Test drive Super Monkey Ball online

Posted by dkidwell on May 3rd, 2006 — Posted in console games, Electroplankton, Nintendo DS, parenting

Super Monkey Ball Mini at Sega.com is a nice flash version of the real deal. We’ve had many hours of family gaming with Super Monkey Ball on the Game Cube. We’ve even been known to host competitions with our friends. It’s a wonderful party game.

The family got me a version for the DS, and with any luck, I’ll have some time on the plane next week as I’m traveling to E3 to play it and whip out a review for it. Stay tuned…

Electroplankton Review

Posted by dkidwell on January 14th, 2006 — Posted in Electroplankton, Nintendo DS, parenting, reviews, technology

Electroplankton is a work of art. Clever, engaging, and very well designed.

You get 10 ‘plankton‘ that perform various types of musical composition. The plankton can be manipulated using the stylus in movements that created music, and each has a distinctly differently musical action. Some have predetermined musical tones, others can be recorded right through the DS (e.g., your voice, ambient sounds, actual musical instruments.)

The game has 2 modes: a perfomance mode where you conduct the plankton, and an audience mode where you can listen to pre-recorded music (you can engage and play along with them as well.)

You can listen to the plankton via the speakers on the DS, which sound reasonably good, or on headphones or external speakers.

We plugged it into the speakers for my iPod and lounged on the bed exploring the plankton’s sea. The sound was incredible – some of them could have easily lulled the kids to sleep. But don’t be fooled; it’s not a lethargic game at all. We each recorded a sound or tone into the “Rec Rec” plankton and listened to a family groove. Great fun.

My 6 year old spent about 2 hours completely immersed in the game. This isn’t a child that spends 2 hours doing any activity, if that’s any indication of the compelling nature of Electroplankton.

My daughter and I talked quite a bit about how the scale works, and sat with the keyboard to experiment with sounds and keep our own voices in key.

There seems to be some discrepancy over whether Electroplankton is a game or not. There is not a competitive model at all – no notion of players or pre-defined conditions for winning. In fact, the game doesn’t record or save your compositions.

But this adds an interesting element – if you want to reproduce your creation for someone, you will have to actually learn to play Electroplankton. That’s turned our Nintendo DS systems into veritable instruments.

We’re going to try and use the headphone jack to get the sounds onto the PC, where we could record them. Seems doable, and we’ll post the results once we’ve got it going.

For this gamermom, any device that plays both intelligent, well designed games and can be used to create creative music is well worth it!

unmediated: How to Start a Nintendo DS ElecktroPlankton Band

Posted by dkidwell on January 10th, 2006 — Posted in Electroplankton, interface design, Nintendo DS, technology

Ok – so one of the ways I’d define innovation (leave a comment with how you define it!) is evident in how your product pushes through the traditional demographics identified by your product marketing managers. They tell you something akin to “this device will sell to an older gamer demographic than our typical line, aged 15-35, and will be stronger with women.” Fine, if that was all the DS did it would be one thing, but no! Artists are blogging about creating real music with Electroplankton on the DS, and suggesting the game console as a tax deduction!

unmediated: How to Start a Nintendo DS ElecktroPlankton Band

That’s some mojo.

Gamermom Watch: Electroplankton

Posted by dkidwell on January 10th, 2006 — Posted in Electroplankton, interface design, Nintendo DS, reviews, technology

The DS has to be the most innovative device to come down the pike in a while – at this point, I’m willing to declare that it’s picked up the innovation torch from Apple’s Ipod (which, while it continues to innovate, is essentially the same device it was at launch in 2001.

Electroplankton is a brilliant piece of software that has done very well in Japan. It is positioned as a media art video game, and was developed by Toshio Iwai, who created SimTunes back in 1996. SimTunes was the first of it’s kind that I’d ever seen, and was quickly installed on every machine in the house. SimTunes allowed kids to paint with music – and Electroplankton looks to be an impressive evolution.

Currently, Electroplankton holds the interesting distinction of being one of the most imported games from Japan to the US. According to the official site, Iwai “packed Electroplankton with the memories of the four devices he loved growing up: a microscope, a tape recorder, a synthesizer, and an NES” It’s worth checking out the link just to hear what else he had to say – look under “About the Artist.”

The game was released here in the US on the 9th, but not to stores. You can only buy a copy online. As of this moment, Amazon has them in stock, but can’t promise delivery until March 26th! Gogamer.com doesn’t have it and EBGames lists it on back order. I ordered if directly from Nintendo an hour ago, but haven’t gotten tracking information yet. Here’s to hoping it arrives by the weekend!