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Not to be confused with the hip hop subgenre, Nerdcore.

Nintendocore (also known as Nintendo rock,[1] video rock,[2] and nerdcore)[3][4] is a music genre that fuses aggressive styles of modern rock with chiptune and video game music. Nintendocore emerged from various styles of hardcore punk and heavy metal, and has been influenced by many other musical genres.

History and notable artists (late 1990s-present)[edit]

An example of instrumental Nintendocore by The Depreciation Guild.

An example of Nintendocore by Horse the Band featuring screamed vocals.

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Although the video game sound movement started much earlier in genres like chiptune and bitpop, the "core" branch movement was initiated by the metalcore group Horse the Band[5] who originally coined the term "Nintendocore" as a joke.[6] They have released five studio albums that demonstrate this style, starting with Secret Rhythm of the Universe, released in 2000.[5][7] "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."[8]

Another Nintendocore pioneer is The Advantage,[9] whom The New York Times praises as one of the groups who brought video game music into the mainstream modern music spotlight.[2] The Advantage is an instrumental rock band formed by two students attending Nevada Union High School.[2] The group "plays nothing but music from the original Nintendo console games."[2] By creating rock cover versions of video game sound tracks, they have "brought legitimacy to a style of music dubbed Nintendocore."[1]

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.[7] The band is from Phoenix, Arizona, and is known as one of the primary representatives of Nintendo rock,[10] performing at various video game expositions.[7] In addition to covers, the band has also produced original work.[7] The Harvard Crimson refers to Minibosses as "sworn rivals" of The NESkimos,[1] another Nintendocore practitioner.[7]

The Depreciation Guild, who disbanded in 2011, were an indie band that incorporated 8-bit sounds, video game music, and elements of shoegaze.[11] The group's debut album In Her Gentle Jaws has been referred to as Nintendocore. Pitchfork Media states that "In Her Gentle Jaws sticks its neck out further than Nintendocore staples like The Advantage or Minibosses."[11] The album's instrumental title track "could plausibly come from an NES cartridge."[11]

Other bands known to represent the genre include Math the Band,[4] Karate High School on its debut album,[12] The Megas,[7] The Octopus Project,[13] An Albatross,[14] Rolo Tomassi,[15] Crystal Castles,[16][17] and The Advantage drummer Spencer Seims' other major band, Hella.[18] Sky Eats Airplane has labeled itself under the genre, though Canadian magazine Exclaim! has disputed this labeling.[19]


Nintendocore frequently features the use of electric guitars, drum kits, and typical rock instrumentation alongside synthesizers,[5] chiptunes, 8-bit sounds, and electronically produced beats.[1][3][20] It originated out of a very diverse range of musical styles, including hardcore punk,[3][5][21] post-hardcore,[20][22] metalcore,[5][22] and heavy metal.[23] In addition to these origins, it has been influenced by a variety of other genres, such as electro,[3] noise rock,[1][24] post-rock,[22][25] and screamo.[3][26]

Nintendocore groups vary stylistically. Some feature singing, such as The Depreciation Guild, whose frontman Kurt Feldman provides "ethereal" and "tender vocals,"[11] and The Megas, who write lyrics that mirror video game storylines.[7] Others add screamed vocals into the mix, such as Horse the Band, who combine metalcore, heavy metal, thrash metal, and post-hardcore with post-rock passages,[3][22][26][27] and Math the Band, who include electro and dance punk styles.[4][28] Other groups, however, are strictly instrumental, such as Minibosses, who use Kyuss-inspired heavy metal riffing,[29] and The Advantage, who are associated with experimental genres such as noise rock and post-rock.[1][25] While otherwise diverse, all Nintendocore groups "use specific instruments to mimic the sounds of Nintendo games."[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Payne, Will B. (2006-02-14). "Nintendo Rock: Nostalgia or Sound of the Future". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  2. ^ a b c d Weingarten, Marc (29 April 2004). "Resurrecting the Riffs, A Nintendo Rock Band". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 March 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Wright (2010-12-09). "Subgenre(s) of the Week: Nintendocore (feat. Holiday Pop)". The Quest. Retrieved 2011-03-21. 
  4. ^ a b c Yun, Elizabeth (4 January 2011). "Math the Band Strive to 'Take Fun Seriously' -- Exclusive Video". AOL. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d e Greer, Nick (2005-01-24). "HORSE the band R. Borlax". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  6. ^ Willschick, Aaron (03-6-2007). "Interview with HORSE The Band bassist Dash Arkenstone". PureGrainAudio. ProtogenLabs. Retrieved 2011-03-14.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Bayer, Jonah (03-05-2009). "Like Video Games? You’ll Love Nintendocore". Gibson Guitar Corporation. Retrieved 2011-03-15.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. ^ Weber, Scott (Site moderator). "Horse the Band - The Mechanical Hand". AbsolutePunk. Retrieved 2011-05-07. 
  9. ^ Hughes, Josiah (August 2008). "Hella guitarist Spencer Seim releases solo album as sBACH". Exclaim!. Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  10. ^ Rene Gutel (August 26, 2004). "The Rise of Nintendo Rock". NPR. KJZZ 91.5. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  11. ^ a b c d Moerder, Adam (Staff member). "The Depreciation Guild - In Her Gentle Jaws". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-05-09. 
  12. ^
  13. ^ Moerder, Adam (25 October 2007). "Album Reviews: The Octopus Project - Hello, Avalanche". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  14. ^ Moerder, Adam (14 July 2006). "Album Review: An Albatross - Blessphemy (of the Peace-Beast Feastgiver and the Bear-Warp Kumite)". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  15. ^ Sean Reid (19 May 2010). "Alter The Press!:Album Review:Rolo Tomassi - Cosmology". Alter The Press!. Retrieved 15 June 2011. 
  16. ^ Jackson, Chris (8 August 2008). "Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 4 May 2011. 
  17. ^ "Crystal Castles". SPIN Magazine (SPIN Media) 23 (12): 26. December 2007. ISSN 0886-3032. 
  18. ^ Moerder, Adam (23 March 2005). "Album Reviews: Hella - Church Gone Wild/Chripin' Hard". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  19. ^ Synyard, Dave (March 2008). "Sky Eats Airplane Everything Perfect On The Wrong Day". Exclaim!. Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  20. ^ a b c Loftus, Johnny. "HORSE the Band". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-03-14. 
  21. ^ Sutherland, Sam (December 2006). "Horse the Band - Pizza EP". Exclaim!. 
  22. ^ a b c d "Horse The Band, Super 8 Bit Brothers, Endless Hallway ,and Oceana". The A. V. Club. The Onion. 8 November 2010. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  23. ^ Turull, Alisha (6 October 2009). "New Releases: Lita Ford, the Fall of Troy, Horse the band, Immortal, Inhale Exhale". Noisecreep. AOL. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  24. ^ Leahey, Andrew. "A Natural Death". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  25. ^ a b Loftus, Johnny. "The Mechanical Hand". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  26. ^ a b Loftus, Johnny. "R. Borlax [Bonus Tracks]". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  27. ^ Synyard, Dave (September 2007). "Horse the Band - A Natural Death". Exclaim!. Retrieved 10 July 2011. 
  28. ^ Trivett, Ben (21 October 2010). "Math the Band Play Blistering Set at CMJ -- Exclusive Photos". AOL. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  29. ^ Borges, Mario Mesquita. "Minibosses". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 10 April 2011.