Imaginstruments Vita App Review


Imaginstruments Vita App Review

Sony’s struggling handheld, the PlayStation Vita, has lackluster sales for a very good reason; it has immense competition.  No, seriously.  It competes with the hundreds of thousands of mobile apps put out by Android, Amazon, and Apple, many of which come with outstanding production value and the unbeatable entry price of ‘free’.

In an attempt to combat this, Sony has started to feature free-to-play titles, bite-size PlayStation Minis, and even specific applications for the Vita.  The apps on the PlayStation Store’s Vita channel, however, are scarce, and mostly focus on music, television, or other forms of entertainment.  Imaginstruments may be listed under the apps instead of the free-to-play category, but it caters to the true casual, mobile gaming audience – for better or worse.

(Editor’s Note: Because Imaginstruments is considered an app rather than a conventional Vita game, this review may differ from the normal SpawnFirst format)

Yup, this is basically the entirety of Imaginstruments, summed up in one screenshot.

When starting Imaginstruments, you’ll be given a quick overview of the controls, warned of epilepsy and seizures, and then you’re thrust into the game, free to let your inner Mozart roam. That wasn’t an oversimplification, either; getting into the music-making portion of the app is a quick, painless, and simple process.

Simplicity, as a matter of fact, is undoubtedly what developer Sanuk Games was striving to achieve.  Designed as a game that anybody can pick up and play, the controls and plain user interface are intuitive and easy to understand.  Using the touch screen, you can easily set up an orchestra of drums, cymbals, and melodic keyboards.  Adjusting a slider on each instrument changes its rhythm and overall musical output, and all six instruments also come equipped with two distinct sounds to switch between.  Potentially, there are hundreds of combinations waiting for you to explore.

But this is essentially where all of the (admittedly shallow) depth ends.  The tempo and scale can be changed in the options menu, you can alter the key of the keyboard, and a relatively annoying bass can buzz in the background, but those are your main options.  Most compositions end up boiling down to a rehash of previous iterations I’d invented, and the electronic sound effects started to burn out my ear drums five minutes into the game.

Simplicity is definitely key in this free title, because you get what you pay for.  Satisfaction of creating a catchy piece is quickly wiped away by the repetitive and headache-enducing sounds.  The lack of depth is unnecessary; a ‘simple’ and ‘advanced’ mode for casual composers and Beethoven’s respectively would’ve been a welcome addition, and the absence of being able to save your creations is disappointing.  If there is a positive to take away here, though, it’s that Sony’s escapade into the free app market is a concentrated effort, and it has me genuinely interested in the Vita’s casual-game future.

Score: 6.7/10