Music On: Learning Piano Volume 2 Review
Posted by Corbie Dillard
Beautiful harmony or sour note?
Abylight has already released seven Music On titles for the DSiWare service that teach basic instruction for such musical instruments as the keyboard and the guitar. While the Spanish studio has already released one title covering the piano, it's obviously decided that the instrument needed a follow-up with the release of Music On: Learning Piano Volume 2. Although this additional volume doesn't do anything radically different, it does feature a more challenging selection of musical compositions to tackle.
You won't get a lot of tutorial or instruction when you begin the game, but in reality there's not much need for it given the simplicity of the gameplay system. When you begin, you're given a small list of classical music selections to choose from, each featuring three medal levels of varying difficulty. Using the stylus, you basically play along to the notes being displayed on the top screen using the piano keyboard on the touchscreen below. The key that you need to play will quickly light up giving you and indication of the note you need to play, but the challenge comes in being able to accurately play not only the correct notes, but play them at the right tempo as well.
Once you've completed the selection, you'll be given a percentage grade based upon your performance. If you're able to get a high enough percentage, you'll unlock one of the higher medal levels that are even more challenging. You'll also unlock new musical compositions as you rack up points. You'll soon find that the later tracks are downright sinister in difficulty, even on the bronze medal levels, so you'll definitely have to put in some practice time if you want to unlock all 15 tracks.
There's something refreshing about the game's simplicity that makes it fun and accessible for people of all musical skill levels. While you're probably not going to learn to play the piano from the experience, you will be able to get a basic idea of how the instrument functions and do so while tackling an enjoyable music-rhythm challenge.
Given that the entire visual package is built around musical staves and a piano keyboard, there's not a lot of visual diversity to be found, but that didn't stop the developers from putting together a very polished graphical presentation. Both the sheet music and the piano keyboard show a good amount of detail and while the overall colour palette is a bit dark, it works quite well in highlighting the parts of the game you'll spend the majority of your time focusing on.
What you get out of the musical portion of the game will depend heavily on your love, or lack thereof, of classical music. There are some amazing musical compositions in the game that are played out with a surprisingly high level of audio quality, especially given the file size restriction and obvious compression of the various tracks.
Abylight's dedication to bringing the exciting world of music to gamers via DSiWare is commendable, and while Music On: Learning Piano Volume 2 isn't going to teach much more than a very basic understanding of the piano, it does offer up some amazing musical pieces and a fun way to feel a part of performing them. If you enjoyed the original release, you'll definitely want to check out this follow-up, but if you're just someone who's curious about the piano, you'd be far better off starting with the first volume.