Top Posts

Features

Recent Comments

  • James Ives: 3D Dot Gamer Heroes is not voxel-based. read more
  • Soufiane KHIAT: I'm programmer in this project Thank if you like Walk The Line... If you have any question I can try to answer read more
  • kayin: 19 bucks does seem high, when you can get the similar, though less featured, Beatwave app for free. read more
  • Baines: I'm not fond of it at all. The mix of detailed textures and high resolution with low poly models and overall simple design is an read more
  • virtual golf: hi i read your blog . Your blog posts is very good . read more

About GameSetWatch

GameSetWatch.com is the alt.video game weblog and sister site of Gamasutra.com. It is dedicated to collecting curious links and media for offbeat and oft-ignored games from consoles old and new, as well as from the digital download, iOS, and indie spaces.

Read More

Column: Cherish The Chips

COLUMN: ‘Cherish The Chips’ - Parity 'til You Puke

April 6, 2006 3:18 PM |

pulsewave.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.]

PulseWave Rocks New York

For anyone in doubt about chiptunes being on the rise, there are some interesting developments in New York City that might convince you otherwise. Peter Swimm, administrator of the Toilville netlabel and guitarist in OMAC, as well as being a mighty chiptune musician in his own right under the guise of Mathletes, has spearheaded a new monthly live music event focusing specifically on low-bit music, called PulseWave. The kickoff show last Friday at Manhattan venue The Tank was an auspicioius start —

one-bit.jpgOne-Bit To Rule Them All

Tristan Perich was the first to play, sitting down at a drumkit to provide some beats for his bleeps. The bleeps being provided by his One-Bit Music project in which "Perich programs and packages electronics in a standard CD jewel case that generate minimal glitch/dance music when headphones are plugged in." The 1-bit sound may be simple, but in the best possible way. It's gritty and full of energy, and Tristan's live drumming suits it perfectly. And the crowd took to it immediately, you have not lived until you've seen a lanky dude in a mexican wrestling mask spontaneously begin spastically dancing to this stuff. If you can't catch a live performance though, consider picking up one of the limited edition copies of One-Bit Music, which comes with, "a silkscreened poster including the schematic, source code and part list."

bit_shifter.jpg Atomic Game Boy Kid

Next up was Bit Shifter, whose Game Boy based wizardry did not disappoint. Working with multiple GB units, NUBY lights attached to their screens like some type of glowing alien facehuggers, he proceeded to launch into a high energy set that didn't take long to set the room on fire. Somewhere around the half-way mark he succeeded in blowing out the tweeters in the PA with his sonic assault, giving the remainder of the night a Square Waves Under the Sea feeling. But it didn't matter much, by the end of his set Bit Shifter was the nucleus at the center of an atom of crazed, dancing maniacs, everyone burning up their mitochondria at a mean rate.

virt.jpgHave You Ever Seen a Chiptune God?

Virt took the stage last, and it was well worth the wait for his first NYC performance. With a setup that consisted of a Midines, laptop, keyboard, guitar, smoke machine, midi-synched lighting rig, and lasers, it was clear that he came prepared to flex his muscles. Appearing on stage in a puffy jacket, he looked like some kind of hip hop superstar that had been teleported into the world of chipmusic. But it was obvious that he was in his element, the hits did not stop coming for a second, an enhanced version of his cover of Michael Jackson's Thriller even made an appearance. And when he grabbed his electric guitar and started shredding away one-handed, over incomprehensibly intricate melodies, while playing keys with the other hand, the room began crackling with near limitless power. An amazing showing, and hopefully just the first of many more to come.

notendo.jpg Total Tileset Terrorism

Throughout the entire night Jeff Donaldson, also known as noteNdo, provided the visual component for the show. With dual circuit-bent NES consoles he threw switches, turned knobs and generally abused the hell out of helpless cartridges in time with the music. While most people get frustrated when they see their Nintendo glitch up, Jeff goes out of his way to mangle the graphics so far beyond their original appearance that they lose all context, becoming spasming, abstract, kinetic pixelscapes. The results are amazing, and his low-level controlled chaos provided the ideal complement for the obsessively meticulous chip programming behind the music.

The Pulse Is Rising

So, it's safe to say that this first PulseWave night bodes well for the future of the series. And The Tank's emerging reputation as the CBGBs of New York's chiptune scene will be further cemented this Friday night when we storm it once again for the International Chiptune Resistance World Tour fundraiser event. Beer will flow, old videogame hardware will be lovingly exploited, and I'll probably punch someone in the face for screaming out "Play the Tetris song!" — but those sore knuckles will be totally worth it.

[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.]

COLUMN: ‘Cherish The Chips’ - DS Gets Up To Get Down

March 22, 2006 8:41 PM |

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.]

Cherish The Chips: Nintendo A Go Go

March 8, 2006 3:12 PM |

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.]

Nintendo Gets Its Chip On

Chiptunes are nothing new, their history stretches back to the 1980's when kids first started making music with their Commodore and Atari computers, a tradition still kept alive today. But what about Nintendo? Up until the turn of the century, the NES and Game Boy were content to stick to their roles as gaming machines and nothing more. But now, with a diverse selection of tools for writing the music, and a thriving community of musicians harnessing the hardware, this relatively young scene is reaching maturity.

lsdj.jpgPocket Full of Bleep

The Game Boy's got a lot going for it, small, portable, battery-powered and built like a tank, it's an all-terrain music workstation. Combine it with LSDJ or Nanoloop, the two most popular pieces of software for creating Game Boy music, and you can push the little grey brick to it's limits. Although their interfaces differ drastically, the first presenting a standard tracker interface and the latter a semi-abstract matrix of squares, they both afford a high degree of control over the sound capabilities of the GB. And there are plenty of great examples of how far you can push it, take the new release by Bit Shifter or the japanese lo-fi trance stylings of USK just for starters.

nru_logo.jpg NES Tracking, Not Just For Nerds

Then there's the big brother, the NES or Famicom, depending on what region of the world you're in. While the first tracker to show up for the NES, Nerdtracker 2, was originally conceived of as an entry into a 'most useless utility' competition (where it took 1st place), there are a some less restrictive tools that have appeared recently. The latest of which is FamiTracker, a continually improving Windows-based application that's easy to pick up and start writing NES tunes with right away. Beginners will have an easy time finding support from the active community of users over at the 2A03.org forums.

midines.jpgMidines to Impress

If you're more comfortable working with midi than columns of hexadecimal numbers, you might want to go the Midines route. A 'hardware / cartridge interface (game) that enables MIDI control of the 8bit NES sound chip,' from NES super-genius x|k, it certainly has the most potential to break into the mainstream music studio. You can hear it on x|k's own recent release Outra, as well as an appearance on track 3 of the upcoming Venetian Snares album from Planet Mu.

nes_dpcm.jpgHey Hey MCK

Finally, if this all sounds too easy and you'd prefer to get down and dirty in a text editor to write your music, go straight to MCK or one of it's variants. An audio driver for the NES that takes MML (Music Macro Language) as it's input, it has somewhat of a niche appeal. But that hasn't stopped it from being used to great effect by Konami-fetishist RushJet1 or the previously mentioned Japanese fami-pop trio YMCK.

Who could have predicted that the same machines that introduced us to Mario and Zelda would be repurposed so many years later to bring this lo-fi symphony to whole new generation? Now where's my PowerGlove piano?

[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.]