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DS@10: Electroplankton

Electroplankton isn’t strictly a game.

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Electroplankton

DS at 10Electroplankton isn’t strictly a game.

Toshio Iwai—an interactive artist who specialises in sound and who also created the Yamaha Tenori-on— designed Electroplankton with some of his favourite pastimes in mind. As a child, Iwai owned a keyboard, microscope, tape-recorder and a Famicom (NES), which he melded together to form Electroplankton. You select either audience (to have the plankton perform for you) or performance (where you yourself perform interacting with the plankton) and then choose which plankton to play with. The charm of Electroplankton lies in its lack of any fluff that convolutes the experience.

In a real Nintendo fashion, Electroplankton doesn’t allow for any in game recording, as means to elevate the experience away from being a mere tool. As much as this would be a hindrance to some, it really isn’t that big of a deal since one could use a 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable to capture the sound into a music programme such as Audacity. All the plankton have a lot of personality expressed through their names, movements, music they produce and reactions to how you interact with them, which helps make Electroplankton feel alive and more than just a musical toy.

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Watching the Hanenbow bounce off leaves whilst punctuating the silence with their delicate, aural droplets is always rewarding. I played Mario Kart DS a lot more than Electroplankton in the long run, but the funny memories of recording a friends voice and using Volvoice to manipulate it, or reading the striking full-colour manual to find out all the commands to play with the Nanocarp, are priceless.

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Shaun is a writer, artist, and unholy devourer of pizza, but most importantly, he waits for Mother 3 in a state of cat-like readiness.