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For: iPhone

A touch of music goes a long way

Product: synthPond | Developer: Zach Gage | Format: iPhone | Genre: Music/ Rhythm | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 2.0.2, 2.0.2
synthPond iPhone, thumbnail 1
It's been a long time since I could accurately describe myself as musical. Don't get me wrong – I love music and spend far too much of my wages on iTunes on a daily basis, but I'm not especially good at making it myself.

Fortunately, synthPond makes composing even the most delicate of tunes very simple. Anyone can dive into this unique synthesizer and have fun creating tunes without a lesson in music theory.

In essence, you place little gems of sound (otherwise known as nodes) on a body of water to generate ripples. These pulse through said gems to create a gentle torrent of music that repeats itself over and over again.

You can either plan your tunes by placing nodes with precision and moving them accordingly to create the sound you want, or you can go finger-mad, dropping nodes here there and everywhere and marvel at the result.

There are four types of nodes you can place, distinguished in two set categories: two of the nodes create the waves that power and then bounce back off the other two nodes. Taking the form of multi-ringed circles, the speed affecting nodes push out the ripples - one once per beat, the other every other beat.

These ripples then ring a sound out of the two kinds of 'reactors' (shown as squares), which in turn also release waves on impact.

You end up seeing a lot of waves going in all directions, triggering sounds wherever you've placed nodes. The nodes themselves can be altered once placed, switching their type and even their pitch.

In fact, every aspect of the nodes and the sound they emit – either individually or collectively – can be shifted, meaning it's possible to create an attractive and personal tune, altering it as you go to create something quite special.

You can also add effects (such as 3D or 4D sound), which doesn't change the notes or the order they're played, but simply the strength and application of them. It enables you to turn a set tune on its head, bringing out a softer side in what might initially seem a quite plain little ditty.

The beauty is, with all these different factors it's possible to endlessly twiddle away with any tune you happen upon, making subtle changes here and there, trying to reach a perfection that probably doesn't exist.

All of the tunes can be saved, meaning there's no limit to the time you can spend on tweaking your creations. Additionally, the flexibility of the format means that updates down the road could add to what is already an alluring package.

How about bringing in some kind of alarm system, for instance, where your songs can be used to wake you calmly at a certain time? Or how about extending the kind of flexibility given to the sound of synthPond to its visuals, allowing you to alter how your nodes react on screen when hit by a wave of sound?

That's not to say that the title's visuals actually need any altering – synthPond is among the most stylish games available on the App Store to date.

It isn't without peer, though, even if most of them, such as DS hit Electroplankton, are on other formats. Unlike its rivals, synthPond could actually run and run and, much like the tunes it gives life to, it has the potential to be something very special.
Reviewer photo
Keith Andrew | 6 January 2009
synthPond is a music creation tool that is perfect for those who know what they're doing, and just as rewarding for those who have no idea but just fancy a play about
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