glitchNES v0.2

Don Miller, aka NO CARRIER, has just released a new, updated version of glitchNES. This is very exciting! For those not familiar with glitchNES, here's a brief introduction.

glitchNES is a custom-built Nintendo ROM that uses software tricks to create visual effects reminiscent of hardware glitches. Everyone who ever owned or played an original NES system should recognize these patterns, usually indicating that you need to hit the reset button and/or blow in the cartridge. Instead of remaining static, glitchNES encourages live manipulation of the imagery using a keyboard or external controller. Modifiable parameters include direction of movement, color, pattern, speed, and more.

Here are a few of my past experiments with v0.1.

Version 0.1 was a good start, but the concept is much more fully realized in v0.2. In particular, the live performance capability has been greatly increased. This was always the most exciting aspect of glitchNES to me, ever since I caught a video of Don Miller generating live visuals for a really crunchy electronica show, and I'm glad to see that he has continued developing with this in mind.

Version 0.2 doubles the number of controls (it now requires 2 controllers if you aren't using the qwerty keyboard), and adds more graphics banks which can be swapped on the fly. There is also a tap tempo function that allows for some rhythmic fluctuation of the imagery. As with the v0.1, the graphics banks may be edited using a tile editor to customize the resulting visuals. While I recommend this if you are planning to use glitchNES for a live show, I had a lot of fun just playing with the default banks that come pre-loaded.

Hardcore NES hackers can even buy some specialized hardware and create their own physical NES cartridge for use in an original system (works for NTSC anyhow). Everything you need for this process can be found at RetroZone.

glitchNES is available for free download here. After downloading, you need to run the compile.bat file to generate the ROM (glitchnes.nes). In order to use the ROM you will need to load it into an NES emulator. I recommend Nestopia or RockNES.


Editor's note: Don Miller will be leading a short workshop on NES hacking as part of the GLI.TC/H festival in Chicago. This will be held at the Nightingale Theater on Saturday, October 2nd @ 5pm. Ben will be performing a live set alongside Evan Kühl at the same venue a few hours later. A full schedule and further details can be found at