8-bit sound goes above ground

January 19th, 2010 by Felicity Hughes

“Retro” is the ears of the beholder. For some, it extends to the clang and twang of  electric guitars; for others, it’s the primitive chirp of a computer chip: that crazy 8-bit sound. And as every genre has its revival, it would appear that the latest incarnation of retro music is moving above ground, appealing to both older listeners nostalgic for the classic games of their youth and a younger generation embracing the lo-fi spectrum of electronic music.

Case in point: Namco’s Taiko Master Dondon Number Two, released for the Wii on Jan. 14, features the song “Family Don Don,” composed by chiptune whiz kids YMCK. Making music since 2003, YMCK are creating quite a niche for themselves in the game market. Earlier last year the band rearranged 8-bit classics for the Nintendo DS game PiCOPiCT, whose pixellated graphics also hark back to the dawn of the home-computer game.

While YMCK are leading the pack (they were even invited to remix Ayumi Hamasaki last year), other chiptune bands are enjoying moderate success in the burgeoning 8-bit scene. For a sampler, check out Fami Mode at Star Pine’s Cafe in Kichijoji, Tokyo, on Jan. 30.  The largest retro-gamer music event of the year in Japan will feature live performances from bands such as Consumers and Sexy-Synthesizer, in addition to a retro gaming battle and an indoor market selling old cartridge games and other 8-bit merchandise. If you’re fan, grab a Fami Mode ticket today, as they’re sure to go fast.

While Namco and Nintendo provide a satisfying hit of nostalgic fun with their retro style games, for some, it’s no substitute for the real thing. If you’d like to experience Japan’s vintage games then you ought to head down to the 8bit cafe in Shinjuku. The bar, which often has chiptune music on the stereo, has an impressive collection of Famicom and Super Famicom games and titles like Street Fighter II, Mario Kart, Pacman, four-player Bomberman and Puyo Puyo. The popularity of this venue and new retro-style games should prove that pixel power is holding sway with both the old and new generations of gamers.

Tags: , ,

One Response

  1. YMCK blow my mind away. If you are really interested in Japanese chiptune you need to go through and sample all the artists on this page:
    http://www.hearjapan.com/store/genre/1/40/chiptune
    OMODAKA and Saitone in particular are simply amazing! OMODAKA has to be the most unique thing I’ve ever heard. Think the tightest chiptune you’ve ever heard and enka being combined. Sounds like it’s terrible but it is done perfectly and the videos are trippy as hell!

RSS

Recent Posts

  • Ginza Cozy Corner takes dessert into hyperdrive with ‘Star Wars’ cakes

    One Japanese confectionary vendor is about to find the Force deep within a sweet tie-up. Ahead of the December release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Ginza Cozy Corner, which has outlets nationwide, has made a line of “Star Wars” sweets that are truly out of this world. The treats themselves are all based on people […]

  • Warning: This viral video of high school girls might make you blush

    Cosmetic company Shiseido has recently uploaded a YouTube video that is blowing viewers’ minds with a bona fide twist. In the promo video, titled “High School Girl? — The Makeup Secrets of High School Girls,” the camera weaves through a classroom full of drop-dead cute young women who pout and wink like true pop idols. […]

  • Sharp dials up the fan service to celebrate 20 years of ‘Evangelion’

    For those who have always dreamed of owning an Evangelion robot, this might be the closest you get. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the popular “Neon Genesis Evangelion” animated series, Sharp is releasing a special smartphone that pays homage to the show both in the device’s hardware and software. The phone itself is detailed […]

  • Tokyo plugs into Google Play Music

    If you haven’t heard the latest news from Google Play, you may have missed your opportunity to tune into a Google Play Billboard. From Oct. 8-24, music lovers can head over to Shibuya to, literally, plug into a selection of over 3,500 songs. The Google Play Billboard is meant to give visitors a much-needed chance […]

  • J-blip: Ipsa’s Face Melody

    Every face has a name, a story and . . . a song? That’s the idea behind cosmetic company Ipsa’s newest creation. We should, uh, take it at face value, but the company claims that its Face Melody program can measure the user’s appearance and write a unique tune based on their attributes. The application […]

  • Japan celebrates the GIFs that keep on giving

    GIFs — which stands for graphics interchange format, don’t you know — have made the Internet an even more enjoyable place than before, and we have the receipts to prove it. These digital designs were technological wonders back in the days of AOL and Netscape (Google it, kids). But they eventually went from high-tech animation […]

  • Smart absolutions: Send off your sins with just one click

    The two-step method to purification.

  • Attack of the plant hunters, green carnivores and fleshy girls

    Never promised you a rose garden, but how about a fleshy plant or a stag-horn fern?

  • Make 12th-century art using 21st-century tech

    The Choju-Giga, the famed animal caricature ink paintings displayed Kyoto’s Kozan-ji Temple have been captivating people for centuries. The four scrolls, which date to the 12th and 13th centuries and depict rabbits and monkeys getting into mischief, are often cited as the first manga comics in Japan’s history. Now art lovers can create their own […]

  • Fuji Rock bound? Make sure you survive in style

    A few items that will help you stay dry and happy during Fuji Rock Festival’s unpredictable weather.