Nanoloop – 1.6 / 2.7 / App – GameBoy Music Creation Tools

Borrowed an old GameBoy off of a work colleague specifically for the purpose of plugging in the Nanoloop 1.6 and 2.5 cartridges across the Christmas break. Proper blown away by what I’ve found so far, with the level of depth far exceeding what I’d anticipated.

Only really scratching the surface with both versions, though quickly found the 1.6 redundant in favour of 2.5 cartridge that works exclusively on the GameBoy Advance as opposed to both. With a minimal interface, the four-channel step-sequencer looks daunting on the handheld screen, especially when you’re like your machines big and with lots of unnecessary buttons. Get past the start menu, take a quick look at the instruction manual and it’s all gravy however. 16 steps split in to a 4×4 grid, add a note with ‘A’, remove with ‘B’, hold down to edit pitch.

Two monophonic and one polyphonic synthesiser channels leave the fourth open for noise. the channels save and load individually allowing you to chop across songs and ease in bringing together different ideas in the ‘Song Edit’ screen to loop.

The real fun here is editing in the sequencer matrix. As well as the full envelopes for pitch, filter, volume, LFOs etc. you’ve got an FM synthesiser which can toggle between wave shapes, adjust frequency, pulse width among a host of other features and parameters (including a nice filter arpeggio) that let you bend the sounds live. To be honest there’s just too much quality to go in to in detail, but I’ve got to recommend checking this out.

This is a wicked product, and the good news is that for those without the necessary vintage game equipment there’s iOS and Android apps that are available. I doubt I’ll be composing a masterpiece on it but this is a scarily addictive (and easy) form of music creation that pushes out levels of creativity you’ve probably not touched in time.

Check the proper details on whichever model you want by heading over to the site here, select the version you’re looking at then find the ‘Specs’ click-through:

While you wait to get yours in the post (for those ordering physical) check the video below for a nice run down (if not featured fill example) of the workflow on the original GameBoy version. Underneath that you’ve got a track made on the GameBoy Advance 2.5 cartridge.