Ugritone Koji: 16-bit Chiptunes Made Simple (Review)

Disclaimer: Prior to writing this review, I provided demos for the official Koji store page. However, I did pay full price for the instrument. This review contains my honest opinions.

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Looking to write 16-bit chiptunes? Making SNES-style music isn’t as straightforward as other retro consoles. Thankfully, virtual instruments like Koji make it easy to write music that sounds authentic to the era.

This review will cover the basics of Ugritone’s Koji instrument. We’ll use that to determine if it’s worth your time as a game composer.

Koji - 16-Bit Retro Sound Library

A fun virtual instrument filled with unique 16-bit SNES sounds. Koji is a great addition to any retro game composer's arsenal.

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What Is Koji?

Koji is a virtual instrument that replicates sounds from the 16-bit era of gaming. It’s a standalone plugin that works for your DAW, and doesn’t require Kontakt or any other synth engine to run. 

Simply put: Koji’s an affordable solution for writing SNES-inspired music and immediately satisfies those ‘90s nostalgia cravings.

How Does Koji Work?

Unlike other consoles of the time, the SNES mostly used imported sounds for its audio. In simplest terms, composers would upload their samples, then the SNES would compress them for playback.

The folks at Ugritone replicated this by sampling an old Casio keyboard, which game composers would’ve had access to at the time. Then they compressed those audio files for that 16-bit crunch.

The result is a sample library with sounds that could plausibly be heard on the SNES.

Features in the Koji Keyboard

Koji has a pretty minimal design. The main interface looks like a SNES controller, with each of the face buttons serving different functions.

Koji’s main interface

57 Instruments & Sounds

You get plenty of instruments to play around with in Koji. These instruments include a range of synths, pads, and percussion. They’re all pretty cheesy, which adds to that ‘90s charm.

Attack & Release Controls

These are pretty standard envelope controls you can find on just about any synthesizer. They affect how fast the attack and release of each note are.

Delay Controls

These controls let you simulate the faux-reverb effect found in some SNES games. One dial changes delay time, while the other affects how much feedback you get from the delay.

Pitch Bend & Mod Wheel Vibrato

If your MIDI controller has pitch and mod wheels, you can add some performative elements to your writing. One lets you bend the pitch about 1.5 octaves in either direction. The other gives you a pretty wide vibrato.

Why Use Koji

The SNES used imported samples to create its music. For modern game composers, this presents a few challenges:

  • You can’t recreate SNES sounds by simply emulating its sound chips (like you can with the NES or Mega Drive/Genesis).
  • Sampling and bit-crushing your own 16-bit sounds can be a time-consuming process.
  • Using ROM-hacked soundfonts is a legal gray area.

Koji eliminates these problems by giving you a unique palette of retro-sounding samples. They’re ready to play out of the box, so you can start making 16-bit music right away.

Koji Pros & Cons

If you’re a retro VGM fan, you’ll find plenty to love about Koji. That said, I have some minor nitpicks. First, let’s go over the positives.


  • Immediately satisfying to use
  • Works as a standalone instrument
  • Affordable price

Koji gives you some crunchy, lo-fi instruments that sound straight out of a retro video game. These sounds are immediately satisfying to use and super fun to play with.

The other thing I like about Koji is its accessibility to newer game composers:

  1. It works as a standalone plugin. You don’t need Kontakt or any other plugin to operate it.
  2. The affordable price. Koji is much less expensive than some of the alternatives out there.

All in all, it’s a nice package that works well as someone’s first SNES vst.


  • Unpolished UI design
  • Lack of orchestral & percussion sounds
  • Distracting animation

As charming as the SNES controller layout is, the UI feels unpolished.

For example, the left & right buttons on the D-pad let you scroll through the different sounds. But the up & down buttons don’t do anything at all.

Likewise, there are three “start & select” buttons that also don’t do anything. These give me the impression that additional features were planned but never implemented.

Koji doesn’t have any convincing orchestral sounds either. The ones present sound very “synth-y”, and wouldn’t work well for writing something in the style of Zelda or Final Fantasy.

Percussion instruments also lack variety.

And while I’m personally not bothered by it, I could see how the animation in the upper half of the screen can be distracting to some users.

Alternatives to Koji

Koji isn’t the only SNES vst out there. These are the best ones I could find: 

  • Super Audio Cart — SAC is a Kontakt sample library that comes with hundreds of SNES sounds. Plus, there are thousands more from 14 other classic game consoles and computers (Read our review).
  • ChipSynth SFC — This plugin comes with a huge bank of authentic SNES-era sounds. It also emulates the SNES’s audio hardware. So you can upload samples and within seconds, create your own unique 16-bit instruments.

From my experience, Koji’s sounds are a bit “dirtier” and have an edgier, more compressed sound. That can either be a good or bad thing, depending on the style of music you’re writing.

Top Pick
Super Audio Cart - Retro Game Samples

Super Audio Cart includes sounds from 15 classic game consoles and computers spanning several decades. It's the most comprehensive library of retro game samples ever assembled.

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ChipSynth SFC - 16-bit Synthesizer

An impressive virtual instrument that emulates the SNES sound hardware. Use the sample library it comes with, or upload your own samples and create new 16-bit instruments!

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Final Thoughts: Should You Get Ugritone’s Koji?

As someone who’s written my fair share of chiptune music, I’ve gotten good mileage from Koji. 

It works great as a standalone library, and you could write entire game soundtracks with it.

But most importantly, the sounds are fun and immediately scream “90s video game” to me. Any avid game composer and chiptune enthusiast would do well to add Koji into their toolkit.

Koji - 16-Bit Retro Sound Library

A fun virtual instrument filled with unique 16-bit SNES sounds. Koji is a great addition to any retro game composer's arsenal.

Buy Now
We may earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.