Originally posted July 20th 2015 on the Seafoam Gaming forums
Title: KEYTARI: 8-bit Music Maker
System: Wii U (eShop)
Release date: 7/9/2015
The main game/story
In this handy application, you can create 8-bit retro music with a few instrumental styles to choose from! There technically is a story in the e-manual, but it isn’t of any importance to this game.
The keyboard designs look nice and fit the retro style of this game just fine thanks to it using numerous NES palettes, but that’s pretty much all you’re going to see due to the lack of any menus whatsoever. Still, the variety of colors and options available for the keyboard is a nice thing to see.
Music and Sound:
Since this app revolves around music (Similar to KORG DSN-12) it’s to be expected that it offers a nice variety to create and mess around with. Well, it does indeed come with different styles of NES music, (That can be changed at any time, known as the “Lead”) so it’s far from limited and gets the job done in sounding like it should. There’s also multiple options for background noise (Known as the “Beat”) though depending on the theme you’re creating it’s sometimes best to just leave it off. Changing the Lead in the middle of playing a song is also rather tricky due to how different each of them sound, so this app requires mastery to get the hang of.
Being a retro music application for $8, you expect it to have plenty of options for all kinds of music fans, due to how easy it is to use thanks to the Wii U Gamepad touch screen, but unfortunately that’s not exactly the case with this application. While you can choose from a variety of options as mentioned before, and while everything does sound 8-Bit like it should, there’s one major issue that completely baffles me.
The biggest missing thing from this application is a record feature of some kind. While I don’t expect online sharing, editing or anything of that magnitude from an application simply meant to play retro music, I do at least expect to be able to record a melody I play so I can have it be played back to show to my friends, but you can’t even do that, despite the fact that pressing the start button plays a recording of the main theme to this game with no issues! Yes, it’s true that real life instruments don’t come with a record button, but what most of them do come with are ways to write done notes on sheets to play back later, and this application doesn’t even do that. At the very least, it seems like there should have been an option to record tracks to play for later, as it’s inexcusable in an application like this. Even though the website for this game defends this decision by saying that it’s not a music composition software, it still is an inexcusable removed feature considering how much options you have when playing music, and the fact that there’s a saved song to begin with. This is the biggest problem with Keytari, as such a clever and fun idea could have been much better if we had an option to record whatever we were playing for personal use later, to impress your friends and family with what you could do. I understand that this definitely wasn’t meant to be a competitor to KORG, but saving is a basic feature any digital music player should have, regardless of purpose.
In conclusion, KEYTARI is a lot of fun to mess around with, as you can make numerous simple melodies for fun, and use hints in the manual to discover a fun secret. However the lack of any sort of saving feature, even for your own personal use is inexcusable, and for $8 it’s unfortunately rather overpriced for an application like this, especially when you could buy any NES Virtual Console game for a lower price and listen to classic music that way. If it goes on sale and you feel like it may be worth messing around with, then by all means go for it. For anyone else looking into this game wondering if it’s worth the same price as most Virtual Console games, however then I don’t recommend it. I give KEYTARI a 5 out of 10 and only recommend it when the price drops.