Impact Soundworks has introduced Super Audio Boy, a free NI Kontakt library featuring the sounds of the Nintendo Game Boy portable console.
Super Audio Boy is based on the same custom Kontakt sound engine that was used for the premium Super Audio Cart ($149) sample library by Impact Soundworks. It allows the user to layer four different sounds and control their pitch, pan, and filter cutoff parameters right from the front panel, as well as adjust advanced parameters like the pitch, filter, and amp envelopes, sample offset, and more in the layer editor. The instrument also features a handy XY pad for morphing between the four layers, separate arpeggiators for each layer, a modulation matrix, and a collection of six built-in effects.
One of the six built-in effects called SNESverb is particularly interesting, as it emulates the lo-fi reverb that was used in the popular NES gaming console. Impact Soundworks are also offering it as a standalone effect on their website ($20). The effect has a lovely, grainy vibe and it’s really cool to see it included in the free Super Audio Boy library. Another great feature I’d like to highlight is the excellent arpeggiator which, in addition to features like like swing and adjustable step length, allows the user to play a different waveform on each step, which is something we rarely see as an option in chiptune-oriented virtual instruments (even though it’s one of the fundamental chiptune sound design techniques).
Each of the four layers can load a different set of multi-samples (21 included in total). These cover basic wavoforms that were sampled directly from the Gameboy (pulse, saw, triangle, noise), as well as a collection of drum hits and percussive sounds. I believe that most of the sounds were creating using the LSDJ cartridge, as that’s the software I used when creating the free Game Boy Drum Kit sample pack which you can download right here on BPB. The included sample content sound good and it complements the excellent sound engine.
Overall, Super Audio Boy is an interesting library for musicians who want to add some Gameboy sounds to their music, or indie game developers who want to create authentic sounding soundtracks for their games. You can use it as a simple tool for playing some basic chiptune sounds, or go crazy with the arpeggiator and build a variety of glitchy sound effects, C64-style kick sounds, and complex arpeggios. I think it’s safe to say that Super Audio Boy is the closest you can get to using the Gameboy as a musical tool in virtual form for free. The instrument is completely free to download from the Impact Soundworks website, but keep in mind that you’ll need the full version of Native Instruments Kontakt in order to use the library without the 15-minute time limit.
Super Audio Boy is available for free download via Impact Soundworks (52.1 MB download size, ZIP archive, contains 1 instrument in NKI format for NI Kontakt).