Retro consoles spawn modern music

With every new generation of über-sexy, high-powered gaming consoles, another wave of outdated machines are inducted into the videogame hardware hall of fame – a graveyard of wires and small cartridges destined to gather dust on the top shelf of countless closets. It’s a grim fate for these once-beloved devices. But some old-school game consoles are being resurrected from the dead by the power of rock.

Above: 8-bit musician Nullsleep (aka Jeremiah Johnson) performs onstage

Not content to let classic gaming gear from decades past go to waste, a tech-savvy array of underground musicians are digging out their retro consoles, dusting them off, and firing them up for a new purpose: to rock the living hell out of them. We’ve rounded up a tasty sampling of bands and artists who work their dark magic on once-deceased gaming hardware to blast your eardrums into a state of blippy bliss.


This quartet of young, 8-bit punk rockers unleashes a guitar-driven assault of turbocharged instrumental pop with the support of a hacked NES console. With a high-octane sound that’s influenced as much by the indie music scene as it is by 80s videogame culture, Anamanaguchi’s melodic punk/chiptune hybrid riffs are super energetic and contagiously catchy.

Above: The art for Anamanaguchi’s first album (download link below)

The band writes its rhythms and 8-bit melodies using the Nerdtracker II program, and arranges layered guitar, bass, and drum parts over them. The basic chiptune tracks are then burned to a ROM chip, plopped into a modded cartridge, and played through the NES onstage while the band members shred along on their various instruments. Having successfully embarked on tours in the U.S. and the U.K. in the few years they’ve been around, the group keeps gigging relentlessly and will return to play the 2009 Penny Arcade Expo this fall.

Above: Anamanaguchi’s fifth member

Above: The video for Helix Nebula, also known as the TalkRadartheme song