KORG Gadget (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Gabriel Jones 18.06.2018

Review for KORG Gadget on Nintendo Switch

Gamers everywhere! It's time to take on the greatest challenge. No, it isn't that shmup Ketsui: Kizuna Jigoku Tachi, nor is it the hardcore platforming game where there are approximately 4,087 beds of spikes in every room. No, the greatest challenge is none other than composing music. KORG Gadget, the award-winning music creation software has arrived on the Nintendo Switch. Anyone with a passion for sound will love having sixteen synthesisers - "gadgets" - to choose from. By implementing a simple interface and ensuring that all options are just a few button presses away, this product makes composition easy. Additional features, such as multiplayer and the time-limit mode, add to the fun.

Getting a feel for KORG Gadget can be a little daunting, particularly for those out there who are completely unfamiliar with music composition. After choosing to "Create a New Song," there aren't any tutorials, nor is there a guide on how to make a melody. Instead, the player is faced with a pretty overwhelming decision: which of the sixteen available gadgets should they start off with?

These gadgets are fully-featured synthesisers, and all of the necessities are accounted for. Every device contains hundreds upon thousands of samples, and the requisite knobs and dials allow the user to come up with even more. Yes, the possibilities really are infinite, but that's not all. Each of the sixteen devices can be combined in any number of ways, creating something truly avant-garde, or a wretched pile of filth that makes ears cry for help. Consider getting a pair of headphones and sticking to handheld mode if worried about disturbing the neighbours.

Anyway, back to that decision. Thankfully, the developer made it easy by ensuring that one of the most important gadgets is first on the list. When it comes to music, rhythm is everything, and there are few instruments better than a good set of drums. With no less than 63 different drum kits to work with, it's clear that London is designed for both versatility and accessibility. Tokyo has fewer samples, but its sounds are a little more customisable. A lot of care and tweaking is needed in order to create something truly unique. Then again, anyone can appreciate this gadget's meaty toms and kicks, which help lend impact to any song.

Screenshot for KORG Gadget on Nintendo Switch

At this point, it helps to have an idea of what genre you are interested in pursuing. For the indecisive, Marseille is a fine gadget to experiment with. Its 127 samples cover the gamut of traditional instruments, including pianos, clarinets, ukuleles, and so on, and so forth. Once the user gets a feel of what they are going for, they will want to choose a dedicated gadget. Chicago embodies the acid house genre, which can be heard in games like Streets of Rage 3. Then there's Wolfsburg, which produces raw and powerful synths - a great fit for the techno-minded. Oh, and don't forget the bass. Almost all of the gadgets are capable of producing it, but Dublin is especially effective.

A few of the other gadgets place an emphasis on aural backing and atmospheric tunes. Helsinki has numerous ambient samples to add depth to the aural experience. Kiev, with its specialised touchpad, is capable of creating warped sounds that spark the imagination. It's also well worth taking the time to explore Chiang Mai. Its bells and chimes carry a nice distinct sound, making them the perfect backing for any number of melodies.

Videogame fans might also appreciate the pair of gadgets that are dedicated to the classic sounds of the '80s. Kingston contains all of those familiar bloops and bleeps gamers grew up with, as well as additional functions for taking them to an unheard of level. Utilising Wavetable synthesis as it sound source, Kamata pulls users into the days of popular Namco arcade games like Galaga and Pac-Man. Not only does its wave bank contain nearly a hundred sounds, the Wavetable itself is fully customisable. Composers will find a lot to work with here, even if all they are looking for are a few 8-bit tones to spice things up.

Screenshot for KORG Gadget on Nintendo Switch

Other gadgets allow veterans to give their tunes some extra flair. The sample-heavy Amsterdam offers powerful sounds that really set the scene. Just try not to go overboard with the sampling, otherwise the melodies get buried. For those times when decidedly unnatural sounds are required, consider giving Miami a go. Keep in mind, however, that in the wrong hands this gadget can produce a lot of unpleasant noise.

Again, there aren't any limitations as to what or how many combinations of gadgets are used to create a song. Even for those out there who have never written a single note, it's better to just jump right in and see what happens. It's not hard at all to make something that's vaguely listenable, and aspiring musicians can build upon it however they like. Take those sounds, play around with them, and see how far they can be pushed. The interface is all about simplicity and functionality. There aren't 20 different menus to sift through, nor are they ornate and convoluted. Within just a few minutes, anyone can gain an understanding of all the tools available to them. It's also a plus that there aren't any distracting effects when selecting options or confirming choices. Outside of whatever tunes that are created, there's just the sweet sound of silence.

Admittedly, this critic went into KORG Gadget without the faintest knowledge of how to compose music, yet, in a way, it's refreshing that this product doesn't try to teach anything. At first, there's this feeling of "Okay, so now what?" but as soon as notes are placed and heard, ideas start to take shape. At times, it feels almost like a stream of consciousness, as one melody goes into the next without any real form or purpose. In time, users grasp the importance of transitions, know when to change up the rhythm, and start adapting their style in any number of ways. Basically, it's all about learning by doing.

Screenshot for KORG Gadget on Nintendo Switch

After the composer has familiarised themselves with how everything works, they should check out the Time Limit mode. Given five to ten minutes, and a random selection of gadgets, the goal is to create something, anything. Now, there aren't any hard rules here. More or less gadgets can be used, and the results aren't going to be rated. Think of this mode as a puzzle. The musician makes the most of their self-imposed limitations, and gains a greater appreciation of the instruments available to them. Not only is this mode incredibly addictive, it also has a fantastic pick up and play appeal to it. With just a few minutes, anyone can come up with an inspired collage of sounds. Plus, it's a nice warm up for getting those creative juices flowing.

Unfortunately, while this product allows users to share music between Switch consoles, there aren't any real export options. Those out there who want to post their creations online will have to jump through a couple hoops. First off, they will need to purchase a standard male-to-male audio cable, which will set them back a couple dollars. After connecting the cable to both the Switch's headphone jack and the PC's microphone port, then they have to run an audio-recording and editing programme, such as Audacity. As far as workarounds go, this one is cheap and easy, and the sound quality isn't sacrificed, either.

Screenshot for KORG Gadget on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

At first, KORG Gadget is a lot like diving headfirst into the deep end. However, if someone is willing to dedicate a little time, they will have the opportunity to explore a world they never knew existed. As the hours pile up, the user will gain a new perspective on how music is created. All of their favourite songs and albums will be seen in a different light. They will start to notice every little thing, and in doing so gain a new appreciation for the artists and their talent. Perhaps they themselves will someday create a wonderful piece of music. Also, the time limit mode is, quite simply, awesome. Creating a piece of music in just a few minutes makes for a really fun and unique challenge. The lack of export options is equal parts strange and annoying, but it's not too much trouble to deal with. Those out there with even the slightest interest in music should definitely give this software a try.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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