Since its unveiling back in late 2015 we’ve been eagerly anticipating the release of 8BIT MUSIC POWER, a brand new chiptune album produced by Famicom homebrew developer Riki Iwasaki, featuring the musical talents of many different chiptune artists and delivered in the form of a Famicom cartridge, allowing you to take in the 8-bit sounds the way they were originally intended to be enjoyed, on original Famicom hardware. The cartridge released at the end of January to overwhelming success, even achieving number 3 on the Amazon Japan bestselling video game pre-order charts prior to its release, which shows that there’s still a keen appreciation for the games of times gone by both in Japan and amongst an international audience.
The bulk of the cartridge’s value comes from the eleven chiptune tracks included. The likes of Prof. Sakamoto, Tappy and Yuriko Keino make up a spectacular lineup of artists, with many of the featured musicians having very impressive past works credited to their name. The quality of the tracks serves as a perfect demonstration of the powerful capabilities of the Famicom’s sound chip when used to its full potential, the catchy tunes featured each sounding unique and understandably reminiscent of the best music of the Famicom era.
The songs are presented in a simple but comprehensive manner, with the option of navigating via either a list or using a more visual music player that allows for some degree of control over the music channels used in each track. Both make the best use of the Famicom’s fairly basic control scheme to allow seamless navigation, although you’re perfectly able to just leave the cartridge running to hear all the tracks, if you plan on making these 8-bit rhythms the literal background music to your day!
Luckily, the cartridge is well-suited to running as a background item or display piece, offering a large range of vibrant, well-animated 8-bit graphics to display on-screen as you listen to the music. These designs can range from pixellated, anime-style girls to detailed shopping mall landscapes or the disgruntled face of an old man, so with such a wide range you’re more than likely to find one that takes your fancy and can serve as a ‘screensaver’ of sorts as you enjoy the musical offerings. A gallery mode is present that allows you to view all of the illustrations separately, and their high quality and magnificent use of the Famicom hardware’s visual effects definitely make them worth looking at.
If simply watching isn’t your thing, 8BIT MUSIC POWER also features two simple games to help pass the time whilst you enjoy the music. The first game, ‘Collect’, sees you navigate a strange atom-like object around the screen, grabbing as many bouncing coins as you can before the time runs out. Alternatively, ‘Dodge’, which makes use of similar controls and format, tasks you with avoiding flying stars in an Asteroids-like manner, requiring that you hold out until a set time limit expires. These two games are hardly Famicom epics, but they make use of some very impressive visual effects, as well as offering a fun little distraction whilst you take in the main part of the title, the audio.
One of the most impressive parts of the whole package was the overall presentation – not only does the game itself look gorgeous, but the exterior packaging and cartridge are well-made and are almost fully authentic to an original Famicom game. The petite Famicom-style box and instruction manual are brilliant for displaying this unique addition to your collection and the artwork featured on the cart and box is a real visual treat. Opening and playing a brand-new cartridge is a surreal and wholly unexpected experience, but a fantastic one none-the-less; chiptune fans, Famicom collectors and appreciators of 8-bit beauty alike should not miss out on the chance to own this unique item!
If you’re interested in picking up this one-of-a-kind chiptune album for yourself, you can import your very own copy from amazon.jp or Play-Asia, or why not check out RIKI’s website where you can find out more information and view the entire track-list!