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Electroplankton Sun-Animalcule - DSiWare Review

Game Info
Electroplankton Sun-Animalcule

DSiWare | Nintendo | 1 Player 
| Out Now | 200 Nintendo Points
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16th April 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Earlier this year, Nintendo released 10 Electroplankton titles to the DSiWare service. Originally part of the DS game with the same name, Big N ultimately decided to split each Electroplankton in the game into a separate release, costing 200 points a pop. This was a great idea since it allows interested persons to pick and choose the best of the bunch and pass on the rest without having to buy them all in a pack of sorts. In 'Sun-Animalcule', you can create a sequence of sounds by placing eggs, and watching them live out their life cycle. It's not the most memorable release, but Electroplankton 
 is far from a weak effort.

    Under Performance Mode, you'll be introduced to stunning red-orange colours which serve as a background to your planting area. You can plant eggs in the water with a simple tap of your stylus or drag ones that have already been placed to move them to a different area. As they grow, they'll begin to shine radiantly and give off different sounds every few seconds. They'll simply continue to grow until they fill a large portion of the screen and disappear, indicating their life course has come to a completion. If you feel so inclined, you can kill them off early with a simple tap, or collectively with the Select Button. You can control the isolated camera on the top screen, by using the X and Y Buttons to zoom in and out, respectively.

    The placement of these ambitious creatures dictates the pitch, the tone, and the instrument that will be used as they emit sounds into the air. The farther left you are, the lower the pitch, while moving towards the right side of the screen will grant you a higher pitch. Studying the area in more detail will enable you to produce sounds that are harmonious and well put together. For example, the top right-hand corner of the screen will create sounds that may remind you of excited stars in the sky. The top-left will result in fast strums of what appears to be a stringed instrument with a deep pitch. And the bottom-left of the screen will emit noises belonging to a steel drum, complete with some echoing effects as you move towards the middle. The game allows you to have up to 30 different plankton on the field at any given time, so there's plenty of room for you to experiment and let your creativity loose.

    You'll quickly observe how the effects of the sun-shaped creatures have a tropical feel to them. Overlaying creatures on top of each other can create sounds with a bigger volume that can help balance low- or high-pitched noises sitting in the corner. Placing them in a slightly-organized fashion -- that is, in a cluster, in a ring, or in a line -- can produce some nice effects as well. Rather than laying eggs down randomly, wise placement will give your sounds direction, instead of appearing disjointed. And of course, taking into consideration the measure and consistency at which sounds are made will help you do just that.

A day in this game typically lasts 5 minutes long, but you can either prolong or advance the duration with the Left and Right Buttons on the D-Pad, respectively. Smooth colour transitions in the background will signify the changes between night and day, so you'll always know what's going on. Once the 
 have had their turn, night will descend and new creatures will appear (the Falcato). These creatures look like crescent moons, and the sounds they make are much more tame, represented by circular rings. These tend to serve as a nice change of pace from the normal daytime action, albeit they're not as impressive. The areas where you place eggs on the screen still relate to the kinds of noises that will come forth. But once again, there's room for the player to experiment and determine that out for themselves.

    In Audience Mode, the game will place eggs for you automatically to establish a rhythm sequence that's relatively observable. This mode gives you more structure to work with, but you can still move creatures around to make changes to the existing melody. Less input is more in this case, and if you plan carefully, the noises that are produced can go fairly well with the eggs that you add on your own. The nighttime effects sound a bit more pretty in this mode, with a stronger presence of harp strums and soft sounds. Rather than having a smooth transition from day to night, the screen will fade to black once the time of day has ended and move onto the next. It's pretty involved in terms of what you can do with this part of the game, but it's easy to turn a nice-sounding melody into something that doesn't sound well thought-out.

    The biggest complaint about the Electroplankton titles is that you're not able to save your compositions at all. It would've been nice if Nintendo added this feature, even though each title is pretty much the same as it was on the DS release (save for a few name changes). Still, there are other ways to record a musical masterpiece that you quite like in any of the Electroplankton titles, such as using a jack that connects from the DS to your PC. It's just that it would've been nice if Nintendo added that in for convenience sake.

    This Electroplankton release features some nice Carribean-inspired sounds that will be appreciated by a select few. The daytime-nighttime changes are nice in keeping with a steady pace and they add a bit of variety as well. There's room for player experimentation as you try to determine how hotspots on the screen relate to the sounds that the creatures produce. It feels like a bit of a novelty and it will wear off after a few minutes, but it's a nice companion piece to the wintery sounds from Marine-Crystals. Electroplankton 
 isn't quite as impressive as some of the other releases, but if you've never experienced it before, this isn't one to disregard either. 

21/30 - Good

Functionality 8/10 - 
Sounds are formed depending on where the creatures are placed, nice planting concept, two types of plankton to interact with
Presentation 8/10 - 
Bright backgrounds, tropical feel, colour transitions signify changes in the time of day, neat to watch the creatures grow
Lasting Appeal 2/5 - 
Good for a few minutes at a time, wears off a bit faster than the other releases, Audience Mode is a bit more structured
Value 3/5 - 
Reasonable asking price, nice change if you enjoyed Marine-Crystals, may not return to it that much, can't save your work

Equivalent to a score of 70% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Electroplankton Sun-Animalcule
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Review by KnucklesSonic8  |  How we rate games

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