I always knew there was a good reason why I should keep my old GameBoy. Of course, Pokémon was addictive, but the best games of that era have actually continued on newer consoles. However, a Kickstarter project named ChipCodes is putting the old handheld consoles to good use — the idea is to turn your old Nintendo machine into a musical instrument.
The ChipCodes, which debuted at this year’s Moogfest, are actually specially programmed cartridges, which provide an input for any MIDI controller you wish to plug in, although the full kit includes a self-assembled acrylic bass guitar that would look at home in the hands of Daft Punk. You can then doodle away, effectively using the GameBoy’s audio capabilities as a retro, beepy synthesizer.
In time, it seems likely that more instruments might join the ChipCodes kit, but anyone with an interest in music probably owns a MIDI instrument already. The obvious thing to do immediately is to replicate the Mario Bros. theme tune, but I can imagine plenty of other brilliant retro sounds arriving in SoundCloud tracks shortly.
A pledge of $50 gets you a hand-decorated ChipCodes cartridge, while the full kit costs a pledge of $100, and a fully assembled instrument costs from $500. Check out the project page for more.