Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Intelligent Machines

Game Boy Rock

Nintendo’s Game Boy can be hacked to create synthesizer-like original music.

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.

This story is part of our December 2005/January 2006 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

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.”

AI is here.
Own what happens next at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe and become an Insider.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}* Best Value

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

  • Insider Online Only {! insider.prices.online !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Unlimited online access including articles and video, plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.