Back in 2006, a talented and eccentric media artist named Toshio Iwai developed a very unique title for Nintendo's DS system that allowed the user to interact with various forms of plankton on both a visual and musical level. In fact, it was this combination that gave the game its unique feel and ultimately produced one of the more original playing experiences available on the system. While it didn't fare very well as a commercial proposition, it has gone on to garner quite a cult following among DS owners, even costing more now than it did when it was first released. Obviously Nintendo felt the game deserved another chance and has released the first five Electroplankton games from the retail release as individual DSiWare releases.
Electroplankton Nanocarp takes a more eccentric approach to its gameplay formula than the other releases in the series. In this game you'll have a group of sixteen plankton that will move into various formations. You can cause them to move into these formations by making various noises into the DS microphone. Everything from claps to blowing and singing into the microphone all have varying effects on the plankton that are swimming around. As these plankton move around you can even use the D-Pad to create waves in four different directions that strum the plankton while they swim and produce a unique chorus of musical notes. You can even get creative and tap the touchscreen with your stylus to make smaller circular waves that also bring out various sound effects from the plankton. And if you feel like being a bit less involved or don't feel like making noises into the microphone, you can always just hit the SELECT button to move the plankton around into different formations. How much involvement you have is strictly up to you.
While the play control system in Nanocarp is similar in style to the other Electroplankton titles, it's also a much more relaxing atmosphere and is very easy to get caught up in the hypnotic movements and sound effects going on around you. But much like Hanenbow, it's also an experience that tends to grow stale more quickly than you'd like it to. If you're looking for a quick fix of some relaxing and simple gameplay, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more soothing experience than this one if you can overlook the slightly repetitive nature of the experience.
From a musical and visual standpoint you have to appreciate what the developers have accomplished with the Electroplankton releases. The individual graphical elements might be very basic and simple in design, but the way they move around and the way they interact with the stylus gives the game a very unique feeling of everything being alive onscreen. Even the bubbles that flow up through the water add yet another relaxing elements to the game's visual presentation. Couple all of this with the ability to manipulate the chorus of notes via waves and you have what is one of the more unique audio/visual experiences available for the system.
Electroplankton Nanocarp is certainly one of the more unique experiences of the series, and while it does offer a nice alternative to your normal gaming routines, it just feels a little empty when it's made available as a solo release. It's one thing to have all of these titles in a package deal, but even at 200 Nintendo Points, it just feels a little bare as a single release. If you've really enjoyed any of the other Electroplankton releases, this one is definitely one you might want to consider, but it's a lot like the other releases in the way that it will likely appeal more to some than it will to others.