun mode, Tabemasu Games wanted to make the music evolve with the player actions. It was natural them to go from a 16-bits music to the same one with poorer sounds, in 8-bits.”

The Speedrun mode and Grunty’s Lair

Banjo_and_Kazooie_(Banjo-Kazooie)Indeed, the speedrun music is very particular, because it’s composed of 3 different tracks. These are played depending on the player skill. In the beginning, the music is quite simple, but it gains new instruments and effects if the player does not make mistakes. The game environment also changes with the music, going from a grey and cloudy  landscape to a more colorful and happy one. This cohesion between the gameplay and music comes also from Banjo-Kazooie, the most obvious example being the main hub theme: “Grunty’s Lair“. The melody is always the same, but the instruments change depending on where the player is. When the player is next to the aztec world, the melody is played by a pan flute, with voices saying some kind of mystical words. But when the player approaches the island leveltwo accordions play a pirate version of the theme.

 

And this principle can be found through the whole game, each level having its theme modified multiple times depending on the player location. For instance, the Click Clock Wood level has 24 different tracks, which are played depending on the season and the player actions. A few weeks ago, Grant Kirkhope published the absolutely-complete soundtrack of Banjo-Kazooie, with every music used in the game. It’s interesting to hear these variations and imagine the amount of work done on this game. This music can be found here: Banjo​-​Kazooie: Everything and the Kitchen Sink!

Thank you Grant for this amazing work!
We are very happy with the Kawaii Killer music, and we hope that our next games will have a high quality soundtrack as well.
Bonus: The music from the first level, Spring:
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