The Pianocade May Just Be Music to a Nostalgic Gamer’s Ears

When I look back at the 8 bit era of video games, the thing that impresses me most is the music quality. Think of classic themes like those in Mario, Zelda, and DuckTales, and marvel at how such a new concept like full video game music could have produced so many classics on a sound system that was as bare bones as can be. Even as modern games now come with sweeping full sound orchestras accompanying them, some still prefer 8 bit music as a medium, and not just view it as another wing in the nostalgia museum.

The makers of the Pianocade, also recognize the technological brilliance of the 8 bit era of melody and have engineered an equally brilliant device to help people replicate it. Underneath the minimalist arcade board design lies a pretty complex keyboard system meant to product an exact replication of the 8 bit music style. The Pianocade boasts a full range MIDI system and open source capabilities that allows for an immense level of user customization and sharing options. The built in synthesizer also produces an impressive level of sound quality with a 128 note sound range, and full tempo control. Now if you’re as musically inept as I am (I believe the technical term is “Tone Deaf”) then you don’t really need to follow all of the specs, and instead just need to check out the video of this thing in action.

Currently the Pianocade is only available for pre-order, and retails for $250CDN ($253 US) for a one octave model, or $325CDN ($329US) for the two octave version. Even better is the newly announced optional strap that allows for conversion of the unit into a keytar. The preorder period is estimated to be over on September 14th, at which time the first units will begin shipping out.

Obviously if you want to recreate 8 bit music there is a wide variety of digital options available (hell, it was digital to begin with). But since the goal of this project is to recreate the arcade experience of a room filling with a variety of video game music for all to enjoy, if you have the skill and the means this could make for one interesting party piece, conversation starter, or even a legitimate addition to your recording studio, as if you have the need, this device certainly has the capabilities.