Belushi Speed Ball is a crossover thrash metal band from Louisville, Kentucky. Belushi Speed Ball’s latest album, What, Us Worry? was released earlier this year on May 27, 2022. The music video for “Ripping Off Municipal Waste” was released earlier this month. The album is available on CD, streaming everywhere, and on N64 and Game Boy Advance. Yes, you read that right. One of the merch items that the band sells is video game versions of their albums that you can put in and play on if you want. We got the chance to talk with the band to figure out how they do it.
Vocalist and Guitarist Vincent “Vinny” Castellano is the one in the band who actually makes the cartridge versions of the band’s albums. Talking about that process, Vinny said “the video game albums are all different in that each one has a different method in how you go about doing them.” In addition to the video game albums, Castellano also handles making the majority of the band’s merch. You can also find tech decks, action figures, and more.
“The albums are essentially ROM hacks. That’s where you take a pre-existing video game and you re-write the code so that way you can make it do whatever you want,” Castellano explained. “The ROM hacks are all designed so that way they play our music.”
“Specifically, to the Game Boy album, I hacked Double Dragon not once but twice so Double Dragon 1 and Double Dragon 2,” Castellano said. “I redrew the sprites so they look like our manager senior Diablo and you play as Diablo and fight everyone.”
Castellano says that every single one of the video game albums is different. “It’s difficult, that’s the hard part, is getting the ROM itself to make your music. Getting it onto physical media isn’t that tough for some of them because it’s a flash card.” Castellano gets SD card cartridges in various forms that you can put different types of ROM video games on. “I’m not soldering or making anything special there, you’re just buying a flash card. But, the hard part is programming that ROM to work.”
In addition to N64 and Game Boy Advance, there are also Sega CD versions. For the next album, Castellano says that he has a Super Nintendo prototype and a Sega Dreamcast prototype that work. “It’s just a matter of getting that program running. You get it running through an emulation on the computer and then from there you get it on to physical media.”