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