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Kuma Uta Music Downloads Begin

David Smith

Showing that its most strange of games may have some legs in spite of it all, Sony Computer Entertainment today began a campaign of free music downloads for Kuma Uta, its recently-released music management system. After downloading a free viewer program, fans will be able to watch a series of music clips starring the game's inimitable enka-singing polar bear.

Yes, Kuma Uta is about a singing polar bear. Like Masaya Matsuura's Mojib Ribbon, released at about the same time last fall, it's a curious use of voice synthesis for a simple music game. In this case, the player instructs the bear with a few basic directions about what sort of song to sing, and the bear comes back with an original tune in the style of Japanese "enka" easy-listening music.

Also like Mojib Ribbon, Kuma Uta lets players share their own song creations online with the PlayStation 2 Network Adaptor and hard drive. Now, with the release of the PC viewer program, it's possible to view Sony's clips without a copy of the game.

The viewer program, a download of some 24 megabytes, can be found at the bottom of SCE's download page. The program's text is encoded entirely in Japanese, but it installs without a hitch on an American Windows machine, and the program interface proper is almost entirely wordless. Simply open a .enka file with the program's sole command (or drag and drop the file into the viewer window), click the obvious "yes" button on the ensuing window, and watch the video that unfolds.

It's hard to say whether most gamers will find the effort of downloading and installing the lot worth it, given the reward is a slideshow of a bear in various silly outfits accompanies by tinny synthesized Japanese-retiree pop. However, collectors of the bizarre and unusual may want to give it a look. The first of Sony's song downloads -- by Yukito Morikawa of developer MuuMuu -- is available here, and we'll update with more news of new tunes as they're released.

Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in 1UP.






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