Traxxpad: Portable StudioESRB:
Developer - Definitive Studios
Publisher - Eidos Interactive
Having reviewed some interesting titles that were hard to categorize, I have been given the task to review Traxxpad. Published by Eidos Interactive, this game is not so much a game, but it is a music editor. And after learning the ins and outs of what this title has to present I have to say that I am somewhat impressed by what Traxxpad offers, especially to those aspiring and creative musicians out there.
There is no doubt that graphics are not the highlight of this title, nor should they be. Traxxpad is all about making music in the most functional way that one can on the PSP. Bottom-line is that what is offered on the screen is clean, readable and quite functional. There is really no more that I can say in this department as the focus of this game is not the visuals, but the sound.
When I started to think about what I was going to write in this section I realized that this title is all about sound. What was I to expect though, it is a music maker for heaven's sake. There are a ton of samples for one to make into melodies of their choice. What it really comes down to is how creative the user is. If I have the ability to make some music then I am sure there are some people out there that can really come up with some wild and creative tunes. I would have to say that with all the samples at one's disposal that music is quite easy to create given that you take the time to learn. With this in mind I would have to say that the overall audio presentation is on the high side as some great sounding tunes can be created with the high number of samples included in Traxxpad.
As I mentioned in my introduction, Traxxpad is not so much a game but it is a music editor. There is no high score to beat, nor are their any levels to master. What you have is a title that allows you to create music tracks in such genres like hip-hop, electronica and techno. To do so there are a large number of sounds available on this UMD and they allow for some pretty original creativity. Should there be something else that you desire, and it is not on the UMD, you can record your own sound samples to mix and match with those already available.
So how do you make music you ask? Well, using an editor called the R.T.I.S.T; you record small sequences of music. This can be done by utilizing button presses in realtime or by placing the music note-by-note. Should you feel real creative you can combine both of these methods too. Once you have your notes you can then change them (e.g. pitch, sustain length, etc.) and place them in any order that you desire. These tasks are done in the MeLOD editor and the S.T.A.C editor. By using these editors, you can basically create your musical interlude and once you have done so you can sit and listen to the fruits of your labor. Should you be really happy with the song you created you have the option of exporting it as an MP3 file to an outside device allowing other people to give it a listen.
As I started to play around with Traxxpad I discovered that the editing options were somewhat large in number, especially given the fact that this is on the PSP. I found that the ability to do so much on a program like this was even somewhat daunting. This is mainly due to the fact that there are a lot of necessary screens that are needed to manage all the things that you can do. I found the learning curve was quite large, especially given the fact that I am not a music master. There is no doubt that a lot of casual gamers or casual music fans will find this to be the case as well. Luckily there is a tutorial mode that is not only necessary, but quite useful too. After some time with the tutorial, and a lot of time playing with and eventually understanding the interface, I found that I was somewhat successful in making some basic melodies that didn't scare the bejeebus out of my dog. That being said what I was able to accomplish was quite miniscule compared to what can probably be done with the available tools.
For those who want to just get into Traxxpad with the intention of just jammin', you will find your self going into the MyXxer. This is a stripped down version of the menu loaded R.T.I.S.T editor. Here you can assign sounds and play them, but you will not have to worry about all the complicated recording aspects mentioned earlier in this part of the review. I found I had a lot of fun in this mode as I was able to try out a lot of the sounds that were already included in the game and I was able to make some pretty funky music, albeit not the most innovative.
Traxxpad is definitely in a genre of its own on the PSP, as it is not a game of any kind but an actual music creator. It is a great introduction to making music, especially on a portable handheld machine. Anyone with a little time on their hands can be relatively successful at making some original music of their own. I can't help but want to recommend this title to anyone looking for something new that will get the creative juices flowing on the PSP.