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Electroplankton (import) Package Art
GENRE
Media Art
DEVELOPER
Nintendo
PUBLISHER
Nintendo
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
No
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
No
MICROPHONE
Yes
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Electroplankton (import)

If you have been following Nintendo lately, you've probably already read that one of the goals of the Nintendo DS is to reach an untapped market of people who typically do not play games, or consider themselves a “gamer.” Electroplankton is part of that strategy. To call Electroplankton a game however, could be a little bit misleading.

visuals

The visuals are one of the most important aspects of Electroplankton. The game has been touted as a form of art ever since it was first announced, and the visuals are just as important as the audio. They are quite hypnotic, and have a very unique feel for a very unique game. Each type of Electroplankton seems to have it's own type of personality, and it feels like they are coming alive, right on the dual screens.

audio

The audio is amazing. The sound and the music is simply beautiful, and is really what this game is all about. Hours upon hours can be spent discovering all the possible notes, and deciding what sounds go well together. As it has been said before, and will be said again, this is truly art.

gameplay

Electroplankton is an extremely difficult game to explain. Honestly, to truly understand it, it has to be played. It is one of the most unusual games released in years. There is no real objective, no rules, and it is only limited by how far your creativity can take you. The game is played by interacting with and changing the environment and the electroplankton to create different sounds and visuals. It has been described as a “media art” game, and Electroplankton truly is art.

As soon as you see Electroplankton, you know it is a bit different. It comes packaged in a shiny blue box, that is twice as thick as regular Nintendo DS games. Also included inside the box are dark blue Electroplankton earphones. That was a very wise decision by Nintendo. Otherwise there would be some extremely annoyed people on the trains.

There are ten different types of Electroplankton, each having their own different type of “level.”

  • Tracy – On the bottom of the screen, there are six different colored plankton. After you select one, it will follow a line that you draw on the screen. When the plankton moves across different areas of the screen, it will produce different sounds.

  • Hanenbow – Tadpole shaped plankton are shot out of a leaf towards another plant. You can change the angle of the leaf, and the angles of the leaves on the plant. When they strike a leaf, they make a sound, and bounce off into other leaves (and then finally down into the water below).

  • Luminaria – When it starts out, four plankton are at the corners of the screen. After you touch them, they will follow a grid of arrows. Each time a plankton reaches an arrow a sound is made. By touching an arrow, you can change the direction, which will change the sound that is made when the plankton hit it. The four plankton move at different speeds, and make different sounds.

  • Sun-Animalcule – By touching the screen, you place a plankton down, which will grow over time into a sun, or a moon. At first, the plankton makes a quick shallow sound, but over time, you will get a deep full sound, until it bursts. You can place as many planktons as you like throughout the screen, and they will make different sounds at different locations.

  • Rec-Rec – There are four fish which swim from right to left across the screen. When you press on one, you can use the microphone to speak into the DS, and the fish will repeat it while swimming across the screen. Combined with different background drum beats you can choose from, you can come up with some interesting vocal arrangements (for lack of a better word).

  • Nanocarp – In Nanocarp, there are about 16 planktons swimming on the surface of the water. When the player touches the screen, it sends out a ripple of water which makes a sound when it touches one of the planktons. The planktons also send out a little ripple themselves, which can touch other nearby plankton to produce sound. If you clap into the microphone, they will form into a circle.

  • Lumiloop – Five round plankton are on the screen, and by spinning them, they make sounds. Each of them make two sounds, depending on which way you spin it. While it spins, a wave of color will be shot out of it. When the circle reaches the edge of the screen, it will produce the sound at a higher octave. If you stop spinning it, it will slow down and the sound will eventually stop.

  • Marine-Snow – There are plankton scattered throughout the screen, which resemble snowflakes. When you touch one, it makes a piano like sound, and will swap spaces with the next plankton you touch. If you touch them while they are overlap, you can create chords. While it's fun to play, it eventually becomes random. It's impossible to track down which plankton makes what sound, as they are constantly swapping spaces.

  • Beatnes – This is one of the most fun for the “old school” gamers out there. Five long plankton are stretched out a long the screen, each producing a different scale of sounds. The notes that are played become repeated for a few measures and then forgotten. The fun part about this game, is the music you play along with. There are four different levels with each level containing different Famicon/NES music. It includes Mario, Kid Icarus, Famicon Collection (Donkey Kong music in the background, with scales from various games), and Robot. While I'm not exactly sure what “Robot” is, I believe it's from The Family Computer Robot, also known as R.O.B. in America.

  • Volvoice – Different than the rest of the modes, music isn't created in Volvoice. The plankton repeat whatever is inputted using the microphone. The plankton are then be morphed into different shapes, which alters the sound. It's a little bit strange watching the plankton repeat you, because the mouth movements are actually quite realistic. The replay value in Volvoice is a little bit shallow compared to the other modes.

Electroplankton does suffer a couple serious flaws. There is no way to save your creations. While I can appreciate the fact that this keeps it unique and fresh every time you play, there will be times that a save function is sorely missed. How else are you supposed to show your friends your latest and greatest song? Short of plugging your Nintendo DS into a receiver and manually recording it, you can't, and that's a shame. Even if you decide to manually record it, you will miss out on the unique visuals that go along with it.

Another issue is replay value. This also stems from not having the ability to save. After you have played so much, there really is no reason to come back if you don’t have a song you can work on, or any new songs or modes to unlock. This really could have been easy to add and it's a shame they didn't.

multiplayer

While there isn't really a multiplayer mode, if you have a friend with a copy, it's fun to "jam out" together, each of you playing on your own Nintendo DS.

overall

While Electroplankton has a few obvious flaws, it is a very addictive game, and hours fly by before you know it. The various colors, visuals, and sounds create a very zen-like atmosphere. While playing, don't be surprised if you slip into a very relaxed state of mind, almost like being hypnotized. Just like Iwata-san said, Electroplankton is a game that “creates harmony.”

Is Electroplankton the right game for you? It's definitely not for everyone. Do you like creating music? Do you like exploring your creativity? Well, Electroplankton makes it easy to do so. If you need some sort of objective, or an epic story, look elsewhere.

If you find yourself even slightly interested, do yourself a favor and give Electroplankton a chance. It is not an experience you'll likely ever come across again.

Electroplankton requires no knowledge of Japanese to enjoy. Import with no worries at all.

final score 8.4/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Caleb Gossler
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"85% of all statistics are incorrect."


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