fds.jpg ['Cherish The Chips' is a bi-weekly column by Jeremiah 'Nullsleep' Johnson, discussing the latest and greatest goings-on in the world of the 'chiptune', and covering the best classic or modern music created using those pesky video game machines.]

DS On The Fast Track

The big news this week is the completely out-of-nowhere release of NitroTracker for the Nintendo DS. The top-secret, spare-time project of RWTH Aachen University student, Tobias Weyand, is based on FastTracker II and it shows. The familiar tracker layout gives the program a friendly face and a good feature set is already present in this first release. NitroTracker looks to be an excellent addition to the current batch of tools used for writing music on Nintendo hardware.

lsdj.jpgDamn Sensible Design Solutions

Of course you get the basics: partial support for the XM file format that many PC trackers use, the ability to load your own WAV samples, and a whopping 16 channels (about 12 more than I'd have any idea what to do with). But one of the things that NitroTracker does best is capitalize on the unique strengths of the DS. Commenting on the practicality of tracking music on a handheld, Tobias has this to say on the official website, "because of the touchscreen and stylus of the DS, it's quite easy. You can compose your melodies using an on-screen keyboard, directly edit your patterns by making selections, copying and pasting - all with the stylus." Indeed, this sounds totally hot to us! Tobias then goes on to say, "that's not where it ends: If you don't have any samples at hand, make your own with the DS's microphone." Add an option for drawing waveforms with the stylus and we'll be in heaven.

nru_logo.jpg Turntables and Touchscreens

While that isn't yet on the list of planned features, there are some other interesting items to note. Some of the most important being expansion of XM support to include effects and support for other formats such as MOD, IT and S3M. Other improvements, like the mention of supporting 32 or more channels and sample postprocessing, indicate that this is certainly intended as more than just a tracker for chiptunes. So while it may not appeal to people who write chiptunes out of a love for limitations, it is definitely attractive as a more general electronic music production studio on the go. Has the time come for Nintendo to take note and start embracing this culture? The world better be prepared for a whole new generation of DS DJs.

[Jeremiah Johnson is co-founder of chipmusic and computer-art collective, 8bitpeoples.com based out of New York City. Working with Game Boys and NES consoles to create music, he has been featured in various publications ranging from Wired to Vogue.]