(DSiWare)

Game Review

Rhythm Core Alpha 2 Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Bring life back to music

Musicians both aspiring and experienced have had copious opportunities to break out into song with their DSi thanks to a cornucopia of software suites, including 2010's Rhythm Core Alpha that brought an emphasis on live performances to the table. Developer SoftEgg's sequel Rhythm Core Alpha 2 is the most advanced one yet to hit DSiWare, offering a number of additions, tweaks and improvements over its predecessor to give composers more control over their creations.

You wouldn't know it by just booting up the program, though: Rhythm Core Alpha 2's dense, somewhat dizzying interface is largely the same as its predecessor's. At the heart of the suite is the Block screen — the sequencer where you can lay down blocks of beats as easy as tapping out notes on the grid for a wide variety of instruments. Grid "blocks" default to 16 beats each but can be expanded to 64, and you can have up to 99 blocks in your track with which to go as crazy as you can. Each individual beat can be tweaked to get just the right sound you're looking for by fiddling with its key and velocity, and adjusting the overall tempo is a snap. It may look like a lot at once to someone unfamiliar with music production, but everything falls into place pretty quickly once you start to poke around; there is plenty of depth to be found the further down you drill.

SoftEgg has thoroughly combed through its suite to identify areas of improvement, and some of the tweaks are less overt than others. Vibrato, echo or portamento can now be added to individual tracks, and tracks and blocks can be renamed for convenient identification. Solo mode, where the touchscreen lays out scales of notes that can be played with a tap, gets a usability tweak that lights up notes played by the sequencer. Others are straight-up new features: The Mixer screen's 21 faders and 20 pan controls give great flexibility over the sound of individual tracks, and tapping "Drum" on the touchscreen's bottom navigation tab opens a 12-trigger electronic drum pad that further encourages free-form performing.

Rhythm Core Alpha 2's potentially most impressive addition is exporting a MIDI file of your creation to an SD card, which you can then use with other devices compatible with the format. No longer is it a concern that your magnum opus is trapped on a non-musical device with limited methods of distribution, eliminating the need to finagle a 3.5mm audio jack into your computer's microphone slot to share your creation with friends. It's somewhat ridiculous that this feature isn't standard across all DSiWare music software, but here we are. Export to MIDI isn't the only way to get your tunes off the device: options to export ASCII and binary exist, and Export Controls automatically saves the first 20 minutes of input for recording and exporting your performances. Individual blocks can be imported and exported as well.

Conclusion

It can't replace a studio-quality music suite, but Rhythm Core Alpha 2 is great for bouncing around ideas. Chipping away at its dense interface reveals a well-crafted and flexible tool for noodling around with new ideas or hunkering down for more serious work. Offering a high degree of freedom and control in not only the creation of a song but in what to do with it once written as well, Rhythm Core Alpha 2 is quite possibly the most complete music package on DSiWare.

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User Comments (21)

Undead_terror

#1

Undead_terror said:

Good review Jon and it's nice to see the game...I mean app did well.
(Looks at trailer) nothing like having a anime babe to sell the app...wait she's not the one playing the music :(

SmaMan

#5

SmaMan said:

Dammit! I just got the first one! And this one looks so much better...

Kaze_Memaryu

#7

Kaze_Memaryu said:

Looks pretty good for a music app - especially considering these half-assed attempts we got yet!
Also.... MIDI SOUND!!!

stipey

#12

stipey said:

@schoolhouserox This is really cool! How does the software work for playing live like you are? Changing between sections etc?

EDIT: I mean, if you played what you've done here live.

schoolhouserox

#13

schoolhouserox said:

you can change patterns and keys using the button on the dpad and abxy buttons. you can change tempo on the fly AND mix and solo parts THEN you can also record and overdub parts. soooo you can do a TON live. especially if you have prior music knowledge.

CrazyOtto

#15

CrazyOtto said:

The man that developed Rhythm Core Alpha 2 actually performed some of his own musical creations at the Namco Bandai booth of the San Diego Comic Con today.

Shane904

#16

Shane904 said:

Pretty epic. I've spoken to the developer himself for support for the first RCA - very helpful, and very nice. $10 feels a little on the high side, considering I can pick up Korg-10 used for half the price. I might get this if there happens to be a sale.

Also, that video... I'm dying of laughter.

SoftEgg

#17

SoftEgg said:

@Shane904 Hey, I worked on the thing for 3 years, plus the 18 months that went into RCa1. I think it is probably worth a lot more than $10, especially considering what some other companies are charging...
I'm glad that you liked the video! The video was supplied by Lucky Button Pusher in Germany, who also supplied us with 5 demo songs AND translated the German product text and manual! He is an amazing fellow and we are very grateful for all of the work he has done and continues to do for us! I'm also grateful to Vance Hill for helping to edit the video (we added some additional product footage).

SoftEgg

#18

SoftEgg said:

@jkvasn It has a nice sound library, but I think my program is better in a lot of ways. For one, RCa2 is 1/3rd the price.

Shane904

#19

Shane904 said:

@SoftEgg I just meant in comparison. I'm a developer too, and I can imagine how much work went into it! Do you plan on keeping RCa in the DSiWare store too? And why not call it Rhythm Core Beta =P

defrb

#20

defrb said:

Is this comming to europe?, i will gladly pay 10 euro's ^^
the midi transport function makes this an awesome music creation tool for on my vacation ;)

defrb

#21

defrb said:

great, its comming to the eshop, will definitly support your work ^^ your midi tansport function is ace :P

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