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Mini-Review: Electroplankton

by rawmeatcowboy
31 December 2005
GN 1.0 / 2.0


ds electroplankton logo 01

It’s been a long time coming hasn’t it. We have been hearing about Electroplankton since the first days of the DS. We tracked its progress through Japan, where it was released many months ago. Eager fans waited and waited to catch word of an American release. When that news finally hit, it wasn’t the happy day we all expected. Due to Electroplankton’s niche nature, Nintendo decided to give America the game in limited release. If you want Electroplankton on January 9th, you will have to hunt it down at the Nintendo World Store, or order it online. There is still the possibility that the game will be available at Target, and many of us are hoping for that. With all Nintendo has put us through, was Electroplankton worth the wait?

From the second I received my review copy of Electroplankton, I couldn’t wait to tear into the metallic colored box. I finally had the game I have been holding my breath for all these months. I popped the game into my DS, hooked the audio up to my speakers, and was fully ready to immerse myself in musical bliss. Little did I know just HOW much of a unique and enticing experience Electroplankton would be. I first started playing Electroplankton at five in the afternoon, and my DS was not turned off until after nine. The review copy was passed through many staff members hands…and no matter how long they spent with the game the decision was unaimous. Electroplankton is simply amazing.

Toshio Iwai is the brain behind Electroplankton. Mr. Iwai has numerous awards and accolades for his work that blends images with aural experiences. While I have not seen all that Mr. Iwai has to offer, it would be hard to argue against Electroplankton being his most immersive experience yet. At the start of Electroplankton you have 10 different Electroplankton species. Each of them offers up their own style of musical creation. For example, the Hanenbow Electroplankton live near sea weed formations. You can make them jump from seaweed leaf to leaf, and each time they hit one of the leaves it creates a tone. You have full control over each leaf on screen, and are able to rotate it to any degree. Every tiny adjustment made to each leaf creates a different tone. On top of that, the more times you hit a leaf in succession, a different instrument will be used to make the tone. MotherBrain spent over an hour on this feature alone…and she quit ONLY because we had company.

Another one of the Electroplankton species are called Volvoice. The Volvoice feed off of your voice until their stomachs are full. One you tap a Volvoice they will record anything you say for up to ten seconds. From that point on they will repeat what you said, and their mouths will mimic your words. While interacting with the Volvoice, each one will reproduce your voice in a different manner. Some will give you a high voice, some a low voice, and another will repeat what you said in reverse. I spent a lot of time laughing hysterically at how some of the Volvoice repeat your words back to you. I also was writing words down so that I could say them backwards, and then have the backwards repeating Volvoice say them fowards to me.

Electroplankton is THE most surreal experience I have ever had with a game. It is the most relaxing, yet stimulating experience on the DS, and in ANY game yet. The best part about the game is that you do not need ANY musical talent to enjoy it. Electroplankton functions in such a way that no matter what you try, or how you work with its options, you will come up with something that sounds beautiful. Electroplankton lulls you into an almost trance like state, and you become lost in the game. I would argue that Electroplankton shouldn’t be considered a game, it makes a far stronger argument as art. It isn’t about gameplay, it isn’t about the high scores, and it isn’t about anything else that games strive for today. Electroplankton is an experience…one you will not get from anything else. The simple yet elegant visual presentation combined with an extremely deep customizable audio presentation makes for something that has to be interacted with to believe.

The comments that I and fellow staff have made prove just how different and alluring this game is. MotherBrain found it as a great therapy tool. You have a rough day, you can come home, pop in some headphones, and chill out with Electroplankton. I found it a deeply relaxing experience. MotherBrain was playing with one of the other Electroplankton, Lumiloop, which produce soothing tones by spinning the circular bodies. The music slowly evolved into a beautiful experience that put me extremely at ease. I actually laid down on the couch and passed out for a good fifteen minutes. Nicky Hill and JohnTheSavage played the game for 5 minutes and were already singing its praises. Just a few minutes before writing this review, I had my DS hooked up to my computer speakers, and we were crying from laughing so hard at one of the songs we made.

If you are not open to new experiences, if you do not like games that do not have a clear goal, or if this game has not peaked your interest by now, then Electroplankton probably isn’t for you. For those of you who DO want something new and fresh, enjoy music, or a game that isn’t a game rather then an experience then you HAVE to hunt down a copy. The only downside I can see to Electroplankton is that it will not get the full scale release it deserves. The games as art debate has found its winning answer for our side…and it comes in a made up word….Electroplankton.

Electroplankton gets a 10 out of 10

(Trust me…Electroplankton deserves every one of those points, and I stand firmly by my decision)