Lately I have been wanting to try my hand at Little Sound DJ, a native GameBoy tracker to see if it might make a worth addition to our arsenal of chiptune hardware. Quite a few chiptune musicians seem to use it and it has a few differences from the NES in terms of sound.

Early this week I ended up getting enough parts in the mail to start playing around with things and ended up making a neat little song that uses both the GameBoy and NES (actually FamiTracker since I was sort of lazy and haven’t yet exported the sound out to the PowerPak to record it properly):

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The song is really just an idea, but it already has a name: "The Genesis Machine." No idea if this will end up being on Chipsurf Pipeline or not but it is a neat little track just the same. You can definitely hear the differences in the audio produced by the GameBoy versus the Nintendo. In fact, I tried making the song using the MMC5 NES mapper for the extra square channels and it didn’t sound at all the same.

This song was a good test to see how involved using both the NES and GameBoy would be. Right now, they are not synced to each other at all, so I cannot hear both parts of the song at the same time without first exporting them out to Live. It makes things a bit more challenging but also more inward – I have to think of the song more in my head before putting it down and, in a way, that is a benefit. I do plan on building the ArdunoBoy so that I can sync the GameBoy via MIDI. I have tried doing that before in FamiTracker and didn’t have much luck. Though a solution to that problem is to get a MidiNES, I tend to prefer the workflow of FamiTracker. I could simply control MidiNES using Renoise if I wanted to keep a tracker-style interface but all the tracks we have composed for Chipsurf Pipeline use FamiTracker. Really, my problem is solved if FamiTracker had more sync options, or even rewire. Then I could compose everything at once and simply have to output the results to an NSF file and dump it on the PowerPak for a final recording run.

In any case, the GameBoy is indeed a worthy addition to my arsenal. Turns out my particular GameBoy is one of the first runs and has issues with the wave/digital output. So I haven’t been able to use what is arguably the coolest feature of using the GameBoy but I have another GameBoy I just purchased off eBay that should work nicely. After that, it’s modding time!