Take a cute little tadpole, combined with a musical adventure, and you have the formula for one of the best-reviewed video games in the current gaming market. And it was all created in Baton Rouge.
Released this past August, “Tadpole Treble” is the creation of Taranto brothers Michael and Matthew under their indie label BitFinity Games. This is the brothers’ first collaboration together, and with the creation of the little tadpole, the Taranto brothers have succeeded with their first-ever video game.
“Michael and I grew up with the original Nintendo,” Matthew said. “And we played a lot of video games since we were kids, and we got a great love for the Nintendo series in particular like “Super Mario” series, “Legend of Zelda” series. Michael is a big Metroid fan; I’m a big “Zelda” fan, and we pretty much played a lot of Nintendo games as we grew up and that was kind of a big reason why we wanted to make the game for the Nintendo Wii U. So that was one of our side goals, and we were happy to accomplish that.”
The idea for the game came to Matthew nearly a decade ago while watching his father compose music. A big Nintendo fan, Matthew, while watching his father work, felt that the composition software was like watching a side-scrolling video game.
“I thought it would be cool to have a game where you dodge the notes in succession of the actual background song,” Matthew said. “And we decided to make that water-based…and we settled on a character, and that’s pretty much how the concept was born.”
“Growing up with our dad, he created musicals, and so we saw his love of creation, and it made us understand the process and we wanted to create something of our own that we could be equally proud of and enjoy,” Michael said.
The concept of the game centers on a little tadpole named Baton (named for both the music baton and for Baton Rouge), who is separated from his family. To get home, he must navigate through multiple streams, which are designed like musical staffs. Each brother brought their own talents to the game’s creation with Matthew working on the artwork and music, and Michael handling the marketing and programming.
According to Matthew, the music of the game was selected to be a wide variety of genres in order to stand out. Some of the songs are inspired by music Matthew enjoys such as Frank Sinatra or “Little Shop of Horrors.”
“That way I can pay homage to things I really like, while also provide a lot of variety in the process as well,” Matthew said.
The game appeals to ‘80s and ‘90s kids for it resembles a high definition version of “Mario Paint’s” music creation mode.
“It was intentional in that sense because that was one of my favorite video games growing up, and it had a composition mode where you could actually write songs, very rudimentary ones, and you could play them back,” Matthew said. “And we decided to put in a composition mode in the game itself, and I kind of looked at “Mario Paint” for a good idea of how to make something like that. Deep enough for people to really get into, but simple enough for younger kids and people who are not experienced with music to play around with.”
The game was funded via Kickstarter and raised $34,250. A huge boost in gaining that final total was through a built-in fan base of Matthew’s popular webcomic Brawl in the Family, which is a Nintendo parody.
“Having that fan base available helped jump start our game in the early years,” Matthew said.
Now, however, the game is gaining its own fan base. Currently, the PC version has a 90 out of 100 scores on the aggregate review site Metacritic.
“Overall we’re very pleased that people have enjoyed it as much as we enjoyed making it,” Michael said. “This is our first game, and we put a lot of heart and effort into it, and we think it shows, and we’re happy that people can see it as a project from two guys who enjoy video games and grew up with video games and have a love for music.”
“To add to that, the positive feedback actually surprised us,” Matthew said. “We were proud of what we had made, but we weren’t sure if it was too niche, or if not enough people would be appreciative of all the details and stuff we put into it. The feedback has been really encouraging to us, and we hope other people who are interested in the game check it out.”
However, it may be a while before the world receives a sequel to the game. While the idea of a sequel is not out of the realm of possibilities, the brothers are working on their next goals for their company.
“We were kind of talking about where to go next, and we do like the world of “Tadpole Treble,” and we wouldn’t write out a sequel, we’d keep it on the table, but our next idea would probably be to expand to a different genre,” Michael said.
“We are now looking to expand to the global market with ‘Tadpole Treble,’” Matthew said.
And the Baton Rouge video game scene is currently on fire. Under their indie label Bitfinity, the brothers work on their projects with the Level Up Lab based out of the Louisiana Tech Park. The tech park sees several indie game releases each year.
“What’s great about the indie development scene is that with the way games are distributed nowadays, you don’t have to have a factory to make cartridges or discs, you can just distribute them digitally,” Matthew said. “You can pretty much send your game anywhere in the world. I feel like in Louisiana the indie game industry will continue to grow from here.”
Photos courtesy of Bitfinity, LLC.