8-Bit Weapon is the newest release by 8-Bit Weapon and RVG are very excited to get our hands on it. Their last album ‘Class Apples’ (2017) broke new barriers as it was the first album ever to contain music produced directly from an Apple II motherboard in its entirety, featuring covers of classical composers from Bach to Mozart.
So, what have they done this time?
As illustrated in the album artwork, it’s the Gameboy sound chip which is their weapon of choice on this outing, stretching that little handheld to its limits and producing some great tunes. The album has been a work in progress since 2015 and the hard work has certainly paid off. Album opener ‘Dungeon Crawler Brawler’ kicks things off at full throttle – opening with a slow build up and then treating you to some intense beats as it bounces around the place making full use of the humble Gameboy’s sound. Being a relative newbie to all things Gameboy (I know! Where have I been, right?) I was never aware of how good it can actually sound. Whilst this album is helped out a little by the Commodore 64’s SID chip which was used for the bass elements and other various sounds, what we have here is 99% Gameboy, and ‘boy’ is it good!
A big sway in direction from their previous effort, 8-Bit Weapon goes back to the duo’s usual original compositions, incoporating the retro 8-bit sound with pumping bass and hard hitting drums. It’s a combination that works so well and a job done brilliantly by the veterans of the genre. I’m not one for dancing usually, but I couldn’t help my feet from tapping after a couple of minutes and not too much later, I was up and strutting John Travolta style. I hope no one noticed.
Highlights for me are the opener ‘Dungeon Crawler Brawler’ mentioned earlier, and the more relaxing though equally brilliant ‘End’s Well that All’s Well’ (which is easier to type than to say), which get you pumped up and then relaxed in equal measure. Just hearing the 8-bit sounds really take you back to your gaming glory years and some of the sounds you swear you’ve heard at some point before in your gaming life. I swear I heard a few bars from Kwik Snax in here somewhere, but being a US based outfit, I’m sure this was just coincidence and down to the fact that the Gameboy and Spectrum have a very similar sound chip, if not the same. Need to look that up.
Personally, I’m a massive fan of the 8-bit sound and some game themes of this era are some of the greatest created; many as powerful as film scores and provide a soundtrack to many people’s youth. With this in mind, this album was always going to be winner but the sheer craft shown here just adds to its appeal. Though only containing seven tracks, two of which are remixes of other tracks on the album, I would say I was expecting it to last a little longer but that’s what the repeat button is for, surely?
So, hook this up to your car (it’s certainly easier than connecting your Gameboy to your speakers) put the windows down and crank it all the way up – what we have here is the soundtrack to your 2018 8-bit summer.
Hook this up to your car (it’s certainly easier than connecting your Gameboy to your speakers) put the windows down and crank it all the way up – what we have here is the soundtrack to your 2018 8-bit summer.
ZX Spectrum enthusiast. Crash, Zzap64 and Amtix magazine writer – I also have a book called Florin’s Haul of ZX Spectrum Games available from Fusion Retro Books.