Select your localized edition:

Close ×

More Ways to Connect

Discover one of our 28 local entrepreneurial communities »

Be the first to know as we launch in new countries and markets around the globe.

Interested in bringing MIT Technology Review to your local market?

MIT Technology ReviewMIT Technology Review - logo

 

Unsupported browser: Your browser does not meet modern web standards. See how it scores »

In music clubs and dorm rooms around the world, intrepid geeks are transforming Nintendo’s handheld Game Boy system into a do-it-yourself musical instrument. The device can be made to sequence its embedded sounds – digital blips and bleeps of the Donkey Kong sort – as if it were a synthesizer.

First you find a programmable Game Boy flash memory cartridge and hook it up to your PC. Then you download a “chiptunes” music program, some of which are freely available, and transfer it to the cartridge. Once your Game Boy is loaded, you hit its controller buttons to arrange its signature sounds.

The results sound like computer game music of unusual complexity. Online, Game Boy musicians have posted their arrangements of songs ranging from “Let It Snow” to “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode.

Game hacking is nothing new. Enthusiasts of classic computers such as the Commodore 64 continue to churn out new uses for old systems. But chiptunes is the hot trend these days. In 2005, the alternative rock artist Beck embraced the medium, releasing Game Boy remixes of four of his songs.

Nintendo won’t comment on the trend. But silence doesn’t necessarily mean condemnation. “If it doesn’t affect bottom line and [does] create interest in the platform in unique and novel ways,” says Michael Gartenberg, a vice president at JupiterResearch, “companies like Nintendo are comfortable with it.”

1 comment. Share your thoughts »

Tagged: Computing

Reprints and Permissions | Send feedback to the editor

From the Archives

Close

Introducing MIT Technology Review Insider.

Already a Magazine subscriber?

You're automatically an Insider. It's easy to activate or upgrade your account.

Activate Your Account

Become an Insider

It's the new way to subscribe. Get even more of the tech news, research, and discoveries you crave.

Sign Up

Learn More

Find out why MIT Technology Review Insider is for you and explore your options.

Show Me
×

A Place of Inspiration

Understand the technologies that are changing business and driving the new global economy.

September 23-25, 2014
Register »