Mar 25, 2013

Playing Super Mario's RAM Timeline As A Musical Instrument

Chris Novello's insane musical feat involves reverse engineering the original NES title's RAM into a glitch fest using two specific hardware controllers, including one touch surface. Novello explains it much better than I ever could, so here is his breakdown:

Mario’s universe is held in RAM, which the NES uses to draw his world for each frame of the game. By recording the entire state of the NES memory for every frame, I’m able to go back to any moment in Mario’s life. So then I use the X-axis of the Soundplane to sweep through the timeline of Mario’s universe.

Not only that, but the Soundplane is multitouch, so I use a second finger to specify start and endpoints in a playback loop. Technically, this is similar to the way samplers and granular synths work in audio.. but with the entire memory state of the NES. Conceptually, it is like Super Mario meets Groundhog Day. Mario’s universe computer/time machine gets caught in hellish loops.

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