Review: Rytmik Retrobits (DSiWare)

Bits of class

The original Rytmik sounded better than any DSiWare music studio deserved to, but follow-up Rytmik: Rock Edition fell a little short in offering a big stadium rock sound through Nintendo's little handheld. Keen to keep offering melody creation tools on DSiWare while embracing its limitations, Cinemax has now put together Rytmik: Retrobits, a package for those who remember when four simultaneous channels was a lot.

Like previous Rytmik releases, the amount of control here is what impresses most: you can create your own clips using over 180 samples, with everything from suitably crunchy bass to zippy synth lines. It's all faithful enough to the game's 16-bit inspirations that just hearing the right note in the right instrument is enough to remind you of a classic gaming tune and set you off on a perfect recreation.

That quest for perfection is both a blessing and a curse: committed producers can create incredible pieces, using the huge number of instruments and variables to tune and tweak the sound to get it just right. If you've got the patience and the right ear the scope is there, but it's a lengthy pursuit; casual musical doodling will only get you so far.

Cinemax has loaded the game with ten original tracks to listen and edit, proving immensely useful to those who like to delve into the music's guts to see how it works. Once you've created something you're proud of you can save it to system memory, with space for 255 individual songs — each with its own library of clips — letting you save revisions of songs as well as all-new ideas. As with previous releases though, due to DSiWare limitations there's no way to export the tracks to an SD card, so check out our Guide: How To Get Your Musical Creations Off Your DS for the information you need.

There's not a whole lot new here over and above previous releases, features-wise: there's a visualizer on the top screen during playback with 20 variations, but there's not much different in the actual music creation side of things. Of course, the sounds themselves are the new feature here, and Retrobits delivers: intentionally crackly voice samples sit next to sound effects that call to mind classic 90s platformers and adventure games.

Conclusion

Rytmik: Retrobits is a characteristically accomplished and versatile music package from Cinemax, switching its limited interpretations of analogue instruments for digital bleeps and bloops that will inspire gamers and musicians alike. It's not an easy piece of software to master though, and only the talented and committed will get the most out of it; for the rest, it's a musical memory lane dabbler at best.