The appeal of newer music apps for phones, current-generation mobile game systems, and PDAs is portability first. But for the Game Boy music scene, it’s as much about a distinctive sound, and acquiring Game Boys as a kind of unique synthesizer. Our friend and mobile game musician Peter Swimm points us to the new documentary Reformat the Planet. It’s available for a week free on, with screenings to follow. It’s a pretty nice survey of the New York corner of the scene, at least. I’m personally getting increasingly interested in tools like PSPSEQ, which have a distinctive sound all their own — think string modeling rather than vintage game glitches — but that puts this in additional perspective.

Reformat the Planet [available this week only,]

Cinematographer Asid Siddiky writes:

My partners and I have spent the last few years documenting the Chip Music scene in New York. It is a predominantly underground, but vibrant community in which musicians utilize video game hardware (Game Boy, Nintendo, Commodore 64, etc) to create songs of their own. This footage eventually became the feature-length film, “Reformat The Planet.”

While the movie isn’t being officially distributed yet, it has enjoyed some well-received screenings around the world…premiering at the South By Southwest Film Festival earlier this year…playing overseas at the Melbourne International Film Festival…and over the next few months, it will screen at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle and the International Amsterdam Film Festival.

Paul, Paul, and I are honored to have been selected by such prestigious groups and are pleased to announce that Pitchfork, an online publication devoted to the criticism and coverage of independent music that is hated and revered in equal (i think?) measure, has decided to stream Reformat The Planet, for free, for one week. To date, this represents our most widespread and accessible presentation of the film.

The film will be available for viewing from now until the end of the day next Thursday, August 21.

  • very cool documentary!

    that chiptune festival looks badassed!

    now where's my GB?

  • DAYAM! that is the nerdiest thing I've ever seen.

    Like if mathletes decided to have a rave but twice as awkward.

    not that there's anything wrong with that.

  • contakt

    Cool documentary.

    I too am interested in PSP sequence. Think its time to dust off my PSP and load this bad boy. Never tried the whole homebrew thing but this seems like a good reason to start.

  • ALL raves are awkward.

  • I couldn't keep watching after seeing the dancing Tetris piece…

  • That was really fun to watch. Totally would've missed it if you hadn't linked to it. Thanks!

  • Wow, I had no idea Game Boy music was such a big thing! Very great documentary! It shows that a lot of love went into the production of this and it pays off. Also, great idea to have it online for free for a week and sell it afterwards.

  • this just made me cry.

    beautiful documentary.

  • lotsadots

    does anyone know what is being used to generate the large pixelated wall of lights behind the performers?

    (skip to about a 1/4 of the way through chapter 4 if you are not sure what i am referring to)


  • The pixel wall display is from Element Labs, one of the world leaders in event lighting. The specific product is called "Versa Tile"

  • I love it how everyone calls a rave to any electronic music event… not.

  • lotsadots

    answered my own question, it is an LED wall.

    that thing is f'ng sweet.

  • It has been extended another week due to popular demand. Crush their servers!

  • i love this documentary. it got me back into working in nanoloop, too. i hope this ends up on dvd, i'd definitely pick one up.

    by the way- anyone who has the opportunity to go see an 8-bit show live, do it. truly a spectacle to behold.

  • fuerio

    It was a good docu..

    But really one sided and gave no credit to the

    true roots of the music with the demoscene and

    cracktro artists/coders. Any of you interested

    in the hardware/tech aspect of this movie should

    check out BBS: The Documentary. You will def

    enjoy it..