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Photo via Blotendo

Old-school Nintendo blowing returns with the ‘Harmonicartridge’

Blow your friend's minds (and some tunes) with this harmonica cartridge.


Michelle Jaworski

Internet Culture

Posted on Oct 18, 2016   Updated on May 25, 2021, 6:51 pm CDT

While most of us fondly reminisce over classic Nintendo and Sega games, we probably don’t miss how finicky the game cartridges actually are. They take up lots of space, get dusty, and if you don’t put them into the gaming system just right, don’t work. That’s why many of us became experts at blowing cartridges.

And while those days are far behind for many gaming enthusiasts, we can now relive the sensation while making some fine tunes along the way.

Enter the Harmonicartridge, which takes the original Nintendo-style cartridge design and turns the bottom half into a 20-tone, portable, pocket-friendly harmonica, from Blotendo and creator Brady Grumpelt. It looks like a Nintendo cartridge—and early prototypes were even made from cartridges, though he plans to use new game shells for future production—but playing it is a different beast.

The label, which takes cues from Mario and the Blues Brothers with a “Super Blues Bros.” design, is completely customizable if you so choose. The original model runs for $14 while the custom model is going for as low as $18.

And it’s even got a retro commercial to boot.

“I saw someone blowing on a cartridge, like we did when I was younger and for a split second I thought to myself ‘Is that a harmonica?’ and of course it wasn’t but that got me to do a search to see if someone had made a game cartridge harmonica, and there wasn’t really anything on the market,” Grumpelt told the Daily Dot in an email. “It was only a day before I was knocking on my friends door with an old game and a harmonica in my hand telling him to ‘make this a thing’. He knew exactly what  I wanted without much prompting.”

The Harmonicartridge is available in the key of C, and Blotendo demonstrates how it works by fittingly playing the Super Mario Bros. theme on it.

The cartridge Grumpelt uses as the design calls back to Nintendo, but so far he appears to be in the clear about using it to make his harmonica.

“We haven’t heard anything official from Nintendo, but one employee did say they thought it was pretty cool,” he said. “Since we aren’t making games and our designs are ours, we don’t foresee any issues. I’m hoping they have a good sense of humor about it.”

Grumpelt launched the Kickstarter on Oct. 3 and asked for $3,052. With 15 days to go he’s raised about 40 percent of his goal at $1,244, and plans to ship the products in time for Christmas if the Kickstarter is successful. The Harmonicartridge plays up the Nintendo nostalgia, but considering the harmonica recently got national play from Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine, the mouthpiece could be making a comeback.

Now that would be a great tune to play.

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*First Published: Oct 18, 2016, 3:47 pm CDT