Electroplankton Hands-On Preview

Ever wanted to cook up your own stupid fat Duck Hunt remix? Of course you have, and with Electroplankton, you'll finally get your chance.

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What exactly is Electroplankton? That's a good question. The easy answer is that it's some sort of musical creation-focused nongame. There are 10 different pieces to look at in Electroplankton, and each is focused on letting you create music in a very nontraditional way. Using the DS touch screen (and occasionally the microphone), you'll be able to manipulate different objects to create sounds.

There are 10 different electroplankton to choose from, and each one launches a different piece of musical media. Our personal favorite is probably the ninth entry, Beatnes. Beatnes employs sound effects and funky drum tracks from classic NES games, giving you the opportunity to compose little melodies using square waves, triangle waves, and other distinctly 8-bit material, like the sound of the barking dog from Duck Hunt or voice samples from Gyromite. You create this music by tapping on a series of creatures that sway back and forth on the screen, rather than plotting things out in a sequencer.

Another piece shows four fish swimming across the screen. Each one of these fish actually represents a recording track and you can speak, hum, or beatbox into the microphone to record anything you like. Then, the tracks loop, giving you a tiny little four-track recorder. Unfortunately, there appears to be some slight latency when you record to the microphone, so getting your tracks to line up with the backbeat can be trying. While each individual section may be very simple, the sum of all them together makes it an interesting and quirky collection.

Eletroplankton also has a very unique look to it. It's not easy to come up with 10 different ways to make music that are graphically represented by sea life. But the different looks of Electroplankton are interesting and, after a little experimentation, pretty intuitive.

Doesn't look much like a music maker, but that's precisely what it is.
Doesn't look much like a music maker, but that's precisely what it is.

While there may not be much to figure out about Electroplankton, and it might have been nice to see a way to save your compositions, this collection of touchable music mini-applications is an interesting and unique use of the Nintendo DS's touch screen and microphone. No current plans to release this product outside of Japan have been announced, and it's just the sort of crazy that might stay confined there. Stay tuned and we'll keep you posted on any further developments.

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