The music hacker is a different breed in a number of ways. It’s fairly safe, for instance, to say that the average Nintendo gamer does not consider the ability to patch modular synth parameters with their stylus a “killer app.” Yet the Korg DS-10, arguably the first entirely music production-focused cartridge for a major game system ever, has attracted just that kind of interest. And it’s also attracted a different kind of pirate. I know some of the folks who pirated the DS-10 ROM personally, and a lot of them did it after completely a pricey import order for the legit cartridge from Japan — seriously. Many are developers themselves, and they’re committed to supporting other developers, and to supporting the creation of new musical tools on every platform possible.

Further evidence: a competition last week to make tracks with that DS-10 cartridge offered the legit cart as the grand prize.

Now, we could ignore the fact that piracy exists, but instead I bring this out in the open because so many people I talk to feel strongly about it. We want the ability to run homebrew software, and we likewise feel it’s vitally important to support developers in the traditional distribution by paying for the software they make.

So, the word has gone out from the mobile music and homebrew communities: if you appreciate the tool, pay for a legitimate copy of Korg’s DS-10. It’s really a unique moment in soft synths. It’s a real, commercial music tool for a game platform. It’s not a music game (Guitar Hero), or an oddball add-on in a game (the synth in Mario Paint), or a fascinating piece of sound art (ElectroPlankton), or homebrew software requiring hacking. As a result, it does have some constraints — you can’t export files made in the tool, you’re limited to preset spaces on the cartridge itself, and you can’t use things like wireless MIDI available in the homebrew community. For those reasons, I still heavily recommend the homebrew tools, and we’ll talk about that more.

But, having played with this for the last week on an early cart from Japan, I can say this: you’ll want it, if you own a DS, even alongside homebrew tools. Watch for the CDM video review by early next week. And apparently, the buzz is out there, because the preorder has already risen to #3 among music games on Amazon, which is pretty unbelievable. I’m tracking any affiliate revenue we make from Amazon, and will use it to specifically support DS coverage and tutorials on CDM.

Korg DS-10 @

Previously: Nintendo to Block Homebrew Game Hardware; Leaked DS-10 ROM Inspires DS Music

  • I hope this sells well enough to warrant a sequel..

  • Crap i already bought one.. No commission for cdm 🙁

  • I think that compo is actually going to get delayed for a while, check back soon.

  • lekvar

    I'd say it was unbelievable if the DS-10 didn't manage to surpass the hype. As it stands, I'll be pre-ordering mine today, 'cause it's even more fun than I thought it'd be.

  • Preorderd! Thanks for the heads-up. More DS coverage is always welcome 🙂

  • it's now dropped to #4 on amazon…

  • Hey guys! The linked compo's due date has been EXTENDED, you can still win the cart, wh000!

  • hey peter, your amazon affiliate link isn't showing up in safari 3.1.2 (mac)

  • it's exciting to see this cart is so popular, i hope propeller heads pick up on this trend and port rebirth to the ds! i think ds has got the juice for it =)

    using a backup unit with music software is key for saving your tracks. however, since ds is wireless enabled we could see a music soft that backs your saves up over wifi, or even downloads new sounds/patches that way! fingers crossed.

  • Polite

    bah… amazon wont ship the cart to australia. Lousy blagging shipping restrictions. No doubt it'll cost like $100 in over here for no apparent reason, when, or if, it finally arrives in a year's time.

  • Downpressor

    "Yet the Korg DS-10, arguably the first entirely music production-focused cartridge for a major game system ever"

    Just as a point of reference, you can say that music making gamesofts are almost as old as consoles themselves. There was software from Konami for the Famicom Disk System which included a small piano style keyboard controller.

    For the Super Famicom there was "Ongaku Tsukuru" (music make) which didnt have a keyboard but did support the mouse and the cartridge had a slot for removable memory.

    Sega Saturn may or may not have had a piano controller and music software, my memory is fuzzy on this.

  • Downpressor, that's a good point. Did any have sequencers internally? (Did Ongaku Tsukuru, I can't remember?)

  • @Polite: that's awful. We heard we'd see more world distribution, though. I'll keep readers posted if I hear anything specific.

  • BirdFLU

    I bought one from Japan and I'm not sorry I did. The DS-10 is fun, useful and sounds really good. Now that I can do "Warm Leatherette" on a DS, I don't need any more gear ever.

  • nausea

    i had my copy last week from a japanese ebayer. it's absolutely sweet.

  • I'm waiting for my copy to arrive from Play-Asia. Hoping it gets here this week so I'll have it with me while I'm away at NVision. 🙂

  • Pingback: Korg DS-10 : Finally available in North America | Key Of Grey()

  • Mr. Tunes

    the amazon pre-order won't ship to canada.

    i'll have to wait until gets it or it shows up in stores here i guess.

  • Sega Saturn, I dont know about and I was a pretty big fan, but I would not be suprised! would love some music software for that.

    I remember seeing a keyboard for the Mattel Intellivision @ that videogame store that used to be on St Mark's in NYC.

  • Downpressor

    Peter Kim,

    Ongaku Tsukuru did have a multi instrument scoring/sequencing function and you could save off to the memory cart as well. The older Konami thing *might* have had a limited record/playback function but if it did it was volatile memory in cart. Cant remember for sure.


    I was good friends with the owner of that store. Back in the mid 90s I used to be the guy who installed modchips on playstations there.

  • piezo

    "Yet the Korg DS-10, arguably the first entirely music production-focused cartridge for a major game system ever"

    There have been a few entirely music production-focused cartridges before, including sequencers and synthesizers. The DS-10 may be the first such cartridge by a major publisher but not the first ever.

  • Mr. Tunes

    piezo: i agree. Traxxpad for PSP seems to have gone totally under the radar. the thing can even sample off the headset and then you edit your waveform. and it came out like a year ago?

  • Thomas

    Will the US version run on a European DS, or are there some kind of restrictions, zones, etc?

  • First or not doesn't really matter. The DS-10 means serious business and imo kills the Kaossilator for many reasons. Turns the KO-1 into a companion piece! The DS-10 functionally, in many, many, ways.. is very similiar to the EMX-1 electribe. It's amazing how serious this app is.

    The first thing that it does certainly represent – is a console release by a major Synth brand. That is beyond cool. WTG AQ-I/Korg/Nintendo.

    Awesome to hear that the DS-10 has been in the #1 or #2 sales spot in Japan for the last 3 weeks since its release. Very promising for those of us that hope to see more of these types of releases!

    Electroplankon v2 anyone? A portable version of a trimmed down Tenori-On? You know you wanna do it Nintendo!

  • couldn't resist 😛

  • drohnwerks

    “Yet the Korg DS-10, arguably the first entirely music production-focused cartridge for a major game system ever”

    Also the Music series from codemasters (Playstation , PS2 and even GBA), from memory I think there was a similar MTV branded program/game…

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  • yot

    Mr Tunes: It could be because Traxxpad for PSP (although quite powerful) doesn't have that pick-up-and-play instant fun-ness that the DS-10 seems to have managed to bring??

    I have just ordered the DS-10 as it is finally available in the UK !

    I would like to see Korg themselves, Nintendo, Yamaha, (or even one of the many independant virtual instrument developers) etc do more mainstream dedicated music software like this, hopefully with more hardware interfacing and file export options.

  • Danielo

    Mr Tunes…try your Local EB Games Store: I just picked one up in a West-End Toronto location (not that the staff at the store knew WTF it was…it was on the shelf)