Isle of Tune HD Review

Our Review by Jordan Minor on October 12th, 2011
Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: TUNE TOWN
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This offbeat music software allows one to compose music by creating a virtual city.

Developer: Happylander Ltd
Price: $2.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar
Game Controls Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar
Replay Value Rating: starstarstarstarhalfstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarstarblankstar

The beauty of Isle of Tune HD is that it can be whatever the player wants it to be. If the player wants to just mess around and have the game generate nice sounding melodies, that’s totally possible. If they don’t even want to bother creating songs and simply want to see what other players are up to that’s okay too. But if they really want to dig and explore every last inch of this deep, music composing software, then Isle of Tune HD won’t disappoint.

On the surface, Isle of Tune HD looks like a stripped down Sim City. Players place roads, cars, buildings and the various other stuff one would find in a town-building game. However, once players press that “go” button at the bottom of the screen, the game reveals itself to be a music composition game almost in the vein of Electroplankton or even the sequencer in Mario Paint. Up to eight cars can go through the track at once and when they pass by certain objects, certain tones play. From that basic concept comes the ability to create incredibly complex, layered songs.

In the basic mode, each item only has a preset amount of tones. This is fine for those who just want to plan a city and really just want the game to make music for them. However, the keyboard mode allows serious musicians to customize every note, change car speeds and directions, and delay certain track elements in order to perfect their masterpiece. Anyone looking to see what is possible with this tool need only see what users are sharing online. Some of it is quite impressive.

What are not so impressive are the controls. This was originally a PC game and while there are some added features, it’s clear that a mouse is the superior input method. Making crucial, precise adjustments can be bothersome and worse yet, sometimes the controls are just non-responsive.

Also, while the core conceit of turning a city into an abstract visualization of a piece of music works brilliantly sometimes, like creating separate islands for bass lines and other separate tracks, sometimes that abstractness gets in the way even for those of us with actual musical knowledge.

Still, Isle of Tune HD’s hook is ingenious and its creative potential is immense. Even if the iPad isn’t necessarily the best way to play it, if that’s all someone has this is definitely worth checking out. It’s basically GarageBand by way of Will Wright.

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