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Nintendocore (also known as Nintendo rock,[2][3] nerdcore,[4][5] and video game rock)[6] is a broadly defined music genre that fuses chiptune and video game music with modern hardcore punk, heavy metal and various associated rock music styles. Nintendocore was started by bands like Horse the Band, An Albatross, The NESkimos and Minibosses.


Nintendocore frequently features the use of electric guitars, drum kits, and typical rock instrumentation alongside synthesizers,[7] chiptunes, 8-bit sounds, and electronically produced beats.[2][4][8] It originated out of a diverse range of musical styles, including various forms of hardcore punk[4][7][9] and heavy metal.[10] In addition to these origins, notable Nintendocore bands have been influenced by a variety of other genres, such as post-hardcore,[8][11] metalcore,[7][11] electro,[4] noise rock,[2][12] post-rock,[11][13] and screamo.[4][14] Thus, Nintendocore groups vary stylistically. Horse the Band combines metalcore, heavy metal, thrash metal, and post-hardcore with post-rock passages.[4][11][14] "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."[15] Math the Band includes electro and dance-punk styles.[16] Minibosses use Kyuss-inspired heavy metal riffing,[17] and The Advantage is associated with styles such as noise rock and post-rock.[18] The Depreciation Guild was an indie band that incorporated 8-bit sounds, video game music, and elements of shoegaze.[19]

Some bands feature singing, such as The Depreciation Guild, whose frontman Kurt Feldman provides "ethereal" and "tender vocals,"[19] and The Megas, who write lyrics that mirror video game storylines.[20] Others, such as Horse the Band and Math the Band, add screamed vocals into the mix.[4][5][11][14][21] But yet other groups are strictly instrumental, such as Minibosses,[17] and The Advantage.[2][13] While otherwise diverse, all Nintendocore groups "use specific instruments to mimic the sounds of Nintendo games."[8]

History (early 1990s–present)[edit]

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 on their self-titled debut 1991 album.[22] 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 1990s’ live concert setlist.[23] Mr. Bungle also sampled sounds from video games on their debut album from 1991.[24] The term Nintendocore was later initiated by the metalcore group Horse the Band,[7] whose frontman originally coined the term "Nintendocore" as a joke.[25] At present, the group has released five studio albums in the Nintendocore style, starting with 2000's Secret Rhythm of the Universe.[7][20]

Nintendo rock pioneers The Advantage performing in Japan in 2010.

Another Nintendocore pioneer is The Advantage,[26] whom The New York Times praises as one of the groups who brought video game music into the mainstream modern music spotlight.[3] The Advantage is an instrumental rock band formed by two students attending Nevada Union High School.[3] The group "plays nothing but music from the original Nintendo console games."[3] By creating rock cover versions of video game sound tracks, they have "brought legitimacy to a style of music dubbed Nintendocore."[2]

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.[20] The band is from Phoenix, Arizona, and is known as one of the primary representatives of Nintendo rock,[27] performing at various video game expositions.[20] In addition to covers, the band has also produced original work.[20] The Harvard Crimson refers to Minibosses as "sworn rivals" of The NESkimos,[2] another Nintendocore practitioner.[20] 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."[19] On July 17, 2016 the genre got broad attention again when the small group of several artists called "N-Core Lives"[1] published a Super Smash Bros. 64 themed compilation album. An article about it was published on the website of Altpress, gaining a lot of attention and bringing Nintendocore back into the minds of many people.[28]

Notable artists[edit]

The Minibosses at Penny Arcade Expo 2005 (now PAX).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Loftus, Johnny. "HORSE the Band | Biography, Albums, Streaming Links | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved November 29, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Payne, Will B. (2006-02-14). "Nintendo Rock: Nostalgia or Sound of the Future". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
  3. ^ a b c d e Weingarten, Marc (29 April 2004). "Resurrecting the Riffs, A Nintendo Rock Band". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 March 2011.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Wright (2010-12-09). "Subgenre(s) of the Week: Nintendocore (feat. Holiday Pop)". The Quest. Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  5. ^ a b c Yun, Elizabeth (4 January 2011). "Math the Band Strive to 'Take Fun Seriously' Exclusive Video". AOL. Archived from the original on 17 November 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  6. ^ Moses, Jeff (2015-06-16). "Minibosses Celebrate 15 Years of Gaming-Centric Music". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved 2017-06-17.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Greer, Nick (2005-01-24). "HORSE the band R. Borlax". Sputnikmusic. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
  8. ^ a b c Loftus, Johnny. "HORSE the Band". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
  9. ^ Sutherland, Sam (December 2006). "Horse the Band - Pizza EP". Exclaim!. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Horse The Band, Super 8 Bit Brothers, Endless Hallway ,and Oceana". The A.V. Club. The Onion. 8 November 2010. Archived from the original on 15 March 2012. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  12. ^ Leahey, Andrew. "A Natural Death". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 8 May 2011.
  13. ^ a b c Loftus, Johnny. "The Mechanical Hand". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  14. ^ a b c d Loftus, Johnny. "R. Borlax [Bonus Tracks]". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  15. ^ a b Weber, Scott (Site moderator). "Horse the Band - The Mechanical Hand". AbsolutePunk. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  16. ^ a b Trivett, Ben (21 October 2010). "Math the Band Play Blistering Set at CMJ -- Exclusive Photos". AOL. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  17. ^ a b c Borges, Mario Mesquita. "Minibosses". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 10 April 2011.
  18. ^ Trivett, Ben (21 October 2010). "Math the Band Play Blistering Set at CMJ -- Exclusive Photos". AOL. Archived from the original on 1 January 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2011.
  19. ^ a b c d Moerder, Adam (Staff member). "The Depreciation Guild - In Her Gentle Jaws". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2011-05-09.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h Bayer, Jonah (2009-03-05). "Like Video Games? You'll Love Nintendocore". Gibson Guitar Corporation. Archived from the original on 2009-05-11. Retrieved 2011-03-15. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  21. ^ Synyard, Dave (September 2007). "Horse the Band - A Natural Death". Exclaim!. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
  22. ^ Autoclave (album)
  23. ^ "Mr. Bungle Frequently Asked Questions". Retrieved 2016-03-27.
  24. ^ Mr. Bungle (album)
  25. ^ a b Willschick, Aaron (2007-06-03). "Interview with HORSE The Band bassist Dash Arkenstone". PureGrainAudio. ProtogenLabs. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
  26. ^ a b c Hughes, Josiah (August 2008). "Hella guitarist Spencer Seim releases solo album as sBACH". Exclaim!. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
  27. ^ a b Rene Gutel (August 26, 2004). "The Rise of Nintendo Rock". Tempe, Arizona. NPR. KJZZ 91.5. Archived from the original on September 3, 2004. Retrieved 10 April 2011. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Missing or empty |series= (help)
  28. ^ "New 8-bit metalcore album revives nintendocore with brutal N64 theme—listen - Alternative Press". Alternative Press. 2016-07-17. Retrieved 2018-10-15.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ "Crystal Castles". SPIN Magazine. SPIN Media. 23 (12): 26. December 2007. ISSN 0886-3032.
  31. ^ Moerder, Adam (23 March 2005). "Album Reviews: Hella - Church Gone Wild/Chripin' Hard". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
  32. ^ Pertola, Petteri (28 May 2009). "Karate High School - Invaders". Retrieved 2 January 2015.
  33. ^ Moerder, Adam (25 October 2007). "Album Reviews: The Octopus Project - Hello, Avalanche". Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
  34. ^ Sean Reid (19 May 2010). "Alter The Press!:Album Review:Rolo Tomassi - Cosmology". Alter The Press!. Retrieved 15 June 2011.
  35. ^ Synyard, Dave (March 2008). "Sky Eats Airplane Everything Perfect On The Wrong Day". Exclaim!. Retrieved 10 July 2011.