Yoko Taro is an incredibly talented video game director and writer. Games that he’s worked on include Drakengard, SINoALICE, Nier, and Nier: Automata. He’s pushed video games in extreme ways that create beautiful experiences. There’s a level of polish and finesse exhibited. Platinum Games published a post about the music in Nier Automata that I found really interesting.
The music is all over the place in really amazing and interesting ways. One thing which makes it interesting is the vocals are often a mix of languages, between old Gaelic, French, Japanese, and English. This means no matter what you speak it is slightly foreign and like it’s from another time and place.
In Nier: Automata parts of the game are “Hacking” sections. At these points the game’s music switches over to an “8-bit” version which is much lower fidelity and sounds reminiscent of older video games instead of the orchestra of the normal soundtrack.
However, not all pieces of their score for NieR: Automata received an 8-bit track - for the amount of music they have it was nearly untenable. Part of this has to do with some of the systems they had around mixing different tracks together. They instead developed a system that automatically created the chiptune music from the traditional orchestral score.
This was done by bucketing 48 tones across 4 octaves out of the score, distoring them aggressively, removing anything that was below a specific level to make the output clearer, and applying it back over the original song.
You can see how it worked in practice on their Youtube channel.