March 19, 2006

[i]Electroplankton[/i] is a game that suffers from too much innovation. It’s always nice to see video games utilizing new and innovative features, and we all know this industry needs more of it. However, it is a step backwards when developers place all their time into innovation and completely bypass game play. It’s a shame too, because [i]Electroplankton[/i] uses the features of the DS to their full capabilities to create some very artistic imagery and vibrant music. The problem is that [i]Electroplankton[/i] only lasts as far as your imagination can take you. Those without an artistic mindset will lose interest very quickly, and even with a vibrant imagination, you might not last very long.

The basic premise to [i]Electroplankton[/i] is that the player uses the touch screen and microphone of the DS to manipulate tiny plankton. There are ten mini-games to choose from, each having different ways of making music. One game, for example, has you creating lines for the different plankton to swim along, creating music in the process, while another uses microphone speech to create different lines of sound effects, essentially mixing your own sounds together to make music. All of this is accompanied by brilliant colors, making this game a treat for the eyes and the ears. Calling [i]Electroplankton[/i] a game, though, is saying a bit much, as there is no real apparent goal to be found, and once you’ve explored the ten mini-games, all that’s left is to go back and explore them again.

To its credit, the game utilizes the features of the Nintendo DS almost as well as a game like [i]Nintendogs[/i]. All of the different mini-games vary in terms of usage of the touch screen and microphone, and include tracing lines, rearranging the leaves of a tree, voice manipulation, and a lot more. There just isn’t any game play to back up the different game modes and once you’ve manipulated your voice in sixteen different wavelengths, the only thing to do is go back and do it again. The developers could have added some kind of recording to at least save your musical creations, but there isn’t much incentive to making intricate music patterns only to lose them as soon as you back out of a game mode. There is an audience mode that lets you listen to music recorded by the developers, but that only adds further questions as to why they didn’t insert a record option.

[i]Electroplankton[/i] presents itself very well. Animations are very fluid and the colors really jump out as you manipulate the plankton. The plankton themselves seem to resemble everything from fish to tadpoles to microscopic cells, and each plankton in the different game modes have unique sounds to them. It would have been nice to have a way to combine the different plankton to create some truly creative (or defunct depending on your musical sense) pieces of music, but you are pretty much limited to using a single type of plankton to each game mode. [i]Electroplankton[/i] is probably one of the most visually appealing games found on the DS, but unfortunately, that doesn’t make up for the lack of game play.

It is really hard to give [i]Electroplankton[/i] such a low grade, because it really is a great and innovative idea. In the end though, the absence of any game play whatsoever makes this game hard to recommend and very hard to justify the spending of thirty dollars on. I even have a hard time recommending it for a rental, because I had pretty much played the whole thing in less than thirty minutes. People with creative imaginations may find a worthy title to add to their library in [i]Electroplankton[/i], but even then the developers could have added in a little bit more into the game, such as the aforementioned recording option. [i]Electroplankton[/i] is a good experiment, but it clearly shows us that innovation must find a balance with game play, and without the game play, this game has more value as a novelty item than a video game.

Score: 1/5

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