Kickstarter Alert: A Gameboy That Plays Any System You’d Ever Want To Emulate

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I have probably tried almost every possible platform imaginable for Emulation. From PCs in the 90s, to the iPaq, PS2 hacks, things like the GameKing and multi-format consoles. One thing I have always wanted was a one-stop, high-performance handheld that I can take with me.
  
RobotLovesKitty might just deliver it by creating the Game Kid. Powered by the Raspberry Pi’s RetroPie emulation project wwith a 3D printed Gameboy like case that is capable of running NES, SNES, Sega, Playstation 1, Nintendo 64, , x86 PC, Amiga, Sega Genesis, Turbo Grafix 16 and about 20 other formats. Theres a few weeks to go and only the higher tiers are left, so you’ll have to drop a few more bucks for a glow in the dark one, but you don’t want to miss out on this thing! Pledge for yours today, they’re going fast!

 

 

For those not aware, the Raspberry Pi is a full powered computer thats about the size of a credit card. The potential for this thing is amazing, but this is the implementation of it that has most caught my eye.
  
I, for one, am super hyped that it runs the SCUMM emulator. The possibility of playing some classic SCUMM games while I’m on the road just sounds like the greatest thing ever.

 

 

Here’s a full list of what RetroPie can run, so probably the GameKid will be able to play most if not all of these:

 

  • Amiga (UAE4ALL)
  • Apple II (LinApple)
  • Atari 800 (Atari800)
  • Atari 2600 (RetroArch/Stella)
  • Atari ST/STE/TT/Falcon (Hatari)
  • Apple Macintosh (Basilisk II)
  • C64 (VICE)
  • Amstrad CPC (#CPC4Rpi)
  • Final Burn Alpha (RetroArch/PiFBA, RetroArch/FBA)
  • Game Boy (RetroArch/Gambatte)
  • Game Boy Advance (GpSP)
  • Game Boy Color (RetroArch/Gambatte)
  • Sega Game Gear (Osmose)
  • Intellivision (jzIntv)
  • MAME (RetroArch/mame4all-pi, RetroArch/mame4all)
  • MSX (openMSX)
  • PC – x86 (rpix86)
  • NeoGeo (PiFBA, GnGeo)
  • Nintendo Entertainment System (RetroArch/FCEUmm)
  • Nintendo 64 (Mupen64Plus-RPi)
  • TurboGrafx 16 – PC Engine (RetroArch/Mednafen/pce_fast)
  • Ports
    – CaveStory (RetroArch/NXEngine)
    – Doom (RetroArch/PrBoom)
    – Duke Nukem 3D (eDuke)
  • ScummVM
  • Sega Master System / Mark III (RetroArch/Picodrive, Osmose, DGen)
  • Sega Mega Drive / Genesis (RetroArch/Picodrive, DGen)
  • Sega Mega-CD / CD (RetroArch/Picodrive, DGen)
  • Sega 32X (RetroArch/Picodrive, DGen)
  • Playstation 1 (RetroArch/PCSX ReARMed)
  • Super Nintendo Entertainment System (RetroArch/Pocket SNES, snes9x-rpi)
  • Sinclair ZX Spectrum (Fuse, FBZX)

 

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Is Nintendo Planning to Release a Tablet with Gameboy Emulator?

gbNintendo recently filed for a patent for an emulator for the Gameboy, Gameboy Color and Gameboy Advance. What does that mean exactly? Well, it’s no secret emulators exist in an unofficial capacity. But officially, Nintendo has never made their products available outside of their official platforms and devices. This, coupled with a recent slew of unofficial tweets about a possible Nintendo tablet makes us wonder if we’ll be popping open classic games on a tablet or an un-jailbroken phone in the future.

Nintendo is not the only company to realize their legacy products are still getting heavy use. Most of the classic SquareSoft RPGs are already available on the iOS as well as some classic Sega games (Sonic CD plays great on an iPhone). It’s still all rumors at this point, but it would stand to reason that Nintendo wants to make the most out of something most of us are already doing without their consent or help; playing our favorite games through an emulator.

Tutorial: Emulating the SNES Sound In Your Favorite DAWS

The SNES Definitely has its share of memorable songs...

The SNES Definitely has its share of memorable songs…

The SNES definitely has a lot of memorable tunes. Amazing compositions in games like Legend of Zelda,  Secret of Mana, Donkey Kong Country, Final Fantasy 6, Chrono Trigger and many others have left 16-bit tunes running through our heads for years. This is where video game music started to take a turn toward the epic orchestral sounds we’re so used to today. However, you might have noticed that a lot more people are making NES, Genesis and Gameboy chiptunes and not SNES tunes. Why?

Well, the overall quality of SNES music isn’t really that great. It’s all samples. Many people will say it’s hardly any better than your standard MIDI. It is true that it doesn’t have as much character as 8-bit synths. However, there is some charm to be found in these degraded 16-bit samples of strings, flutes and guitars. I mean, the amazing, lush songs on some of the SNES’ RPGs just couldnt happen on the NES or Gameboy. I really love the snappy compressed drums in Secret of Mana too. Today, we’ll look at how to get these samples loaded up in your DAWs and also emulate the SNES’ classic reverb with a basic tape delay controller.

Loading The Samples

Every game had its own set of musical instrument samples unique to what the game needed. Most games have one sample per “instrument” that just gets pitch-bent up or down to match the key of the note being played. There are also some games that have a ‘kit’, which has a unique sample for each note on the piano roll.

Some of the best sets of instruments come from games with orchestral soundtracks like Final Fantasy 6 and Chrono Trigger. Fortunately, since your basic sampler that comes with every DAWS has this kind of functionality, you can get SNES samples in SoundFont format and load them up in no time.

You can download the SF2 files for some of the most popular games here from William Kage’s site. Zelda, Chrono Trigger and FF6 have some of the most memorable SNES sounds. I’m hoping he’ll finish his Metroid SF2 soon too!

Every DAWS has different ways to load SF2 files. So you’re on your own for that, but just Google it and you’ll figure it out quickly. If your DAWS doesn’t have a default player that handles SF2’s download this great little VST called sfz.

Obeying The Rules of the SNES Sound Chip

The SNES sound chip can do most things that a standard MIDI can do. You can change the Attack, Sustain, Decay, Release, Stereo Panning, Pitch bending and automating these things.

The SNES could also only play 8 notes at once. They can be chords of the same instrument (composed of the sample playing several times) or 8 individual instruments. Of course, your DAWS is not going to stop you from playing 100 notes at once, so you kind of have to impose these rules on yourself if you want it to sound authentic. There is also one special effect which sets the SNES apart, it’s distinctive reverb.

The FIR Filter aka SNES Reverb

One of the most recognizable things about the SNES is its huge use of an echoing effect that is usually just called “SNES Reverb”. Technically, it’s done with a FIR Filter which is sort of like a echo effect that has a filter cutting it off as it echoes.

For those of you using VSTs, you can use this handy little VST effect to emulate the sound. It’s not perfect but it comes pretty close. For those using Logic Pro (no VSTs), you can use the tape delay to come up with the same kind of sound. See the video for an example of how modify the default settings of the Tape Delay effect that comes with Logic Pro to emulate the FIR filter.

The Most Baffling Video Game Songs of All Time

Designing a video game requires hundreds of tiny creative and technical decisions that all amount to a finished product. You might think music was a no-brainer in the early days, with limited sound chips and minimal memory, but from the beginning their have been some totally baffling video game songs that make you wonder what the developer or composer were thinking. Here’s a few of those confusing moments that you may or may not have heard before. You might be surprised at how enjoyable some of these pieces are, they just don’t fit in their respective games.

Metroid – Norfair

Metroid has one of the best NES soundtracks out there. It’s memorable, heroic and creepy in all the right places..except for this one. Don’t get me wrong, I think this is a lovely piece of music. In fact I listen to it regularly, but after all this time and so many listens, I have no idea how this song makes me feel! Is it supposed to be scary? Relaxing? I find it rather relaxing until those weird unsettling pauses occur. It sort of makes me picture a lifeless puppet dangling in the wind. Wierdly, it reminds me of a 90’s math-rock/emo band called Ethel Meserve.

Metroid II: Return of Samus – Ancient Chozo Ruins

I love the surface music in RoS but this song is like the theme song for a dopey, indecisive super hero..it’s like the perfect musical expression of an awkward moment that goes on too long, oh but then gets really dangerous and intense…someone wrote on youtube that it’s like something stalking you…I sorta get that, but not the first part of it, which just sounds like a game over jingle. Someone else wrote “This is simultaneously the best and worst song in Gameboy history.” That’s what I mean but baffling!

Magmax – Stage Theme Subterrain

I can barely even write a comment on this one. Here’s the weird part: It sounds kind of good when you slow it down by about 50%. I’m wondering if somebody accidently bumped the tempo up when compiling the code and sent this song into overdrive.

Donkey Kong Country – Jungle Groove

DKC has some of my favorite music for the SNES. Super catchy and appropriate for every level. Jungle Groove is two really great songs in one. The problem is the way they’re juxtaposed together in such a weird way. Could they not decide if they wanted the game to start off somber and epic or silly and fun? Either one would have been great, but why slam them together like this?

Harvest Moon – Town Music

Harvest Moon on the SNES has great music and the town theme is really nice. For such a high quality game, you have to wonder why there seem to be a couple of off notes about 43 seconds into the song. Maybe they were going for a bluesy chord, but it just sounds like someone fat-fingered their keyboard.

Treasure Master – Worlds 3 & 5

Treasure master actually has really good music. And what happens in this song is probably a great showcase of just how powerful the NES sound chip is. But why crossfade in the middle of a song into a completely unrelated song. Just to show that you can make a crossfade on the NES? This is not a cross-faded video, it actually does that on the NES.

EarthBound – The Place (and others)

Testing…is this synth on? Seriously, this sounds like a keyboard sound check. Earthbound has tons of awesome music and probably more songs than any other SNES game out there. But, I guess the composers started to get a little lazy on a few of the songs after making so many killer tunes. The Place, The Cliff that Time Forgot and Mu Training are two others that are so quiet and sparse that they creep you out.

Klonoa 2 – Mad Biscarsh

This plays during a chase scene in the game where a big robot chases you. This is not a bad song, but it is, to my knowledge, the only video game song I’ve ever heard that seems to be trying to imitate the hardcore genre. I keep expecting a hoarse screamed vocals about overthrowing the government to start bust into this track. Judging by the comments on the video, I was not the only one traumatized by this intensity level!