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With the recently-announced Korg M1 app and DS-10, the Nintendo DS handheld remains a surprisingly-good choice for handheld music making. A new app could take that further.

Nintendo may have struck a blow to homebrew music developers by successfully blocking hardware that allowed it to run. But while it’s not nearly as open to development as Apple’s iOS, Nintendo’s DSiWare can work for an independent developer. The proof: Rhythm Core Alpha, created by T.B. Trzepacz.

What’s unique about this application is that it emphasizes real-time production. Sound playback never stops during editing. The crowded interface packs some fairly powerful-looking features:

  • A Drum Grid with 12 tracks x 64 beats x 122 sounds
  • A Note Grid with 8 tracks x 64 beats x 166 sounds
  • A Solo Mode that places six octaves of notes onscreen for playing
  • A 1000-step pattern mode with chord, drum, and note modes, plus looping
  • 7 velocity levels for everything (okay, not a lot, but that provides simple velocity control)
  • Quite-nice scale mapping (see screenshots) to keep you in tune – and yes, it’s also possible to override them

See the video demonstrations below.

Pricing is 500 Nintendo Points, or US$5. Naturally, you’ll need to have a DSiWare-capable handheld in a location with access to the store, but assuming you’ve got a newer model, this is much easier than the homebrew route, and pricing is similar to iOS apps.

Rhythm Core Alpha – Unrehearsed Jam at Kulak’s Woodshed, April 2010 – V2 from SoftEgg on Vimeo.

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Rhythm Core Alpha on Nintendo DSiWare panel with SoftEgg’s Tim Trzepacz at Pasadena Rock ‘n Comic Con from SoftEgg on Vimeo.