Before introducing you to what soundload is, I should probably tell you about the game it’s going to appear in. Bangai-O Spirits is the next game in the Bangai-O series which debuted on the Dreamcast. The game is a sort of puzzle shooter in which the gamer controls a mech armed with a variety of different weapons and items in order to work his way through short levels featuring a multitude of brief levels that work almost like puzzles. Choose the right weapon or weapon combinations to tackle each level and the player will have an easier time of it.
It’s actually quite a bit of fun to play and the few levels I dove into at E3 have probably made an addict out of me since I sadly missed the original on the Dreamcast. The game comes replete with plethora of levels and a create your own level design which can store up to 24 levels on the cartridge. Here is where it gets interesting though. Treasure (!), the developers behind the game wanted a way for people to be able to easily share and disperse their homebrew levels, but the DS’s storage space wasn’t enough room and while wireless is a great way to share a level, it’s hard to download one from one DS to the other. Thus, they came up with soundloading.
Soundloading is the process of saving a level in mp3 format so that another DS can hear that level and save it to itself. For instance, if a player creates a level they really like and want their friend to have it, all they have to do is save the file as an mp3 on the Bangai-O menu and then play it for their friend’s DS to hear. The friend’s DS will decrypt the sounds and then save the level to their game. Since mp3 files are so much smaller than the regular files would be, the DS can do this quickly and easily and the player can design more levels than if they were being saved in another format.
Don’t be surprised if you see a cottage soundload community rising up out of this game either. The game comes with instructions on how to upload mp3 levels to the computer, allowing gamers across the world to share their levels via email or the web. All they have to do is open up their DS in front of a computer speaker and let it hear the sound file. This is by far some of the coolest tech I saw at E3.
Sadly, I didn’t get a live demo of soundloading working in the real world but the guys at D3 say that they tested it in the noise of a local café and the soundload worked perfectly. We’d have to get the game in our hands to confirm this but I don’t see why it wouldn’t be true since upon listening to the soundloud’s mp3 file played over the DS’s speakers, it would be hard to confuse the shrill beeps and boops with anything else. I’m not sure how necessary soundloading actually is in the grand scheme of things, but it’s nifty little innovations like this that make gaming a bit more fun.