Chip Music

Handheld Hero Strikes: GAME BOY ROCK!! Review

November 6, 2009 | | Comment? Share thison Facebook Handheld Hero Strikes: GAME BOY ROCK!! Reviewon Twitter

Saskrotch, one of the chiptune artists I truly enjoy listening to, and who recently appeared on the official Chiptuned Rockman arrange album, created an Internet label last year dedicated to releasing chiptune albums called “Handheld Heroes.” Since May 2008, they have been trickling out releases, slowly but steadily, of every size and style; and even though their approach visually is simplistic with the use of MySpace as an outlet, don’t let that fool you. The music is anything but simplistic. Their latest release came this October, and it is by California’s pride and joy, Wizwars. Actually I think most people who know him wouldn’t admit it.

Jokes aside, Wizwars has climbed the ladder over the last year, gaining more and more recognition with his awesome dance chiptunes, and also the chiptune/live instrument combo “Fly Away” which was a fan favorite earlier this year. He’s now here with GAME BOY ROCK!! on Handheld Heroes, which has received huge download numbers and universal praise from the chiptune community.

But will OSV echo that praise? Maybe we’ll hate it and absolutely trash it to pieces, or maybe even judge it purely on Wiz’s size, cause the man does love his bacon. Find out in our review of Game Boy Rock!!.

Well, of course we won’t make fun of Wizwars, we love him here at OSV. Game Boy Rock!! is a 5-track album made entirely on the Game Boy. The way this was achieved was by using a tracking software tool on the Game Boy itself which goes by the name of Little Sound DJ. LSDJ allows you to use the Game Boy as a sequencer and use the sound chip and hardware as your work station, and create authentic Game Boy music all on your own. That’s how this album, and many others like it, are put together. All that was done after recording these songs was volume tuning, but otherwise, what you hear is all done on the Game Boy itself, no emulator, just the real deal.

The album starts out with the title track, “Game Boy Rock!!,” and is a really good dance track that is sure to get you in the mood to move. The opening seconds of the track feature the Game Boy start-up sound which is a really nice touch, and has a really nice feel to it, perfectly paced. “Cosmic Waveform” starts out on a slower note than the first track, and is also the longest song at nearly 6 minutes. This song is quite a musical journey and manages to stay interesting every single second, and “Intergalactic Disko Dance Party” keeps the energy going with a good funky vibe that is perfect dance material. A title like “8-Bit Raceway” couldn’t be any more appropriate, as this is a song that goes 200mph (I wonder what that is in bpm?) and never stops. The last track, “Right Back To You” might come as a surprise because after “8-Bit Raceway” gets your blood flowing and heart pumping, this track is a slow pop song with a much softer sound texture. I guess you could call it a love song since I assume (based on the title and emotional nature of the music) that it’s dedicated to me as an expression of Wizwars’ feelings for me. There’s no other conclusion.

While all the tracks are good, two stand out as fantastic, those being “Cosmic Waveform” and “Right Back To You.” “Cosmic Waveform” is so rich in melody, and being such a long song, it also keeps you hanging on as it constantly evolves. The end section reminds me a bit of Last Ninja on Commodore 64. Yes, I know it’s the wrong system, but the structure and composition is quite similar. “Right Back To You” is great as it is something completely different, yet doesn’t feel out of place. As mentioned, there is just something so soft about this track, which is kinda unusual for chiptunes which are often aimed at getting you excited and moving.  This is more likely to make you sit back and reflect.

Game Boy Rock!! is a solid showing from a relatively new name on the scene. All 5 tracks deliver, and they’re bound to make you groove on the floor. You’ll find shades of Bit Shifter in some of the compositions, which isn’t exactly the worst inspiration you could have at all.

Get it at Handheld Heroes. You won’t be disappointed. And if you are disappointed, it’s free, so quit complaining.

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