Dust Off the Nintendo: You'll Need It to Play This New Album


Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
By Devin Coldewey

It's an age of exclusive album releases: Jack White's "Lazaretto" can only truly be heard on a custom vinyl pressing, there's only one copy of the Wu-Tang Clan's latest, and now, if you want to hear the new album from Japanese electronic artist RIKI, you'll need to slot its cartridge into your Nintendo.

Related: Beyonce, Wu-Tang, U2: Musicians Push Digital Limits to Reach Fans

"8BIT MUSIC POWER" is the name of the album, and it really is only available in cartridge form for Famicom, the Japanese version of the Nintendo Entertainment System. The "chiptune" genre to which it belongs is one that venerates the beepy, buzzy music of retro computers and console games, and its artists often use emulators or other custom software to successfully imitate the distinctive digital instruments of Nintendo, Amiga and Sega machines.

This cartridge doesn't just play music, though — there's a whole 8-bit interface, complete with title screen and big pixelated graphics for the equalizer and album art.

New cartridges are expensive to make, so very few games, let alone albums, are released in that form — though clearly that doesn't stop dedicated creators like Dustin Long, who released a new NES game earlier this year.

Unfortunately for retro fanatics here in the U.S., "8BIT MUSIC POWER" is available only on the Japanese Amazon store (¥4,104, or about $33). We'll keep an eye out for a release this side of the Pacific.