When it comes to making chiptunes, Game Boys are definitely the most favoured source of bleeps and bloops of any other console and I think that their portability, and the awesome, raw sounds they produce are probably why chip musicians love them so much. They also love to modify them with backlights, custom buttons, custom cases and of course ProSound.
There are two very popular pieces of software for the Game Boy that are used for creating chip music, and they go by the names of LSDJ and Nanoloop. They are very different from each other, so you might find yourself favouring one over the other, but luckily there are free demo versions available for both of them which means you can try before you buy. Both LSDJ and Nanoloop can be synced with MIDI sources if you’re in the mood for some DIY.
LSDJ (Little Sound DJ) – Music Tracker
LSDJ (Little Sound DJ) is a music tracker for the Game Boy, created by Johan Kotlinski. It’s a very easy to use and very versatile which is probably why it’s one of the most popular means of chip music production.
This software comes in the form of a ROM image file which you can find on the official LSDJ website.
The demo version is free but it comes without an in-game save function. To get the full version, with the save function, it will cost you about $5, but it’s $5 well spent.
Once you have the ROM file, you can run it in emulators, or if you purchase a blank Game Boy cartridge (I recommend getting one from Kitsch-Bent), you can run it on your Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Advance and Game Boy SP.
Another alternative is to run it on a more modern console with an emulator installed, such as a PSP or Nintendo DS, but your console will more than likely have to be flashed (which is sometimes risky if you do not research properly, please be careful).
The official LSDJ website recommends the following emulators:
Official LSDJ website:
Nanoloop – Music Sequencer
Nanoloop is a music sequencer for the Game Boy, created by Oliver Wittchow. This one is also very popular among chip musicians that produce their music with Game Boys. The interface is a lot different to LSDJ, but it is also pretty easy to get the hang of.
Nanoloop is only available in ROM file format for the free demo version and if you want the full version you will have to purchase a Nanoloop cartridge from the official Nanoloop website, or you can purchase a Nanoloop two (Game Boy Advance cartridge), from Kitsch-Bent.
A Nanoloop one cartridge (original Game Boy cartridge) will cost you about €58, and a Nanoloop two cartridge (Game Boy Advance cartridge) will cost you about $92.80. Keep in mind that an original Game Boy cartridge will fit into all the original 8-bit consoles AND Game Boy Advance and Game Boy SP… but the Game Boy Advance cartridge will also fit into the Game Boy SP and Nintendo DS.
The official Nanoloop website recommends the following emulator:
VBA (PC only).
Note: Nanoloop is also available on Android and iOS.
Official Nanoloop website:
Recording from your Game Boy
Once you’ve produced a piece of music with whatever combination of resources described here so far, this is when you’re going to need a sound recording program, I recommend Audacity.
Whatever method you’ve chosen to produce your piece of music, unless you’ve used an emulator on your actual computer, you’re going to need a male to male cable for your music to be recorded from your weapon of choice and converted to MP3 format.
Audacity team website: