Gameboy Camera (DJ Edit)

My next post was originally going to be about the Gameboy DS Lite. I recently bought a Krimson Red model (the previous models actually put me off) along with an R4DS Flashcart so I can load up homebrew roms and my own little experiments. However, I recently found myself taking a quick trip to Gamestop and stumbled upon a used/dusty lower shelf of Gameboy and Gameboy Advance accessories. Immediately my eye hit an old GB Carrying case, which my brother had with his original greybrick way back in the day. At 99 cents I couldnt pass it up…and since it was made for the original GB there was plenty of room to put my GBC, NDS, and all their accessories. That and its all retro and old and clunky.. the irony of it entertains me. When I took the GB Carrying case off the shelf, behind it I saw 2 GB Cameras for sale. The typical red one and a green one. I picked up the red one. Originally thinking only about the lowfi camera fun I could have with it I had completely forgotten about the DJ mode hidden on the cartridge under “Games”. In any case, that was a well spent 2$’s. Now, here’s some details on the GB Camera sequencer/synth/mixer…


Left image from the Gameboy Camera Manual. You can find a copy here:

For a review and description/explanation of it’s features read more…

DJ Mode features:

3 Synths – 1 Bass/lead/synth; 2 Custom Waveform Editor (good for kicks); 3) Noise

4 part loop sequencer, with on the fly reverse direction and stutter control.

Each synth part has a 16 step sequencer with an adjustable Step Length and notes from C-2 thru C-5.

“Sound 1” Parameters:

Duty: 3 Waveform; Env: Up/Down, Gain, Time (release), Gate %; LFO Mod: Depth, Rate, Waveform (Sine, Saw, Random)

“Sound 2” Parameters:

3 Waves, all editable by drawing out a waveform; Env Gain; LFO Mod (same as Sound1)

“Noise” Parameters:

Env: Up/Down/Gain/Time/Gate

Mixing: The first 3 parts are the synths/noise. The 4th part is the ‘scratch’ sound which can be any one of 9 preset sounds. There’s an up sweep, and down sweep, a coin type sound, a hard basskick, a ‘beep’ arppeggio that you advance forward by tapping, and so on. You play the ‘scratch’ sound rhythmically using the A button.  To more or less sum it up, you have 2 synth parts and a drum part. The noise synth section being used for drums. Then you also have an additional big Kick (or one of the other sounds) that you can add using the a/b buttons for manual triggering. Now that you have all that.. you can get into the several different mixing features:

For the main 3 synth sections, you can either turn them on/off independently while mixing, or them in fade in/out.

On the left hand side of your mixing window menu there’s a master tempo control; if you reposition the cursor over it and press Left, the sequencer will change directions (ping pong). Using this it’s possible to do intentional, easily performed retrigs, shuffles, melody variations, and rolls… so as to spice things up a bit. Direct opposite of that, if you move the cursor all the way to the right of the screen and then hold down right while rolling your thumb diagonally upwards and downwards on the directional pad, you can perform pitch bends. Diagonally down for slowing the tempo/pitch and diagonally upwards to increase the tempo/pitch. When you let go the tempo returns to normal.

Anyways, this isn’t really news to anyone already familiar with making music on the Gameboy (or at least it shouldnt be), but I had more or less forgotten all about it. I looked on Ebay and you can get the GB Camera for less than 2 dollars on Ebay, sometimes the seller even includes a Bung Xchanger which was popular for GB Camera users so they could download the images to their computer. The Xchanger is much more useful than that though as you can use it to play homebrews like Nanoloop.


3 Responses to “Gameboy Camera (DJ Edit)”

  1. 1 Alex
    April 15, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Camera DJ

    wayy too much fun in the car,
    have it uploaded in to the computer spin nintendo mash ups and re mixxes till the AM
    just like the ol days

  2. June 14, 2010 at 5:23 am

    This an Good blog post, I will be sure to save this post in my Newsvine account. Have a good day.

  3. August 8, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Wow. I found your page while actually looking for some chiptune synth emulation module for my game boys and hadn’t even realized that I had everything I needed already inside the game boy camera that came with one of my eBay purchases and which I hadn’t paid much attention to yet. I just wish the synth was a module of its own and I didn’t have the large camera sticking out but heck… what a great feature. I also wish, btw, they had integrated it into the GBA MP3 player which is quite poor with features. Anyway: great post!

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