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A.P.I Review: FLUID
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Sony 1 Player
Game Type: Musical Adventure Memory Card
Review Date: August 1998 Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

Hot on the heels of Parappa the Rapper and Spice World, Fluid is Sony 
Computer Entertainments latest attempt to stretch those video game 
boundaries further than ever imagined.  In an attempt to reach those 
parts that no other system dare broach, they have seen fit to release, 
not a game, but 'a totally innovative music making tool'.  

Fluid has already made a big impact in Japan.  Only last year the 
Organization of Multimedia Affiliated Companies awarded it the Grand 
Prix award for the best musical display.  It has also been reported 
that a few Tokyo nightclubs have installed a 'Fluid Chill-Out room' 
while 'Fluid Groove Contests' were organized to allow players to enter 
their works which had been created on the Playstation.

We're not talking stylaphone here.  Oh no!  Fluid could be your big 
chance to allow those creative skills to float up to the surface and, 
just maybe, produce a musical masterpiece that will have millions 
flocking towards the dance floors.  Only don't bank on it, because it 
may just as easily sound pretty crap.


Fluid is a musical adventure without a story or an ending, to be played 
endlessly without victory or defeat.
Confused? You will be!


As soon as the game loads up the player takes control of a rather splendid 
looking dolphin, as it swims through the oceans murky depths.  This area 
is called "Silent Space".  Specifically why a dolphin was chosen is a 
mystery to me.  Perhaps it fits in with this trippy, new age, save the 
environment thing that is all the rage.  I don't know but it seems to work.

By pressing various buttons on the joypad you can get 'Flipper' to perform 
a few stunts such as... err... swim.  'Up' tilts it's beak-like snout down.  
'Down' tilts the tail up.  By pressing the left or right directional 
buttons the porpoise-like sea creature will eventually roll onto it's back.  
Pushing any of the face buttons sets the dolphin in motion while releasing 
them all makes it look quite dead.

When manoeuvreing the mammal around the sea bed all of the 'action' can be 
viewed from three different camera angles by pressing the shoulder buttons. 
The dolphin doesn't really go anywhere because this particular sea bed is 
similar to the world in which we live in.  It all looks very flat but if 
you keep steaming straight ahead you eventually return to your start point.

There are twelve different worlds in which to swim in and not all of them 
are below water.  Space has the sea creature gliding through an asteroid 
belt while Wire involves weaving in and out of a never ending line of 
electricity pylons. 

Now this may all sound very boring but... well, actually it is.  The 
graphics are all beautifully pre-rendered images but play a secondary 
part to the music.  Effectively they offer you something soothing to 
view while you get down to the serious business of composing a classic.

Sounds and Effects

If the sounds in this game disappoint then only yourself can be blamed, 
because you created them.  The main objective is to guide the dolphin 
through various themed worlds to collect sound patterns in order to 
compose and remix music of varying genres, from Acid Jazz through to 
Drum and Bass, Ambient, Techno and House.  

To experience the full potential of Fluid it is highly recommended that 
you connect your Playstation console to an amplifier and speakers.  

Seeming as the music and effects involve the playability of Fluid we'll 
skip straight into the next section of the review and combine them both.


I suppose many of you will not have the first idea about how to create a 
piece of music.  Thankfully, the game options include a helpful step-by-
step section to guide you through the process of composing your very own 
selection of trippy sounds.

To get the 'game' started you must first navigate the dolphin through the 
"Silent Space" towards a circle of 3D stone monuments.  These represent 
sound patterns.  One of them will be shaded slightly lighter than the rest.  
Simply guide the mammal through the centre of this icon and with a ripple 
of the screen you will be teleported into a level titled 'Peace'.  You are 
now in the first "Cruise Stage".

Although you remain in full control of the dolphin, each movement now 
alters the sound of the music.  In effect, your joypad becomes a 
miniaturized keyboard.  The face buttons provide new noises, of which the 
frequency may be changed by using the directional buttons.  These new 
sounds are collected and stored within the in-game memory to be used later.

After several minutes creating what amounts to an awful racket, a small 
message appears on the screen to inform you that by guiding the dolphin to 
the right side of the screen you may access the second mysterious world, 
the 'Abyss'.  The sea creature is now swimming in a totally new environment 
with a completely different selection of sounds.  Once again after several 
minutes twiddling with the joypad these new sounds are stored within the 
memory for later use.

You can actually visit all twelve worlds, gathering over 600 different 
sound patterns, before you retreat to the mixing room.  However this could 
take some time, therefore the option is available to leave after visiting 
each individual world by simply pressing the start button on your joypad.  
This returns you to "Silent Space" where you must navigate the dolphin 
towards the "Groove Editor".  Here you get to mix together all of the 
collected sounds.  Naturally, the more worlds that you have taken the time 
to visit, the more samples you are going be able to play around with back 
at the studio.

Once inside the "Groove Editor" you may recreate your own tracks by 
choosing and customizing any of the collected samples.  Each background 
tune can then be split up into eight sections - four styles of drum, three 
varied synthesizers and a rip roaring bass line.  Within each of these 
eight sections there are up to 120 possible patterns to be collected and 
used.  Furthermore, each of the patterns volume, pan, delay, reverb and 
modulation can be adjusted.  That's a whole lotta tune samples to play 
around with.

Once your new tune has been composed for a particular themed world it may 
be saved onto a memory card.  Now every time you re-enter that particular 
world it will be your composition that is playing.  Even better, you can 
connect your console up to a CD deck and record it onto tape to play at 
your mates house.

Value for Money

This is another one of those games that you will either love or hate.  
The strange thing was that everyone I showed this game too immediately 
reacted negatively, but could I hell get the control pad back off them.  
Rent it first... then buy it.
GRAPHICS: 16/20 When is a game, not a game?
Probably when it's a musical adventure like Fluid.

It's more of a single player experience as I cannot imagine anyone else wanting to sit back and listen to your amateurish attempts at making music.
SOUND: 9/10
VALUE: 17/20


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