Now I Really Have A Game Boy

Back in high school I discovered the music of Virt, a video game musician who back then was using Impulse Tracker to simulate the sound of the NES. Some of my favorites was his “Classical Favorites” tracks, available from his chiptunes page, albeit in tracker formats.

At the time, I was spending a lot of my own free time writing music with Impulse Tracker, so I dabbled a little bit in faking NES music, in my “LOFI” series, with some pleasing results. This was back around 2000 or so. I never quite got back into it, sadly.

Later on, I discovered 8bitpeoples, a musical collective of chiptune artists. I went to their Data Destruction Tour in Boston and got to talk to and admire the music of Bit Shifter, Nullsleep, and Covox. I wrote a little bit about their music in a post for alwaysBETA.

Anyway it’s been a couple years since then, and I’ve been excited to find out that Nullsleep, Bit Shifter, and crew are performing a showcase and debuting a documentary at this year’s SXSW festivals here in Austin. Needless to say, I got pretty stoked.

This revived my long-standing desire to get one of the handful of different Game Boy cartridges that people have made for writing chiptunes. The one I’d wanted for a long time is named Nanoloop, and I’m glad to say that I finally bit the builet and bought an original 1989 model Game Boy and the Nanoloop 1.3 cartridge!

For my first song, I took one of my old LOFI tracks and spent a short amount of time trying to mock it up on the actual Game Boy, to see how close I had come to simulating the real sound.

The results of this experiment are found in LOFI2. Compare with the original LOFI2, and please keep in mind that there are a lot more restrictions with using Nanoloop and a real Game Boy than I had in Impulse Tracker.

After a couple days, I put forth a little bit more effort and wrote my first completely new Game Boy track, Goof Step. For this track, I kept things simple by only writing one pattern for each of the four available channels. I merely turn them on and off at strategic times to create the structure of the track. I’m pretty pleased with the results, and soon enough I will pursue a more ambitious and complete track.



Grant Hutchins @nertzy