Saturday, 19 September 2015

Melody Master (Vectrex review)

Developer: GCE
Publisher: GCE
Released: 1983

Melody Master is a music creation tool that requires both the Light Pen and controller to operate.


The two modes on offer are Music and Game. Music allows you to create songs using three individual layers; two are melody based while the other consists of a rhythm (snare and cymbal). With the melody you first select whether you want the notes to be Loud or Soft as well as whether the instrument is a Flute (sustained notes) or Piano (short notes). Using the Light Pen you then choose the note you want and then press Button 3 on the controller to move onto the next. Annoyingly you can't just point the pen at any part of the piano key as it must be directly over the small note indicator. As a result you'll sometimes have to move the pen around in circles before it's recognised. Once you've finished you can play your track to see how it sounds. Another melody layer can be added in the same fashion but the rhythm is performed using the controller (Button 1 for a cymbal, Button 2 for a snare and Button 3 for a rest). You can edit layers but the interface is a bit clunky; for example, if you're currently changing notes and want to delete one earlier in the layer you have to exit, re-select the melody, click Edit, hover over the M icon and select Delete before moving to the position you want. In Game mode there's two activities; the first tasks you with recognising a visual note played by a pianist and then selecting it on screen - get it right and you continue to the next note. If you selected the wrong note the pianist will tell you whether it was higher or lower than the one he actually played and you're then taken back to the start of the combination. The second note gives you no visual clue so you must guess the note from memory. They're not very stimulating games but they could be useful if you're interested in learning to play music by ear.

Melody Master is an interesting experiment but the clumsy interface makes creating tracks a bit of a chore. The game also doesn't really benefit from the Light Pen and could probably have been developed for the controller and still work just as well.



Random trivia: If you don't own a Vectrex Light Pen it's possible to make your own using just a few supplies! Head over to this link to find out more.

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