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Music on: Retro Keyboard - DSiWare App Review

Game Info
Music on: Retro Keyboard

DSiWare | Abylight | 1 Player | Out Now | 200 Nintendo Points
31st July 2010; By KnucklesSonic8

Music on: Retro Keyboard is the second title in Abylight's new set of music applications. Little has changed from the original release, but there's something about this one that makes it a tad better over its predecessor.

    The interface has seen little-to-no changes at all, but that's not a bad thing per se. After all, why mess with a good thing? The elegant simplicity and organization of the application is not only appealing, but it's easy for the average consumer to follow. Just like before, you'll be constantly switching the top and bottom screens to access different features.

    Nothing's been removed from the original release. You still have the ability to isolate certain parts of your song (such as the bass, or the sound effects), adjust tempo and assign chords with different definitions of sound. I appreciated the ability to adjust Modulation more in this application than I did before, simply because there's greater potential for nice-sounding notes. With this function active, sliding your stylus left and right whilst keeping a key held down will produce a special effect. And with certain combinations, the resulting noise can remind you of dungeons from classic RPG's and adventure games.

    Pre-made tracks return in this release, but rather than seeing some generic music themes, you have 5 different styles of retro-based BGM. The 'Classic Theme', for example, includes the nostalgic sound effects of collecting coins, swimming underwater and others. They're very pleasureable noises that anyone with a connection to older games will love. Don't be surprised if you find yourself just sitting there for a few minutes, admiring the different tunes without even interacting with the keyboard itself.

You also have more instruments to choose from, 16 to be exact. And all of them give the impressions that you're using a real-life synthesizer to record music for an old school game. The resulting sound effects and harmonies can call to mind bleeps from NES games, the funky feel from the Genesis age, and even the old tunes from classic MS-DOS programs. The entire app really takes you back, causing you to reminisce on retro games you may have grown up with in your childhood. Having the resources to create MIDI sound clips of your own boss song or a battle sequence is sure to bring a smile to your face. 

    Since little has changed, Retro Keyboard suffers from the same flaws as its predecessor. For one, you're still unable to name your creations, nor can you line them up in layers to produce enhancements. You also don't have the option to export your creations straight from the application. And my original suggestion of applying small labels to help you memorize key combinations (or even having a template for sheet music) still stands.

    Although there aren't any major improvements, Retro Keyboard's appeal and potential mark it a tad above its predecessor. The possibilities you can make using this application are much more uplifting, perhaps even more encouraging for those who don't have extensive experience with musical instruments. The throwback elements are great, evoking memories that will span multiple eras of gaming. This is definitely something you should feel comfortable spending $2 on.

23/30 - Good

Functionality 7/10 - No major changes, Modulation aspect sounds even better here, still unable to name, layer or export your creations
Presentation 8/10 - Looks very classy, functions are well-organized like before, really nice instrument variety and pre-made musical accompaniments
Lasting Appeal 4/5 - Arguably will see more use than the original release, anyone with a background in games will appreciate what you can do with this
Value 4/5 - Only 200 Points, can re-create retro BGM or even make your own, full of nostalgia that draws you in, nice way to unwind for a few minutes

Equivalent to a score of 77% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Review by KnucklesSonic8

Music on: Retro Keyboard
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