photo by Luis Quintero
Nostalgia can be a creative tool for creatives, especially as the digital age pushes the boundaries of how art is made. This is especially true for the band SEBii’s collaboration with the production company Hivemind.
The project, called BONErr, released first as a music video on youtube directed by Hivemind. They then crafted a game that could be written to an actual game boy cartridge, playable on authentic game boy consoles.
“We made our own gameboy game and it’s playable,” Hivemind said in a tiktok they made . “Alex designed and built the game from scratch, he even made an 8-bit version of the song for the game’s soundtrack. Throughout the game you encounter characters from the music video, and when you beat the game it unlocks a code that links to a secret ending to the music video.“
The project is emblematic of a DIY attitude. For every bit of Nintendo’s consumerist tendencies, Hivemind made a distinct decision to make the project as homebrewed as possible.
They also took the time on their socials, like TikTok, to explain how they managed the project. Approaches like this allow for others to learn from them while enjoying the work they’ve done.
“The game itself was compiled in a program called GB studio,” Alex from Hivemind said. “It’s very easy to learn and requires no programming knowledge. The graphics are created in a program called acesprite using references from the music video.”
The project wasn’t without its unique challenges, but where they really seemed to creep out of the woodwork was when it came to using the medium that the game boy hardware could provide. Things like colors and sounds become restrictive and freeing, either making decisions for the creative pursuit or pushing to make the desired effect possible.
“We could only use four shades of green but we can change those colors later. Every scene is made up of 8 by 8 pixel tiles,” Alex from Hivemind said. “The game boy hardware only allows for 192 unique tiles in any scene, so you have to reuse tiles as often as possible. I made the soundtrack with a program called milkytracker. The gameboy only has four sound channels so we have to get creative. Two for pulse, one for wave, and one for nose. Each sound is determined by the note, sound, and instrument.”
You can see the full listing for the game on the Hivemind website, but sadly the project is completely sold out. Hivemind plans to make similar projects like this in the future, and if you want to keep up with the outlet, you can do that by following their TikTok and Instagram.
Daniel Johanson (he/him) is a journalist and digital media specialist living in Chicago, Illinois. He serves as Editor-in-Chief at Scapi and in that capacity manages all things content, including writing and editing articles and producing digital content. His most recent work includes the docuseries Heart of a Nation: Tracking Socialism in the Midwest and co-hosting the podcast Scapi Radio. He spends his free time with cats.