Easy Piano

8.0 Overall Score

Written by on May 3, 2010 in

Easy Piano, published by Valcon Studios, is an entertaining introduction to learning to play the piano.   The games gives players a bite-sized sample of the fun to be had on playing a real piano.  In the tradition of other musical instrument simulation games  (i.e. Rock Band) you won’t become a piano maestro but you will gain a basic understanding of the instrument.

About the game…

This is a game tuned to teach you the basics of playing the piano.  The game comes with a peripheral one octave keyboard that fits into the Gameboy Advance slot on the DS and DS Lite (sorry DSi owners).

There are three modes to get you started. The first is the Learning Mode which teaches you how to play. Through 10 short lessons and mini-games you learn the basics of how songs are put together and how they should be played. The Star Pianist Mode allows you to play full songs in several musical genres. You can play several pieces of Classical (like Ave Maria), Traditional (like Happy Birthday), Anthems (like the Star Spangled Banner), and Pop (like Material Girl). The last mode is the Creation Mode.  In Creation Mode you can create your own musical pieces.

Gameplay

I liked the different modes and you are taught quite a bit about the basics of reading music. The mini-games did little to support the lessons in my mind but they were an entertaining break between lessons. Completing a lesson unlocks the next one until all are available for you to use and also to refresh your memory as time goes on.   For many of the lessons you have the option of using either the peripheral or  a virtual keyboard on the screen.  I found this helpful for those of us that play on the go and might find it a bit awkward to use the peripheral.   The keyboard itself is a micro-sized piano keyboard that some may find a little small but it is a fun addition to the game.  The peripheral helps make you understand, in some small way, the dynamics of playing an actual piano.

The Star Pianist Mode allows you to play the different styles of music using the peripheral or the virtual keyboard in beginner mode or an advanced mode.   I have to admit the learning curve between the two seems pretty large so most will probably want to chose beginner mode at first. Each genre show the virtual pianist at a different type of piano and on a different type of stage to fit the musical style. I am slightly confused why the grand piano complete with candles is with the Tradition music while Classical has an upright style of piano.

The most fun I had with this game was in the Creator Mode. They have set up this mode to allow those without musical experience to use the beginner mode to set up a tune using over-simplified musical notes. They also provide an advanced mode that allows you to set up the score using actual notes (eighth, quart, half and whole notes).   In advanced mode you place the note on the staff bar and the game calculates the type of ‘rests’ that need to fill the rest of the bar. In both modes you have the ability to copy a bar you have created, change the speed and the instrument sound (saxophone, guitar, trumpet, and violin). You are able to use the peripheral keyboard to add notes, se the virtual keyboard, or drag and drop notes from the lower menu to the musical staff above.

Wish list

Here is what I would have liked to see in this game:

– Better explanation of the mini-game objectives. I had the hardest time figuring out what I was supposed to do and how. It made it very hard to enjoy these activities. They allow you to come back and play the mini games you have unlocked at a later date but I have to admit I did not find the need to go back to them.

– Better explanation of the Creation Mode. I was able to muddle through and eventually understand the Creation mode but there seemed to be a lot left to your own exploration as far as how you needed to set up the musical piece. It may be the only way to do it and not overwhelm the user with too many words? Perhaps an optional ‘Advanced tutorial’ could allow those of us who want some more information to get it.

– Make the intro interface a bit more user friendly. I had to look at the manual to figure out where to tap to get into each mode in this game. It might be the fault of my bad eyesight but more obvious selection cues would be helpful. Perhaps casting the rest of the environment in a darker light and highlighting the tap-able areas?

– Make the instrument sounds a bit nicer. The sounds other than the default piano are a little on the squawky side. I would like them to sound more like the instruments they are supposed to represent.

Overall

This game may not make you the maestro you dream to be but it is a fun introduction to piano playing. It gives you the basics and may tempt you to go further and learn more outside of the game. The basic setup is solid and the flexibility of controls allows you to play a variety of ways.  If you are looking for a simple way to understand the piano I would recommend this game.

Married Gamers Grading Score: B-

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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

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