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  ‘Electroplankton DS’: First Impressions  
 
 
Posted 2006-06-26 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
Electroplankton is not a game, but it can be played on the Nintendo DS handheld game console. At worst, it's a toy, and at best it's a live performance tool. Users can interact with (i.e. "play") digital plankton, each with their own musical abilities and functions. Improvised and generative musical compositions can be created through Performance mode, but not recorded (except through outside means). Generative music can also be appreciated through Audience mode--basically, you can just set up Electroplankton to play crazy electronic music all day.

While I appreciate the well-crafted, intuitive interactivity, colourful, cute graphics and animation, I think Nintendo missed the boat on this title. It's totally overpriced (roughly $50 CAD) for a toy. At the very least, I would have expected compositions to be recorded, but better yet, shared through WiFi. Unfortunately, the audio seems to be comprised of samples rather than chip-based synthesis, resulting in sub-par quality. And my final gripe is that there's no built-in way to broadcast the images from Electroplankton to a video device during a performance, but that's really a fault with the DS.
 
     
 
   
 
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Comment posted by gatmog
June 26, 2006 @ 3:48 pm
     
 
A fair assessment.

I think the game's biggest failing is that you can't record any of the plankton's performances. For a game whose sole purpose is to produce music, it's laughable that the consumer is expected to pay the price of a full game for what comes across as a tech demo. Even New Super Mario Bros. is cheaper, though I expect the price of Electroplankton after six months on the shelves is mostly a function of its rarity. I haven't seen many copies in the stores in my area.

Though what I find most amusing are the reviews of Electroplankton a lot of them are positively charged, claiming that Electroplankton is the fusion of game and art we didn't know we were waiting for. It's annoying to listen to reviewers slaver over this "game" when its primary function is undercut by the lack of a save feature. The limited palette of samples can be improved with creating your own snippets using the onboard microphone with a certain kind of plankton, but it's all transitory. You put it perfectly when you call Electroplankton a "toy", because that's really all it is. Not art, not a game a simple distraction that will leave no lasting impressions on the DS library.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
June 27, 2006 @ 9:43 am
     
 
I'd buy that it's art, it's just that as mass-produced art, I don't feel fifty bucks is worth it.

Particularly when stuff like this is available for free.
 
     
 
     
   
 
 
     
 
     
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