SocaLabs has announced the release of PAPU, a freeware emulation of Nintendo Gameboy handheld console’s audio hardware.
PAPU emulates the Game Boy Sound System (or GBS) of the original Gameboy, with its two square channels and one noise channel. The 4-bit wave channel found in the hardware sound chip isn’t included in the emulation. The plugin also features a real-time waveform display and a simple patch manager for user-made presets (the current version of PAPU doesn’t come with factory presets).
The user interface looks clean and quite rudimentary, if not a bit rough around the edges. The controls are laid out in three rows (one per channel) with left/right stereo switches for each source. All three channels feature simple A/R envelopes, whereas the two square channels come with pulse width, pitch, and fine tune controls. The first square channel also includes a pitch envelope with sweep speed and depth controls. The noise channel provides the user with noise timbre adjustments, covering a wide range of classic 8-bit noise flavors.
During my test in MuLab 7, PAPU performed without any issues or glitches. The performance hit is quite low, around 2% per instance on an i7-powered laptop. Having used the original Gameboy to make music on numerous occasions, I’m happy to say that PAPU comes very close to the real deal in terms of sound character. This is especially evident in the noise channel which, unlike the pulse channels, isn’t that easy to emulate in regular virtual analog synthesizers.
If you’re into making chiptune music in your DAW without any outboard gear, this free Gameboy emulator by SocaLabs is definitely a tool you should add to your arsenal. PAPU works as a VST and AU plugin on PC and Mac with support for 32-bit and 64-bit digital audio workstations. Btw, the same developer has recently released a Sega Master System emulation which is also worth checking out.
PAPU is available for free download via SocaLabs (3.17 MB download size, ZIP archive, 32-bit & 64-bit VST/AU plugin format for Windows & Mac OS).