Review by FFandMMfan

"It sounds nice on paper, but in reality it just doesn't work."

Electroplankton, a "game" that was among the hot import titles last year which included Ouendan, Band Brothers, Jump Superstars, and a few other Japanese games that no one thought would come to America. Some of these titles are currently in development for an English release, but Electroplankton has jumped ahead of the crowd and made it to America already. After finding a copy at Gamestop (which was surprising, as it was supposed to be online-only) I picked up this "gem" that I had been very excited to play. I tried to like Electroplankton, but there just wasn't anything TO the game. The game has had some very mixed reviews, a lot of praise, and a lot of hate. I will present you with the hate for a game I really wanted to be able to praise.

Gameplay - 2/10
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The common phrase for the lovers of EP to say to those who are considering a purchase is "Keep an open mind, its not a game, its more like a digital toy" and really, thats exactly what it is. There is no objective, there is no win or loss, no protagonist or antagonist. But many games have worked just fine with a lacking of some of those components, but when the game has no foreseeable purpose, you lose your drive to play it. In Electroplankton, you are presented with 10 different types of shiny sea-based creatures called, well, Electroplankton. Each one makes its own distinct set of sounds on its own separate field, filled with several of its own kind. So what do you do? You touch them, and manipulate them or their surroundings in one way or another, and they will produce sounds. But there is a problem, everything on the field makes a similar sound, of a similar instrument, just changed in pitch.

Some of the 'Plankton of a specific species make their own special sound (like Lumiloop or Luminaria) but even so, one can only do so much with 5 spinning discs on a screen that produce sound waves when you rotate them. It is a mildly relaxing experience, and the interaction and sound feedback of the game does have a certain flair to it, but you quickly use the drive to play with this toy because everything to do, is so incredibly limited.

You cannot mix the sounds of the 'Plankton, if you choose Marine-Snow you have a set of piano keys shaped like snowflakes which would sound interesting with the occasional bell from Hanenbow, but unless you have a friend who also has EP, you're out of luck as far as making any sort of actual song goes.

Its not that the experience is bad, its not like something is horribly flawed and broken with the game, but rather there wasn't anything to break in the first place. There just isn't anything there.

Sound - 5/10
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"Music" is not an appropriate term of what this game produces, it creates ambient waves of relaxing sounds. The sounds themselves are quite nice, bells, piano, etc, and they sound like real instruments. But, again, there's only so much you can DO with touching little creatures that produce sounds, as all 'Plankton are unmarked so until you touch them, you can't tell what sort of sound they make, removing almost any chance of producing any true rhythm or anything that sounds like its more than just noise.

Graphics - 6/10
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I'm not grading it on its actual technical specs and how fast it can display this much of whatever graphics power... because just looking at the game, its very plain, basic and childlike. But the thing is, this also has a certain flair, everything is bright, shiny and produces waves of color that are gentle on the eyes. The style is nice... if only they could have applied it to a better sound system...

Final Thought
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This game COULD have been something, if a LOT more thought and time were put into it, it could have been a very interesting "toy" especially if it had things like a playback function (though a couple 'Plankton do, its erased when you change screens), a save feature, download play (to allow friends to help make SOMETHING out of the sounds) and maybe a bit more organized of a setup so that you could play something that didn't sound like random keyboard mashing.

Pros:
+ Had the POTENTIAL to be great...
+ The sounds are realistic.
+ Decently relaxing.
+ Cutesy-but-perfect art style.
+ Good for distracting young children.
+ The Volvoice "Plankton is a mini sound recorder and is fun to play with.
+ Lumiloop makes very pleasent sounds.
+ You can have the game auto-play for you.

Cons:
- Lacks any organization and isn't very fun after the first day.
- Can't produce more than "noise".
- Again, everything is scattered around and unmarked, resulting in unpredictable sounds.
- No saving, or playback.
- The auto-play function isn't very good, and simply mashes around, and just when it MIGHT produce something nice, it changes to the next 'Plankton.
- Did I mention that the game lacks ANY incentive to go anywhere near it?
- Lumiloop, the only one that makes really relaxing sounds, requires you to rapidly rotate the discs, killing any chance of you relaxing.
- Currently $35 plus shipping if you aren't as "lucky" as I was, not worth the price, maybe for MUCH less though.

Not worth the money it costs, not that fun and yeah, I did try and keep and open mind and I tried my hardest to enjoy it. But it just didn't have much to enjoy. Its fun for the first couple hours and then... you just get sick of it. I hope Nintendo could make a sequel for Wii that had MUCH more thought put into it, that would be worth playing. It does have great potential, but just doesn't pull it off.


Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 07/28/06


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