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video game musicChiptune is a fairly broad term used to describe music that has been programmed to play on old, often 8bit sound chips from days of yore. The term can also refer to modern examples of video game music, with artists like Anamanaguchi rocketing to fame complete with Game Boys Visual Boy Advance - A Game Boy Advance Emulator For Multiple Platforms [Windows, Mac & Linux] Visual Boy Advance - A Game Boy Advance Emulator For Multiple Platforms [Windows, Mac & Linux] Nintendo’s Game Boy tore up the market and proved its worth as a successor to the popular Game and Watch handheld upon initial release in 1989. The numbers are impressive - the original console, Game... Read More in hand.

Much like MIDI files, chiptune tracks are often just sets of instructions that tell the chip what to do and when to do it. Purists will always tell you to listen to the track on original hardware, though it’s unlikely everyone has a Commodore 64 7 Great Cross-Platform Emulators For 5 Classic Computer Platforms 7 Great Cross-Platform Emulators For 5 Classic Computer Platforms In the same vein as the recent flurry of console emulation articles, today we're focusing on classic computer platforms of decades gone by. Whilst there were quite a few, we've chosen 5 of the most... Read More or Amiga 1200 just lying around (guilty parties, raise your hands).

Here are some of the very best tools, resources and other websites to immerse yourself in the bleep-boop world of chiptune.

Chips ‘n’ Dip

In order to enjoy the unbelievable amount of chiptune music that has made it onto the world wide web over the years you’ll either be needing the original hardware and programs required for playback (for the seriously dedicated) or some emulation software to do the job for you.

Many mainstream media players such as iTunes and Windows Media Player are not suitable for chiptune files as there are many exotic filetypes associated with this kind of music. XMPlay is probably one of the finest examples for Windows users, and even users running Linux should have some success using Wine Run Windows Applications on Linux (or Mac) with WINE Run Windows Applications on Linux (or Mac) with WINE Read More .

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It supports a large number of formats including various chiptune filetypes, and more plugins (for greater compatibility) and skins are available at Un4seen Developments. Users who fancy an alternative can also turn to Chipamp which is a chiptune plugin pack for Winamp, again suitable for Windows users.

Mac OS X and Linux (also Windows) users will have some success with Audio Overload, a tool designed specifically to emulate vintage sound chips from old computers. Whilst it doesn’t play everything it certainly covers a lot of the bases. If you’re interested in playing music from old arcade ROMs How To Play Old Arcade Games On Your PC How To Play Old Arcade Games On Your PC Read More then the same author has produced a tool for the job called M1. For that all-important .XM file support on Mac or UNIX based systems then MikMod does the job too.

The Music

Some of the songs featured on the websites below are in MP3 or streamable Flash form, so even if you don’t fancy grabbing specialist software you’ll at least be able to enjoy a few bleeps and boops!

Chiptune.com

video game music

Not only is Chiptune.com one of the greatest resources for all manner of retro sounds, but the website has been designed to imitate Workbench, the original AmigaOS. The result is a faithful and nostalgic interface that boots and behaves like a real Amiga.

The music is stored within the Chipbench 1.3 folder, and by far the most efficient way of browsing or downloading whole collections is via the FTP link (unless you’re a fan of closing a lot of windows all of the time).

Even if you don’t download anything this website is worth a poke around for old time’s sake.

8bitcollective

 free video game music

Who said chiptune was dead? Not me, for I have seen 8bitcollective – a site dedicated to creating, discussing and sharing electronic noises. The music provided on this site appears to be MP3 only, so you can stream each song before deciding whether you want the free download or not.

It may disappoint some that original filetypes are not available, though don’t despair – there’s a lot of music available and all of it is completely free. I’d hazard a guess that much of the music found on 8bitcollective is fairly recent, though that’s not to say retro equipment or samples haven’t been used.

8bitpeoples

 free video game music

This collective formed in 1999 through their shared passion for video game music and an urge to bring chiptune to the masses, for free. The discography page is where the treasure can be found and features music from various artists still producing this type of music today.

The website is regularly updated with news and new material, so check it out for 8bit happenings where you are in the world. The group are responsible for gigs and events around the globe and are currently preparing for the Australian Blip Festival in February 2012.

The MOD Archive – Chiptune

free video game music

Nearly 2,000 separate entries make up this rather untidy list of chiptune downloads that mostly come in .XM format. There are also thousands of other files that make up The MOD Archive’s swelling archive of downloadable music, so check it out and see what you can find.

One thing that’s particularly nice about this site is that each download page offers up suggested software for listening to your chosen tune.

chiptunes.back2roots.org

 video game music

Another fairly old website that features thousands of files to peruse and download. Alternatively you can simply download the lot in a click (the entire MOD archive comes in at 76.5MB, with an additional 5.5MB of Adlib files and 6.3MB of the YM variety).

Other Resources

The following sites aren’t repositories of files or chiptune-dedicated sites but might aid you in your search for warm fuzzy noises.

Kohina (Radio)

Kohina is a simple radio station that serves up retro video game music 24/7. Prepare to play spot-the-tune as you encounter genuine sounds from some very old games!

Digitally Imported – Chiptunes (Radio)

Digitally Imported, or DI.fm as it is more commonly known, is easily one of the best online radio services on the web. Now you can chiptune whenever you want, simply by tuning in to their “Chiptunes” radio station. If you really love the service you can go premium for higher bitrates.

SoundCloud – tags/chiptune

SoundCloud is a fantastic resource for streaming video game music from a wealth of devices. Why not stumble around the chiptune tag to see if there’s anyone worth following?

Conclusion

There are literally thousands of files here for your perusal – some tagged, some just arbitrary strings of numbers and letters, so I’m not exaggerating when I say if you like chiptune you’ve struck gold with these websites. If you do discover any awesome tunes then don’t hesitate in sharing them with us, below.

Do you like chiptune? Any favourite websites? Any favourite artists or songs? Have an 8bit party in the comments!

  1. Jamie Ramone
    September 7, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    And the link to 8bitcollective is where exactly?

  2. @DanoSongs
    January 17, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    I recently got asked to compose a chip tune piece for a video game developer. I have no sound chips or emulators so I will likely use a Sony Acid Loop library called 
    “8 Bit Weapon: A Chiptune Odyssey”. Dan-O (
    http://www.graycraft92.com/chiptunes-8-bit-chip-music/ )

  3. GeekLad
    December 10, 2011 at 8:03 am

    Back in the day (late 80s/early 90s), I used to simply refer to them as MODs.  Purple Motion (Jonne Valtonen) of the demo group Future Crew was one of my favorite artists.  Tim, you should do a post about running old-school DOS demos on your PC.  :-D

    • Tim Brookes
      January 25, 2012 at 1:01 am

      Just noticed this comment, it's almost as if you read my mind - I will be doing an article about the demo scene, specifically the DOS demo scene in the near future. I've found a bounty of weird and wonderful executables, so keep your eyes peeled.

      Tim

      • GeekLad
        January 26, 2012 at 10:01 pm

        Sweet, I look forward to seeing it! :-D

  4. Michael Lockhart
    December 8, 2011 at 3:20 am

    Great sites -- especially love chiptune.com

    Chiptune cConnoisseurs probably are already familiar with the demo scene from the late 1980s and 1990s.  There's an archive for Amiga/C64/PC demos that's been maintained on the Web since 1999 at scene.org.

     You'll find the music (mainly MOD files of various flavours, all should be playable with MikMod or chipamp) under http://scene.org/dir.php?dir=%2Fmusic/

      This collection includes the greats like Purple Motion from FutureCrew, just to name one (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_motion).

    • Tim Brookes
      January 25, 2012 at 1:02 am

      Thanks for those extra links, the more 8bit the better!

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