Nintendocore (also known as Nintendo rock,nerdcore, and video game rock) is a broadly defined music genre that fuses chiptune and video game music with modern hardcore punk and heavy metal and various associated rock music styles. The genre was pioneered by Horse the Band, The Advantage, and Minibosses.
An example of instrumental Nintendocore by The Depreciation Guild.
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Nintendocore frequently features the use of electric guitars, drum kits, and typical rock instrumentation alongside synthesizers,chiptunes, 8-bit sounds, and electronically produced beats. It originated out of a diverse range of musical styles, including various forms of hardcore punk and heavy metal. In addition to these origins, notable Nintendocore bands have been influenced by a variety of other genres, such as post-hardcore,metalcore,electro,noise rock,post-rock, and screamo. Thus, Nintendocore groups vary stylistically. Horse the Band combines metalcore, heavy metal, thrash metal, and post-hardcore with post-rock passages. "The Black Hole" from Horse the Band's third album, The Mechanical Hand, is an example of Nintendocore, featuring screamed vocals, heavy "Nintendo riffs," and "sound effects from numerous games."Math the Band includes electro and dance-punk styles.Minibosses use Kyuss-inspired heavy metal riffing, and The Advantage is associated with styles such as noise rock and post-rock.The Depreciation Guild was an indie band that incorporated 8-bit sounds, video game music, and elements of shoegaze.
Some bands feature singing, such as The Depreciation Guild, whose frontman Kurt Feldman provides "ethereal" and "tender vocals," and The Megas, who write lyrics that mirror video game storylines. Others, such as Horse the Band and Math the Band, add screamed vocals into the mix. But yet other groups are strictly instrumental, such as Minibosses, and The Advantage. While otherwise diverse, all Nintendocore groups "use specific instruments to mimic the sounds of Nintendo games."
Although video game music started much earlier in genres like chiptune and bitpop, the first known rock band to cover a video game song was the all-female indie rock group Autoclave with their cover of the theme song from the popular video game Paperboy off of their self-titled debut 1991 album. The second rock group known to cover a video game song was the band Mr. Bungle, with their live cover of the Super Mario Bros. theme song, which was a regular staple throughout their 1990's live concert setlist. Mr. Bungle also sampled sounds from video games off their debut album from 1991. The term Nintendocore was later initiated by the metalcore group Horse the Band, whose frontman originally coined the term "Nintendocore" as a joke. At present, the group has released five studio albums in the Nintendocore style, starting with 2000's Secret Rhythm of the Universe.
Another Nintendocore pioneer is The Advantage, whom The New York Times praises as one of the groups who brought video game music into the mainstream modern music spotlight. The Advantage is an instrumental rock band formed by two students attending Nevada Union High School. The group "plays nothing but music from the original Nintendo console games." By creating rock cover versions of video game sound tracks, they have "brought legitimacy to a style of music dubbed Nintendocore."
The rock group Minibosses "are one of the most well-established bands in the Nintendocore genre, with an impressive roster of covers including Contra, Double Dragon, Excitebike," and other video game themes. The band is from Phoenix, Arizona, and is known as one of the primary representatives of Nintendo rock, performing at various video game expositions. In addition to covers, the band has also produced original work.The Harvard Crimson refers to Minibosses as "sworn rivals" of The NESkimos, another Nintendocore practitioner. The 2007 debut album by The Depreciation Guild, In Her Gentle Jaws has been referred to as Nintendocore by Pitchfork Media. The website wrote that "In Her Gentle Jaws sticks its neck out further than Nintendocore staples like The Advantage or Minibosses", and that the album's instrumental title track "could plausibly come from an NES cartridge."