Kankichi-kun (かんきちくん) (also known as N-SPC) is the official name of the music software and sound driver developed by Nintendo of Japan.
According to composers who used the software, the program operated in a similar fashion to a MIDI sequencer. Music was also written in Music Macro Language. The program ran on a Sony NEWS computer. However, there were also several composers who said they had to write the music in assembly, and on other computers.
Composers could make their own instrument samples using a program called Tako Sample (タコサンプル). Tako is Japanese for Octopus, and it is most likely named after the 8 sound channels that the N-SPC provided. There was allegedly another program titled Squid Listen (イカリッスン = Listen Below) would be used for sample editing and playback.
Initially, developers who purchased Nintendo's expensive development systems received the IS-SOUND development system, but later moved on to using an improved version by Nintendo called SNES Emulator SE. They would also receive documentation from Nintendo explaining how to use the hardware. For example, one of the documents is titled Super NES Emulator Operation Manual. Alternatively, developers used SF Box by Ricoh, and succeeded by SF Box 2.
Kankichi-kun was not only used by Japanese developers, but was also used by American and European developers as well, each with their own modifications. As a result, there are many, many variants of the driver.
The driver credits a Y.K, presumably Yukio Kaneoka, a sound engineer for Nintendo at the time. This is most likely the case, as Kaneoka was still being credited in games for audio in SNES games, F-Zero for example.
A detailed description of the program and its associated hardware and software can be seen in the links below.
While the sequencer itself has not been released, there are some games that used its source code, which have had their source code released. Some of the source files are called KAN.ASM, no doubt referring to the program's name.
- gdri.smspower.org/wiki/index.php/Super_Famicom/Super_NES_Sound_Driver_List - List of every SNES sound driver, including Kankichi-kun and its variants.
- youtube.com/watch?v=lA3LzyH6cEg - GST Channel: How to Make SNES Music (in 1995)