New 8-bit album turns your NES into a joyous jukebox – CNET
You’re in luck if you’ve held onto a Nintendo Entertainment System, as 2016 is once again time for the classic console to shine.
On January 30, artist and developer Riki Iwasaki released 8-Bit Music Power, a chiptune album that plays off a NES cartridge instead of a CD, meaning you’ll need Nintendo’s original home console, first released as the Famicon in Japan in 1983, to listen to it.
Chiptunes, music crafted with 8-bit sound effects, were popular back in the ’80s but went out of style in the ’90s. The last 10 years, however, have seen a resurgence in chiptune popularity, with many artists using the genre to pay loving homage to retro console and arcade videogames. 8-Bit Music Power is more than just an album though, as it turns the NES into a jukebox, with a multitude of visual flair accompanying its 11 tracks.
A first run of 1,000 was produced, but all of those were sold in three days. Prior to its release, 8-Bit Music Power peaked at No. 3 on Amazon Japan’s pre-order chart, just two positions below Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege. The project has proved a hit in Japan, and on Saturday Iwasaki played music from the project at the Bit Music Power Live event in Toyko’s Akihabara district.
Iwasaki is known for Kira Kira Star Night, which was designed to resemble an 8-bit NES game. Kira Kira Star Night proved popular among gamers, winning the Mobius Strip Prize for Innovation as well as coming in at second place for the Vermillion Gate Award for fan favourite game of 2013. A Manga writer and illustrator, Iwasaki began his career as a developer when a friend asked him to repair a broken game cartridge. He was unable to salvage the cartridge, instead modifying the game into what would become Kira Kira Star Night.
8-Bit Music Power was borne out of Iwasaki’s love of retro games as well as his growing list of connections in the indie circuit. He worked with chiptune composers across Japan for the album, and further learned NES programming to give the music the most organic feeling visual accompaniment possible.
For anyone who still loves the games of yore and the poppy, energetic music of their gaming youths — and still has an NES — the album can be found on Amazon.co.jp, priced at ￥4,104 (US$35, AU$50, £25).