Yesterday saw the surprise announcement of many upcoming Switch eShop games, one of which was of special interest to fans of the vintage Game Boy. However, despite looking every inch like a classic monochrome title from 1989, Save me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San is the work of 23-year-old Frenchman Christophe Galati.

We were lucky enough to speak to Galati following the announcement, and spoke about the game, its inspirations and what it's like working with publisher Nicalis.

Nintendo Life: First of all, congratulations on the upcoming release of Save Me Mr Tako: Tasukete Tako-San on Nintendo Switch. Can you tell us a little about the development process?

Christophe Galati: Thank you! One of my main goals was to release the game on a Nintendo console. That’s why, when I started the game’s development three years ago, I registered on the Wii U development program. But before I finished the game, the Switch was out. As a Game Boy tribute, the handheld aspect of the Switch suited the game more. The port development started in May, after I signed with Nicalis, and it went very well. I can’t wait for everyone to experience the game on Switch.

Tako-San, in terms of looks, is a love letter to the Game Boy era. It must be exciting to launch on Nintendo platform. 

I didn’t own a Wii U, but as a big Nintendo fan, I was hoping that they would be able to come back into gamers’ hearts. I was sold on the Switch right after the announcement trailer, and even more so after I owned one. Releasing my game on such a great console really feels like a dream come true.

There are platforming as well as RPG elements to Tako-San. Was there any aspect that was the main focus, or did everything come together organically? 

When I started the game, I was still a student. Then I worked in the game industry to repay my student loan, so the game was developed mostly in my free time. I had a vision right at the beginning, after eating Takoyaki for the first time. As a big JRPG fan, story is very important for me, so I often visualize the universe and gameplay at the same time when conceiving a game. I first made a gameplay demo that I released for the Game Boy 25th anniversary, but then I couldn’t resist turning the ideas I had into a full story. It took three years, but all the pieces fit together organically and I’m happy with the result.

What games have influenced Tako-San? 

When conceiving the gameplay, I tried to take inspiration from all the Game Boy games I love, starting with KirbyThe Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening and Metroid II, which are the three main inspirations for the game. But I also took some inspiration from games like Seiken DensetsuKaeru no tame ni kane wa naru and Survival Kids. In terms of story, I was more inspired by Final Fantasy VIThe Little Mermaid and Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.

The game not only shows aesthetic influences, but a strong influence from Japanese culture. What's the reception been like in Japan?

My goal was to pay homage to Japanese games, because they helped me a lot in the dark times of my life. That’s why the game has a Japanese name, even though I’m French. Right after I released the first demo, Japanese players were the first to start talking about the game, and I even got a famous Japanese game streamer playing the game. It was very heartwarming. Then I was selected to appear in the indie area at the Tokyo Game Show 2016. I was able to go to Japan for the first time, and meet with those players who supported me right from the beginning. I was able to return for BitSummit this year. It still feels kind of surreal for me to have been able to go this far with my game.

When did the relationship with Nicalis start?

At first, I wanted to do everything by myself. I wanted to learn all the aspects of game development, like marketing and communications. But I sent the first demo of the game to Nicalis anyway, because I loved their games and wanted their feedback. I was very surprised when they answered me! After that I kept sending them GIFs of the game’s progress, and finally met them for the first time during the Tokyo Game Show. Then we negotiated a contract and I finally signed with them in May 2017. 

They have been great advocates for physical releases with The Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth+ and Cave Story+, to name just two. Is there any possibility of a physical release for Tako-San?

I hope so! I’d love to have a physical release of Tako-San, but I guess it’s too early to confirm it. Stay tuned!

Any idea of a release date yet?

Right now the game is in the beta testing phase. The release date will depend on that, and on the Nintendo certification process. The game is planned for the fourth quarter of 2017.