"I guess Mattel had to have at least one title to take advantage of the Music Synthesizer. While the Music Synthesizer was a good idea in my opinion, I personally would have liked to see Mattel implement more of their ideas for the ECS (other music devices for example) rather than releasing a few games and forgetting about it, feeling sorry for the demise of the original Keyboard Component.
"The one Music Synthesizer-specific title that was released is pretty decent. It is colorful and has a nice image of piano keys at the bottom of the screen, which makes it aesthetically pleasing and adds to the 'artsy' feel of the title. The artwork on the box and manual is even better; I should make a scan and put it up in the Art Section.
"As far as the 'game' goes, the objective is generally the same throughout, not unlike the graphics. Notes fall from the sky and hit the keyboard. Above the keyboard there is a horizontal red beam. As notes pass over the beam the player tries to 'zap' them by pressing the respective keys on which the notes are about to land, causing the keyboard to fire a laser straight up at the note. The closer the note is to the red beam when it is shot, the more points the player earns (maximum of 100 per note). Obviously the player tries to earn the highest score possible before the tune ends, after which both the score and tune are reset.
"There are many variations on the theme: the computer can play both hands (effectively a demo); the computer can play one hand while the player plays the other; or the player can play both hands. Whole notes identify those that the computer will shoot, and stemmed notes are the ones the player is responsible for shooting. Other variations include: duet (only the right-hand notes fall, but they come in pairs; both the player and computer shoot notes together); 'play anything'; and 'tap melody' (playable without the Music Synthesizer; only right-hand notes fall, and pressing any key causes the correct key to fire at the note). The player can adjust the tempo, and also toggle all notes to be staccato. There are also features to allow the player to save/load melodies to/from tape, and to 'cut' segments of melodies; ideal for practicing tricky parts of certain tunes. Eleven tunes are pre-defined and the player can also play with his own created melody. Additional pre-defined melodies would have been sold separately on tapes.
"It is a shame that Mattel didn't release at least one additional tape containing extra melodies. With the release of the emulator, one could have reverse-engineered a file containing the tape data and used it to generate new tapes, breathing new life into an old title. Maybe a reverse-engineering of the ROM can make it possible (to figure out the format of the pre-defined melodies), but of course it will be far more difficult. The colorful aspect of the title makes it more appealing to youngsters, and overall it just might serve its purpose as an educational title, teaching and building piano-playing skills.
"Of course it is hardly playable without the Music Synthesizer. Although the keyboard and synthesizer are basically the same device but with different key mappings, it is impractical to use the title except for playing the demo and 'tap melody' game with just the keyboard. Since the title was designed for use with the Music Synthesizer and not everybody with a Music Synthesizer was expected to purchase it, I figure there have to be fewer copies of this title in existence than there are Music Synthesizers. Of course the Music Synthesizer alone is very hard to find. I myself am still looking to get ahold of one (at almost any price), not just for collecting purposes, but because I have young relatives who would probably put it to good use. Collect it if you have a Music Synthesizer and want a title to complement it, otherwise don't bother, as it has no other purpose." Rating: 3/5 -- Mike Hayes