Review by digimax

"Unique, and special."

Electroplankton. Upon hearing the name, one should be able to tell that it is not an ordinary game.

Well, the fact is, it is not a game at all.

Toshio Iwai's latest "interactive media art" is now available for the DS. In case you don't know, he created SimTunes, as well as several other interesting and unique "inventions". Not many would probably remember SimTunes, but it has the similar flavour of "making music" in Toshio Iwai's ways.

The concept of an interactive media art is something which cannot be fully explained. There are 10 different plankton in the game. All of them respond different to actions and produce different types of music.

Take "Nanocarp", the bunny shaped plankton at the center of the cover, for example. Clapping, singing and blowing to the microphone of the DS causes them to line up in various patterns, and using the D-pad to create waves makes them spin and chime out music. It is unlikely to obtain the exact same sound produced, as each of them move around randomly.

The rest of the plankton have their own set of ways to perform. Move the stylus in circles to spin "Lumiloop", trace lines for "Tracy" to follow and release different notes. Speak to "Volvoice" to have it mutate randomly, as well as tweaking your voice into funny ways.

The game uses the bottom screen to present all the plankton, while the top screen serves as a "magnifier", which can be controlled by the X and Y buttons, to zoom in and out. By tapping at the lower screen you may select an area to focus on. The good thing is, due to superior graphics engine, there is no pixelation (or jagged edges) when zooming into the plankton, and there seems to be some anti-aliasing feature that creates smooth enlarged views of the plankton.

Other than being interactive, there is an option to watch the electroplankton make music on their own. This mode is rather relaxing, and interesting to watch. The plankton are still interactive in this mode, although you may not "stop" at a certain plankton as this mode cycles through all ten of them.

Being a music game, sound is extremely important. The music produced by this title is extremely clear, from high-pitched tinkles to the lows of the piano. Limited Editions of the game comes with a earphone bonus, which is similar to the "Band Brothers" earphones, only to be in a cool transparent blue tone.

Electroplankton came to me in a very shiny, metallic blue box, with white outlines of the 10 different plankton that are in the game. The game card itself shares the similar colours, standing out from the rest of the DS games as well. It is unknown at time of writing if this title will be released in English, but there is no language barrier in the game at all, for the text portions in Japanese in the game are just descriptions and the game is basically more on self-exploration.

Interesting and fun.
Good for people who enjoy "playing" such titles.
Uses all of the DS' unique functions.
Comes in a nice package.

No true gameplay/storyline.
Not for the average gamer.
Musical creations cannot be saved.
Bonus earphones are available for limited time.
No US release planned yet (at time of writing).

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 04/19/05

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