8bit Gameboy Sounds in NI Massive

Many of us grew up loving the video games in the early years of game design and the sounds that they featured, in all their 8-bit glory. Here’s how you do it with Massive!

The 8-bit sound has made a huge comeback in recent years with electronic and dance music, especially in genres like dubstep and house. This is a very good NI Massive video tutorial put together by YouTube user conduitrobotic, showing you not just how to make the basic sound that was so iconic in the Gameboy years, but how to begin tweaking the sounds to fit better into the music styles and production quality of today. He even goes so far as to show you some tips and tricks regarding phasing, stereo spread and getting the sounds sit better in a mix. In the end you get a really good idea of how to bring this kind of 8-bit sound into the music of today for your production efforts.

This style of 8-bit sound design generally begins with some very basic waveforms, and in this case you will see that there are three oscillators being utilized, each with a square wave of some kind being used to generate the main sounds that make up the synth. Detuned from each other, the three generate a chord effect allowing you to do more with less, and it also creates the classic video game sound we are all familiar with from the wonderful early Nintendo era.

This is then run through a highpass filter, which gives it the higher pitch character we want for current music production standards. The Voicing is set up so that the synth is a monophonic instrument running in monorotate mode. Next set the glide parameter to zero on the OSC tab, so you do not have any glide present when switching between notes. The main amp envelope decay level is increased to maximum, while the release level is lowered all the way.

After this everything that is covered is really all about tweaking the sound in different ways to find new ways of using it for modern music production. You can easily take this even further and begin playing with additional filters, inserts and FX to really make this sound your own. In fact, if you end up creating something fun with what you have learn here form this tutorial, let us know. We’d love to hear it!