Imagine an alternative universe in which simple digital handheld games evolved into sophisticated music tools. Oh, and they also made lots of really purty lights flash. Mmmmm … flashing lights.

Well, that alternative universe seems to be right here. Mike Una gave us a massive dump of unusual new DIY sequencers, crafted from the ground up to rework techno into sonic objects. Some are unquestionably indebted to the analog step sequencer, but others take as much from 80s digital toys.

Working with the Meggy, Jr. DIY handheld game platform – with a stunning 8×8 pixel resolution – Darius Kazemi has begun building a music app. He calls it “MeggySynth,” and says he’s conceptualizing it as much a video performance as it is sonic performance. Let the video get at least part of the way in, as the colors really pick up – full RGB LEDs really are a beautiful thing (and something you don’t get from projects like monome).

Our friend and Handmade Music regular, the talented hacker Collin Cunningham, covers this for MAKE:
MAKE: Blog: MeggySynth makes music

Collin rightfully compares this to Tenori-On. Part of what strikes me about Toshio Iwai’s work – not only Tenori-On for Yamaha and ElektroPlankton for Nintendo, but his installation work stretching back to the 90s – is that it often incorporates game aesthetics. Designs are reduced to their elemental interaction and visual representation, which very often includes low-resolution, pixellated grids. (Photo: Julie Delvaux.)

Now, being the greedy person I am, I really want this style of RGB grid, but with other sound sources. But I think there’s a lot of potential, and just as grids of lights can function on roadsigns, there’s no reason even a small number of pixels can’t be expressive. Just ask your local Tamigotchi.

Toshio Iwai evangelizes the beauty of grids for music in Manchester. Photo (CC) Mc-Q.

The best part of simplicity? Darius, designing level editors — in Excel.

Tiny Subversions: My Meggy Level Editor