Electroplankton is a Nintendo DS application (not a game!) that was created by Nintendo in conjunction with media artist Toshio Iwai. It is a fairly revolutionary kind of application for a game system that would not be possible if it were not for the unique capabilities for interaction that the Nintendo DS has. The overall usage of Electroplankton is straightforward: you control what types of sounds the program creates based on your interaction with 12 different creatures, aptly called Electroplankton. There is no progression, score, or story at all. There's no built-in way to record your beautiful music either, but you can always record with the 3.5mm audio output on the DS if you're feeling creative.
The Japanese version of Electroplankton comes in a shiny blue oversized box with a short information blurb about the game on the back, along with lots of white bubbles. Upon opening the box, you can take out the cardboard divider-cum-compartment and a normal-sized DS game case. The cardboard compartment has a pair of blue transparent earbuds that come in vacuum-sealed plastic wrap. I personally have not opened my set, but others who have report medeocre quality, as you should expect. The game box's exterior is of the same shiny blue colour, and inside there are the typical DS slots ( a slot on the top for a GBA-sized cart and a slot in the middle of the box for the DS slot ). The version for sale in the rest of the world doesn't include earbuds or fancy oversized packaging, unfortunately; it's just a regular game case.
When the DS is powered on with the Electroplankton DS cart inserted, on the main menu there is an Electroplankton icon, the english text ELECTROPLANKTON, katakana underneath it that can be romanized to EREKUTOPURANKUTON, and Nintendo under that. After launching the program, the top screen displays the Electroplankton english and katakana, etc., and the bottom screen has PERFORMANCE mode and AUDIENCE mode buttons.
PERFORMANCE mode is the main draw of Electroplankton: this is where the majority of the time with Electroplankton is spent. After tapping PERFORMANCE mode, you get to a menu of sorts with a number, a katakana name, an english name, and a katakana description on the top screen, and an animated picture and a row of dots that represent the seperate Electroplankton. The background looks like constantly moving bubbles that are floating their way to the top.
The different Electroplankton you can use are:
- Tracy - A triangular Electroplankton with fins that will follow lines drawn on the bottom screen with the stylus.
- Hanenbow - A circular Electroplankton with a tail resembling a rounded leaf that will shoot out from a special leaf protruding from the water, hitting and bouncing off of other leaves. You can control the angle of all the leaves with the stylus.
Luminaria - An Electroplankton shaped like two squares, with one rotated 45 degrees, on top of each other, Luminaria will move in the directions that you have rotated the on-screen arrows to.
Sun-Animalcule - This Electroplankton is shaped similar to a star burst, with the 'rays' constantly moving. You tap in various places to place Sun-Animalcules, and they play music intermittently. This one is a lot of fun— try pressing the D-pad, too!
Rec-Rec - This one, as it's name suggests, records sounds with the built-in microphone. More specifically, it can record 4 different sounds on top of one of several 'beats', which are rather crap.
Nanocarp - Nanocarp is a teardrop-shaped Electroplankton that reacts to touches with the stylus and sometimes emits 'ripples' of its own.
Lumiloop - Another circular Electroplankton, Lumiloop resembles a flattened, translucent doughnut. There are 5 Lumiloops on the screen at one time, and you can rotate them in either direction to make different sounds.
Marine-Snow - Despite the weird name, this Electroplankton bears the most resemblance to the sound of an actual instrument. You tap the different Electroplankton and they move to where you tap next, making different tones and types of sounds.
Beatnes - This is a strangely shaped Electroplankton, which can be best described as a triangle with a trail of 8 diamonds and 1 larger diamond as a tail. Background music from NES games plays in the background, and you can 'remix' them by adding sound effects that last for 4 'cycles' by tapping the diamonds of the tail.
Volvoice - With a teardrop-shaped body with a sort of a trail with a circle at the end of it, Volvoice looks similar to Nanocarp. You tap the body and then record sounds, which you can then distort with one of 16 filters.
The AUDIENCE mode is, quite simply, the DS playing music by itself. The Electroplankton modes can be changed with the L and R buttons, and all other non-tapping controls work as if in PERFORMANCE mode.