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Games about the same difficulty:
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Easy Piano DS recreated a Bontempi keyboard moment from my youth - the blossoming realisation that music isn't as hard as it looks. Easy Piano on the Nintendo DS is easier than Guitar Hero and DJ Hero whilst avoiding descending into the pseudo music stylings of Wii-Music.
Rhythm action games combine the enjoyment that comes from creating music with the challenge of video game scoring. The player is usually tasked with dancing on a mat, tapping a touch screen, pressing a button, singing into a mic or strumming a fake guitar controller in time with the music.
Easy Piano comes pact with a miniature keyboard that plugs into the GBA slot of your DS - making this aspect of the game incompatible and not suitable for the DSi because it doesn't have a GBA slot. The piano is surprisingly well built and incorporates a stand for both it and the DS. Place the pair on a table and you are all set to learn some 'piano-ing'.
The game itself is not a million miles away from the usual rhythm action genre. The main game seats you at a virtual piano and notes scroll across the lower screen. You score points by pressing the correct note on the Piano peripheral at the right time.
Simplicity is the key here. Even very young and novice players can get started. Early songs only have them hitting a note every few seconds. There are also some colour coded stickers to put on the notes to help them identify which is which - something that reminded me of piano lessons from my youth.
As players progress they are granted access to more songs, outfits and locations. The aesthetic is more towards the classical pianist than the rock style of Guitar Hero or Rockband.
Players will be attracted to this as another in a long line of peripheral lead rhythm action games. The plastic Piano itself actually turns out to be a real asset to the experience and asks the question, why have we note seen a Piano Hero game yet on the consoles - won't be long I'm sure.
My six year old daughter took to this immediately and was able to complete a number of the easier song. She really enjoyed reading the on screen note and translating it to the plug-in keyboard. Previous attempts at Elite Beat Agents proved too taxing and high impact for her. And Wii-Music had failed in the opposite direction - not providing enough of a challenge to keep her on board.
The simple task of translating the musical score to the keyboard to produce music is one that genuinely mirrors proper playing and develops a skill that is useful once the game is completed.
The songs only last a few minutes each, and although you may want to play a few in a row to warm up you can take a break and save progress at any stage.
There are enough songs, outfits and minigames included here to keep most gamers engaged for a good 15 hours.
Novices (Toddlers and Juniors): Easy Piano really is easy. Novice players and budding musicians will find this a genuinely useful step towards playing properly.
Intermediates (Parents and Seniors): Those with a little more gaming and musical skill will find enough here to stretch them as the difficulty increases. The novelty of the Piano keeps the game fun - and is missed on the DSi where you have to just use the touch screen.
Experts (Students and Workers): Gamers who have a lot of experience with rhythm action games may find this a little tame. They would find more of a challenge with the excellent Elite Beat Agents or RPG/Rhythm Action mix of The World Ends with You.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
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