The original Rytmik completely surpassed our expectations of what a portable music studio could do within the constraints of DSiWare. Now the follow-up Rytmik: Rock Edition is here with a very different sound and new features, but crucially more of the same surprising control and musical freedom.
If you haven’t dabbled with Rytmik yet, it’s a music studio that lets you create your own musical masterpieces from scratch. Although you can piece together songs from predetermined loops, the real creativity comes from using the samples included to make something completely new.
Though the initial interface looks daunting, everything soon becomes clear. Along the bottom is a timeline onto which you can drag clips you’ve created or preset samples included in the bank. At first it’s recommended to make music using the prepackaged samples and then jump into the clip editor once you’ve familiarised yourself with the song edit screen.
Here, you can really let your creativity run riot. As the Rock Edition name suggests, the sounds available here are far from the dance roots of the original Rytmik: it’s all heavy kick drums, electric guitars and slap bass. Overall the quality is surprisingly good, even when played through speakers or headphones, though some samples are naturally better than others. In the clip editor you can create any melody you can imagine using the sounds on offer, and with four channels to a clip and four clips playing at any one time, you won’t have to settle for a simple production: you can build really complex pieces if you have the time and skill.
This isn’t just a Rytmik rehash with a different sound palette, though, with Rock Edition introducing a few welcome new features. The most useful of these is the Vari tool that lets you set up multiple voices from the same instrument category in one channel, meaning that you can have a single channel containing different bass sounds, for example. The usefulness of this reveals itself overtime, lending a touch of individuality to your basslines and rhythms whilst making the process just a bit easier.
There are new features to alter the sound on a wider scale too, with varying degrees of polyphony making it easier to extend the length of your notes, a criticism of the first title from many users. Now you can allow notes to overlap until all the sound channels have been utilised, which helps to create a big rock sound, as does the introduction of variable chorus settings alongside the delay and panning from the previous game.
However, all these settings have to be made for each individual clip, with no way to set them globally. This is understandable though considering Rytmik sets out to give you total control over your music, and when copying clips your settings duplicate too, so you needn’t set every slider for each individual clip, happily.
Whilst the sounds do a commendable job of allowing you to create that stadium rock masterpiece you’ve always imagined, the subject matter doesn’t sit quite as neatly in this portable package as Rytmik’s dance offering did. Rock music doesn’t lend itself to such intricate clip-aligning as more electronic genres, and although the sound is big enough to give you that thrill of creating a big rock number it’s still hard to shake the feeling that rock music doesn’t suit this shrunken-down studio as well as the dance sounds did.
Sadly there’s still no option to export your music easily, so users hoping to put their tunes on an SD card or upload them elsewhere will be sorely disappointed. It’s still possible to connect your DSi to a computer and record that way – see our feature here for more information. A more streamlined solution would still have been preferable, though with Nintendo’s strict limitations on SD card use, we don’t expect to see this feature implemented in future.
Rytmik: Rock Edition is every bit as solid as its predecessor. The sound quality is higher than we’d expected, particularly with the new settings available, and just setting up clips is endlessly fascinating, playing about with melody and sound even if you don't really want to create a song. If you yearn to create a great rock track on the go, Rytmik: Rock Edition is guaranteed to bring you satisfaction.