Reviews// Electroplankton (DS)

Posted 10 Jun 2005 16:23 by
Want to know a secret? The DS isn't really for games. Of course, it has games on it, very good ones, but that's not what it's for. It's actually for stuff. Everyone's already bought a Game Boy. Or ten. And right now, Nintendo is reluctant to plough a billion or so into a next-generation portable games machine. So it's left with the DS. And a massive untapped market of non-gamers. Many of whom like the idea of a portable machine that can go on the Internet, for free, offer voice-over IP calls, for free and send a receive emails. For free. And do stuff.

So Nintendo was left with the poser of what stuff non-gamers want. Aside from functional stuff, creative stuff would likely be a great selling point for a somewhat homeless portable computing device. And so Electroplankton was born.

It isn't a game, it's a thing, loosely based around music creation within digital art? Sound a little highbrow? That's because it is. Though accessible to anyone able to hold a stylus. There is no goal, aside from growing the occasional flower. It sounds pointless because it is. However, once you pick it up, you'll notice an inability to put it down. Many are drawn to shed a slight tear when using Electroplankton. We are dealing with an enigma, something totally new, exuding brilliance within its ten sections. You're confused right now because you're reading a game review about a non-game. And yet you can tell it's good. Allow SPOnG to explain.

The first thing that drew SPOnG to Electroplankton was the packaging the title seemingly deserved. It's a double case, with a glossy cardboard metallic slip revealing two internal sections: one for a boxed DS game and one for the free blue earphones that come with the bundle. Stylistically, Electroplankton even manages to trump Nintendo's own Band Brothers (Dai Gassou!), quite a feat!

You are offered upon boot two modes of play: Spectator Mode and Conductor Mode. Spectator allows you to watch the CPU operate Electroplankton, with Conductor putting you in charge.

Perhaps the best place to start with Electroplankton is with what SPOnG believes is its strongest and most compelling offering: Hanenbow. Perhaps because it is the section most like an actual game. Hanenbow sees the player manipulate little plankton as they pop out of the water from a leaf chute. You then manipulate a plant, moving its leaves using the stylus, with the goal of bouncing the plankton between them for as long as possible. The point of impact of the projectile on the leaf dictates the note of the Japanese harp voice accompanying this section and as more and more plankton hit the leaves they turn red, until eventually a flower bursts from the top of the plant. SPOnG understands that this does sound a little rubbish. What's the point? The point is probably the way that the slightest movement of any leaf affects the loop of sound generated, with the frequency of plankton dictating its intensity. As you struggle to balance the flow of this game, you slowly become hypnotised by the beautiful looping noise feeding directly into your brain. When you get it right and the flower opens, something changes, not in the game but inside your brain. You realise that this title is not an attempt to grab the evaporating zeitgeist of modern electronic music, (in spite of Nintendo of America's horrendous presentation of Electroplankton at E3) it is a stunning and unique piece of art.
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TigerUppercut 10 Jun 2005 17:02
it is indeed, very good.
TigerUppercut 12 Jun 2005 11:39
*looks around*
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kid_77 12 Jun 2005 13:33
If I had a DS I'd get it. But...
Joji 12 Jun 2005 15:34
Another different title for my list. Chill Tiger, I'll look into bagging an import copy. 30 quid for a DS game officially, don't make me laugh.

Now hurry up with that Trauma Center: Under the Knife review, Spong. Think it's out in japan June 16th so please review it.

Perhaps regular import review requests might not be such a bad idea, think about it spong crew. When news is slow we'd have something else to read. Also think about all the good games we never see officially thanks to suits and decisions out of our hands.

Good review by the way, it did sound like a tricky one to review.
Ditto 13 Jun 2005 08:51
Rumours suggest that this game won't make it outside of Japan.

This sounds like such an accessible title. Nintendo need to get this to the US and Europe - it would finally show the DS is capable of non-traditional games and sell bucketloads of units in the process.

It's on my list.
Joji 13 Jun 2005 12:08
I suppose Electroplankton is in the hands of Nintendo and it's marketing team. The problem also is that marketing folk really have to get creative to sell this title and others like it. If they manage it though it will be good for the industry where it's too easy to push identikit games out of the door.

What worries me too is that compared to japanese release list we are missing some good titles for the DS already. The cool part is that we can import games as we see fit, but only the hardcore gamers in the know like us here would bother.

Adam, you may be right. I've checked the DS release list and I don't see Electroplankton on the list. All I see for June is Ridge Racer and Another Code officially. You would have thought that Electroplankton would be quicker to translate than AC, and I don't see it on the future list either. Perhaps Nintendo are holding it for Xmas release. Hope so.
OptimusP 13 Jun 2005 12:11
Well, release it in Europe anyways, Europeans have a healty appetite for some crazy japanese stuff.
And it's not like they would make a huge financial risk, the damn game cost like 50 000$ to make anyway.

Tell you what Big N, you give Europe Electroplankton and we'll buy it like crazy if you promise not to release the hip-hop and/or rap version of that game here. Thank you.
soanso 28 Jun 2005 02:45
this game looks excellent.
can anyone recomend a good importer
preferably one based in britain (I'm a bit wary of the hong kong based folk)
or else ca games it is. not the cheapest but at least I know what I am getting with them.
LUPOS 22 Aug 2005 05:25
TigerUppercut wrote:
it is indeed, very good.

well i was there... it was on the shelf... all shiny and only 4000 yen.... with little comfy head phones... so i says lets see if steff knows whats up... and indeed you do... i was very please with myself the first time i made the flower bloom... i enjoy plugging it into the surround sound system and lyign on the floor and playing with it... also my GF and her friend both love it emensily probably more than I.
anyway, have played it fairly extensiv;ey i concur... it tis quit fancy... only complaint is i wish there was more plankton to choose from... as for the translating the game already has english in its menus... only the booklet would need translation... and it is a bit thick..... plus there is one game (thing) that i still dont understand how to work... but i quick trip to game faqs will mot likely fix that.

pick it up... if you liek this sort of thing.
TigerUppercut 22 Aug 2005 06:34
Congratulations! You have made a good purchase sir and yes, isn't it funny how much girls zero in on it? Erica was blown away by EP, as was I. Isn't the instruction booklet mysterious and frustratingly beautiful and Japanese? Which plankton don't you understand?

Edit: BTW, there are different leaf games - cycle through them using L or Select I think...
LUPOS 22 Aug 2005 11:19
TigerUppercut wrote:
Congratulations! You have made a good purchase sir and yes, isn't it funny how much girls zero in on it? Erica was blown away by EP, as was I. Isn't the instruction booklet mysterious and frustratingly beautiful and Japanese? Which plankton don't you understand?

i love the booklet and wish i coudl read it... i have a freind who is japanese so i will try and bug him to read soem of it to me, i dont think that hes up to translating the whole thign sadly.
the one i cant figure out is the four fish swiming right to left with the line that goes to whichever one you touch... all i can make it do is make a little staticy noise soemtimes...

Edit: BTW, there are different leaf games - cycle through them using L or Select I think...

thanks, i was wondering about that... i was doing the aduience mode and noticed the different configurations but didntknow how to get them.
TigerUppercut 22 Aug 2005 12:03
Ah yes. It's a sampler - first you record a sample then play it back through a load of different filters/effects! Each of the plankton makes a different effect.
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