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Experimental Art/Music

Toshio Iwai - Nintendo



I certainly know how to pick them...
At the time I start writing this, I have no idea how I should start to explain what Electroplankton actually is, without making sound like something it isn't.
But I'll give it my best shot anyway. ;)

First off, as you might have already heard, Electroplankton isn't actually a game in the original context.
It's more like 10 mini-"games" or plankton that give you various means and possibilities to create sounds or music.

Now this certainly won't be a game for everybody, some will "get it", while others will completely miss the point or simple won't be able to enjoy it.
If you are at all interested in the possibilities of creating your own music in a very playful matter, or simply like to chill out while listening to interactive ambient sounds, then you will definitely find what you are looking for.

It's a game where if you take your time and put something in you will receive something in return, but if you simply glance over it, the game simply won't give anything back and you will be left thinking "is that all there is?".
So what you bring to it will determine the amount of fun you will have while playing around with it.

Like I said before, there are 10 plankton. Some are more game like, while others appear to be much more random and free flowing.
I'll try to give a feeling as to how each plankton works.

You have 4 different coloured plankton, which all stand for different tones.
Once you touch one, you can drag them along the screen any way you want.
This creates a line which that plankton will follow until you reset it or draw him a different line to follow.
You can draw straight or curved lines which loop in and out of each other and these will create different sounds accordingly.
The speed at which you draw the plankton's path will also determines the speed and tone the plankton will follow to recreate your drawing.

This one is actually very game like.
You start out with a number of leafs aligned in one of 4 different ways. (pressing Select brings up
another configuration)
You can align the leafs under any angle you like. A small pink plankton shoots up from the water through another leaf and when it touches another leaf it creates a sound depending on the angle it is shot at and the angle of the leaf it touches.
The plankton can bounce from one leaf to the next, thereby making various chords and loops.

You can also change the frequency of which the plankton appear by pressing left or right on the control pad. By pressing up, you can manually shoot plankton from the water too.

This one also has 4 different coloured plankton's. Each one moves over the screen at different speeds and can be guided by changing the directions of the arrows that are littered over the screen.
The arrows can be pointed in one of 8 directions, but can also left spinning by itself by pressing down on it for a couple of seconds.
The arrows can also be manipulated with the D-pad which changes them all at once.

This is a weird one... Well, they all are in fact. :) But still...
Time goes by from day to night and back again in a matter of minutes. When you touch the screen a plankton that resembles the sun or the moon appears depending if it's day or night.
You can drag the planktons to other places on the screen anyway you like. Depending on where the plankton is, it will emit a different sound.
The order in which you create plankton will determine the melody they create. After a certain amount of loops the plankton will disappear again, but during their lifetime they keep growing until they don't fit on the screen anymore.

When they emit a sound it resonates and sends waves towards nearby plankton which also reacts to the vibrations, creating new nuances in the sound they create.

One of the little tricks for this plankton is that you can speed up or slow down the time it takes to change from night to day or back again by pressing left or right on the D-pad.

This one is pretty straight forward.
You've got 4 fish shaped plankton swimming from right to left across the screen. Each of them can record about 5 seconds of sounds which it then will playback each time they restart their journey from right to left over the screen.
You can record anything you want, from your voice, to music samples, TV sounds...anything.

The background beat can be switched by pressing up or down and the speed of the plankton can be adjusted by pressing left or right, therefor changing the tones at which they will repeat your samples.

These are fun little creatures.
There are about 15 little plankton on the screen, which will chime every time they collide with a side of the screen.
If you touch them with the stylus, they will emit a sound as well, which creates a shock wave in the water and in it's turn creates sounds when touching other plankton in a chain reaction.
You can send horizontal or vertical waves through the screen by pressing the D-pad in various directions.

Interacting with the plankton can be done by not only touching them but also by singing to them, blowing on them or clapping in your hands.
The speed and rhythm of you claps will determine the shapes the plankton will assume. Same goes for which notes you sing to them in what order or in what way you blow on them.

Another weird one. Here you have 5 round plankton which you have to spin around to make sounds.
The sound each one emits varies and can be best described as acoustic tones I think. These tones will change depending on the intensity that you spin the plankton.
Spinning the the other way around makes them emit different sounds. When you stop spinning, the plankton will slowly spin out until it comes to a stop and stops making any noise.
These sounds can be seen by the wave they emit. If this comes into contact with another spinning plankton it resonates with that sound, thus creating a unique sound in the process.

This one looks very basic to me. You have 35 plankton on your screen which all have their own tone. If you touch one, it makes a sound, then when you touch the next one it changes positions with the last one you touched and so forth.
You can change the instruments the sounds are based on by pressing the select button. This will also slightly alter the appearance of these plankton.
The various instruments are: piano, orgen and xylophone.

This is one of my favorites.
The plankton here are snake shaped and each have a distinctive head. The music that plays is a loop of classic NES games. The 4 different stages are: Super Mario Brothers, パルテナの鏡(Kid Icarus), Famicom Collection and Robot.
You can switch between these tracks by pressing select.

Each string of plankton has its own sound, which can be played in different notes by touching the various parts of it's body. The sounds you make fit in well with the music that's already playing, and that way you can basically create your own real time remixes of classic Nintendo tracks.
The notes you touch continue to play for 5 loops before they disappear, allowing you to constantly change the rhythm and feel of the track that your playing too.

The speed of the tracks can be altered by pressing left or right on the D-pad.

This plankton does exactly what the name says. It records your voice and replays it.
The thing is that you can replay the sound you record in 16 distinct ways. Depending on what shape plankton you choose the sound will be replayed in a very high or low tone, speed up or extremely slowed down or even played backwards.

Hopefully I've been able to do this experience justice.
It's certainly unlike anything I've seen before. Perhaps it's not too for from the truth to say this could be described as the Mario Paint of music games times 10.
Like I said before, this title certainly isn't for everyone as I've noticed with my own eyes. But you can't truly rate it until you've experienced it for yourself.

If you find yourself turned off by the description, perhaps you're better of not trying. Although you won't know what you are missing.
On the other hand, if you find yourself drawn to the strange world of Electroplankton or are fascinated with experimenting with electronic music and sounds, by all means, don't pass up this title. :)

Andy De Wilde

Japanese - English