Vancouver Security Systems

A new chiptune album is coming to the Nintendo Famicom

Every week it feels like a new video game soundtrack gets a vinyl release. Journey, The Last of Us, FTL and Shenmue -- none of these are surprises anymore. So what's next? MiniDiscs? Cassette tapes? Well, some musicians are keen to use cartridges instead. 8BIT MUSIC POWER is a new chiptune album that you'll need to slide into a Nintendo Famicom (Japan's equivalent of the NES) to listen to. Developed by RIKI and manufactured by Columbus Circle, it features 12 original tracks from, among others, former Famicom music composers Yuriko Keino (Xevious, Dig Dug) and Takeaki Kunimoto (Star Soldier).

Given it's a cartridge, there's more than just audio here. Each track is accompanied by some pixellated visuals -- a music video of sorts -- and there seems to be some kind of mini game too (pause the video below at 1:32). Unfortunately, this unusual music release is only planned for Japan. It'll be available through Amazon for 3,800 yen (roughly $30) from January 31st and only "several thousand copies" are being made, according to the Wall Street Journal. But if it's popular, who knows -- maybe we'll get a NES version too...

Toymaker VTech says data was stolen from its kiddie app store

VTech, the brand best known for its electronic kid's toys and cordless phones, said Friday that hackers had earlier this month stolen some of its customer data. While VTech is hardly the first company to see its user info compromised, the target here was relatively unusual: an app store for children. Learning Lodge, as it's called, is a storefront where kids and their parents can download apps, games, e-books and various educational materials. While it's a bit disturbing to imagine a breach that even tangentially involves children, the company says that no "personal identification data" (social security numbers, et cetera) was compromised. VTech says no credit card information was exposed either.

That said, some of the information sure sounds personally identifiable. All told, says VTech, the hackers obtained access to things like usernames, encrypted passwords, email addresses, IP addresses users' download histories, and answers to security questions. So, although the company says it "conducted a thorough investigation, which involved a comprehensive check of the affected site and implementation of measures to defend against any further attacks," you might want to reset your kiddo's account anyway, complete with a new password and possibly username and email address too.

[Image credit: Getty Images]

Microsoft's Cortana iPhone app rolls out to beta testers

Less than a month after kicking off the Cortana for iPhone beta signups, Microsoft has started rolling out the app to people who showed interest in testing it. As TechCrunch points out, the early build is being distributed through TestFlight, a developer-focused service that lets iOS users try applications before their public release. Based on the app's current description, Microsoft is asking testers to set a Cortana reminder on a Windows 10 PC and see how it works with an iPhone, as well as communicate with the virtual assistant and observe how she responds to queries. Back in August, Cortana also arrived on Android via public beta, so it's only a matter of time before Microsoft officially releases it on Google and Apple's mobile platforms.

[Image credits: Associated Press; Microsoft News.]