Nintendocore Pioneers Minibosses now 
Rocking for Good Times' Sake

Categories: Local Wire

Jason Killingsworth

Where would Minibosses be without Samus Aran and Jimmy Page? On the day of its release in 1987, pre-teen Aaron Burke picked up Metroid, an action game for the Nintendo Entertainment System that debuted Aran, a daring bounty hunter in space. A longtime science fiction/space fan, Burke fell hard for Metroid and, in turn, grew closer to video games.

"I really liked the soundtrack to Metroid, and it was spooky. I used to play it at night and have all the lights out," says the guitarist of Minibosses, a Phoenix instrumental four-piece with an unusual history. "I used to love playing [Metroid], wandering around not knowing where I was going at first. That's the first time I ever had an experience with a video game where I was completely in love with it."

Some three years, Burke experienced another profound connection -- this time to rock music. While playing Dungeons & Dragons at a friend's place, his buddy put on Led Zeppelin III. Burke had never heard the group before.

"I liked music okay, but I wasn't in love with yet. [III] was the perfect D&D album," he says. "When 'Friends' came on, it was scary as hell to me, and I loved it."

Catching Page and company's work led to Burke's purchasing and wearing out his own copy of III, then getting to know Led Zeppelin's other records. Around this time, he also got into Metallica. Burke's affection for these bands spurred him to learn how to play guitar himself.

The loves for Nintendo games and rock music converged in the 1999 creation of Minibosses, a band that specializes in rock versions of Nintendo tunes. The group, which formed in Massachusetts but moved to Phoenix in 2000, lifts the tinny, simple scores of 8-bit games like Super Mario Bros. 3, The Legend of Zelda, Punch-Out!!, and, of course, Metroid, and transforms them into three-dimensional covers and medleys.

With their formation, they became one of the earliest and most important names in "Nintendocore," a loosely defined, occasionally maligned genre that mixes conventional rock band playing/writing dynamics with old game tunes and, in cases unlike Minibosses', the low-tech synthesizers old game systems used to generate that music. In the early 2000s, the band's reputation grew both in Phoenix and online, with Minibosses moving from midweek opening slots at local clubs to weekend headlining slots, earning press in big outlets like Wired and NPR, and performing alongside notable, non-niche rock outfits like Queens of the Stone Age and Local H.

Location Info

Crescent Ballroom

308 N. 2nd Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

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Lo Fullerton
Lo Fullerton

My wallet had a picture of an nes controller XD

Up On The Sun
Up On The Sun

I wonder how many people bring NES controllers to their shows

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