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Ming Mecca: An analog video game synthesizer


What in the world is an analog video game synthesizer? That's a very good question, and one we are ill-equipped to properly answer, but here goes. Introducing Ming Mecca, a modular synthesizer that allows users to create and manipulate retro games ... solely by flipping toggle switches, turning knobs and plugging in wires. The system comes in two modules. The World Core manipulates the game world, and the Control Core utilizes an NES controller for a variety of different inputs.

It's pretty bizarre, and designer Jordan Bartee of Special Stage Systems admits to Joystiq that he can't even predict what users will do with it. Some will undoubtedly use it "purely as a sort of 8-bit glitch visualizer," he says. "I've been calling Ming Mecca an ontological toy. When I use it, it's about exploring the possibility space of game mechanics, sure – but more deeply it's about exploring the inner systems of virtual worlds, and by extension, of our own world." Naturally, not everyone will see it that way, he says, noting that "the system can be fun just as a pure video synth."

Special Stage Systems is hoping to have Ming Mecca ready to ship to customers by summer of 2014. Price hasn't been determined yet, but Bartee estimates it will be "in the neighborhood of $999 for the World Core, $350 for the Control Core," which he says is competitive with similar modular synthesizers. For DIY enthusiasts, firmware source code and schematics for Ming Mecca are already available for free, and Special Stage Systems will release the PCB and panel designs after the retail launch.

If nothing else, the strange device has given us one incredible video. You can also watch two technical videos, explaining the World Core and Control Core, after the break.

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