Parisian developer Pastagames is a small outfit with five people on its core team. It's been balancing its books by developing licensed games for big publishers, but its first original property is Maestro: Jump in Music. An incredibly original Nintendo DS game, Maestro: Jump in Music is essentially a platformer that you control by playing music with the stylus. We managed to score a first look at the game, as well as talk to Pastagames' Fabien Delpiano on the show floor.
Maestro is the sort of game you need to see in motion to really appreciate, but the concept is fairly simple. You control Presto, a music-loving bird. Presto automatically runs from left to right, walking along thin lines that can be plucked using the stylus. Your character jumps or falls depending on whether you flick upward or downward, so you need to pay attention to where the next wire is or your character falls off the screen. You also have to flick the wire at the point that a small bar appears because this designates a note from the song.
Maestro contains quite a few famous classical compositions, such as "O sole mio" (which you may know as the "Just One Cornetto" song) and "In the Hall of the Mountain King." It helps to know the song you're playing because tapping out the notes with perfect timing gives you a gold note, and collecting these gold notes means that more birds follow you through the level to give you more points at the end.
In addition to plucking the notes on the strings, there are several variations to the instruments. In the space-based level that features "In the Hall of the Mountain King," you must rub a black hole to keep your character in midair. The song gets faster and faster towards the end, which makes juggling all the instruments and keeping your character going increasingly difficult.
The full version of Maestro will offer 18 tracks, plus seven in the form of boss fights. The game will launch on the Nintendo DS first, but it will also be available on DSiWare, as well as the iPhone/iPod Touch.