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.