Wut U Talkin Bout? Electroplankton

Wut U Talkin Bout is a quick look at overlooked titles in gaming history, or a overlooked entry in a franchise.

The Nintendo DS ushered in a new audience of gamers. While there was a loose definition for what casual gamers were before, the DS really set the definition in stone. Titles like Brain Age and Nintendogs changed the face of a huge portion of the market. Nintendo pushes these type of titles out like crazy nowadays, and they are generally very successful. But one of Nintendo’s earlier casual titles on the Nintendo DS sort of released a bit shy of the casual boom. Electroplankton, for the Nintendo DS, was one of the first titles on the platform Nintendo called a toy and a creative tool, instead of a game.
Electroplankton for the Nintendo DS is really just a mix of music creation tools. Each tool is represented by a plankton with its own set of sounds and functions. There are 8-bit notes that you can mix and match, and sounds from more standard instruments like violins, bells, pianos, etc. Based off that description, you may think it is like every other music creation title on DS and DSiWare. But what sets Electroplankton apart from other music creating software is how its presented and how you create music. Although, the results are good and bad.

Electroplankton takes away the standard instrument layout and expects you to learn a new way to play an instrument. All of the music controls in the game are represented by plankton. Some of them you touch to make noise, while others interact with the environment to make noise. But each plankton type has different ways you interact with them. It is almost like learning how to use a miniature instruments. Although some odd choices takes some of the ease out of creating music. For example, one of the plankton makes piano sounds but every time you touch them they start darting around on the screen – basically randomizing the keys on a virtual keyboard with every note played There is little you can do other than have an insanely good memory of where all the keys are and where they have moved to. Or you can play like me and just stab all the plankton in the face with your stylus and pretend you are making music.

The music creation tools of Electroplankton are fairly limited, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make anything (I mean, just search for Mario Paint compositions on Youtube). But probably the biggest issue in Electroplankton is the lack of a save system. If you like something you just made, you can’t save it. The only way to replicate it is by remembering how you got a certain sound before. It encourages you to improvise, but it is a little discouraging knowing you can’t show anyone your creations. Although there are ways you can record it to a computer, but you can figured that out yourself.

If you want to create music on your Nintendo DS, there are plenty of other alternatives that 1. make more sense, 2. give you more freedom, and 3. allows for you to save songs you have created. But Electroplankton holds a special spot in the DS library as one of Nintendo’s first attempts at the casual market on the Nintendo DS, and as a game where you stab plankton and use their musical screams to create music. Electroplankton was only sold through online retailers, so it can be a bit pricey nowadays for a physical copy. Thankfully, if you have a Nintendo DSi, you can conveniently download pieces of the game through DSiWare for a pretty cheap price. So if it sounds interesting and you have a few bucks to spare, trying downloading a couple via DSiware. You might find yourself having some fun.

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