Archive for the ‘Rhythm’ Category

B-Boy Beats

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

B-Boy Beats

This game really has the potential to be an extremely good rhythm title, with clever mechanics and a great soundtrack, but it is bogged down by difficult controls, an unnecessarily steep difficulty curve, and the inclusion of repeated and somewhat demoralizing negative feedback.

As with most rhythm games, the goal is to tap the screen in the proper locations, while staying on beat. The play area is a top-down view of a busted up cardboard box, perfect for breakdancing. Your fingers loosely represent your feet. You plant your “feet” firmly on the two start points to start and then tap the next circle when its outer ring scales down to fit the circle. This may sound easy, but the timing and placement is more difficult than many other games in the genre. You have to keep your inactive finger seated on the screen, which is somewhat counter to the quick  ”tap tap” feeling of other titles. On top of this, the developers have layered on several other techniques that are explained fully in the tutorial including the Moonwalk (tap-slide), the Reverse Moonwalk (slide-tap), and the Handplant (+2 finger press), among others (10 total).

“Break your fingers with…B-Boy Beats” is the tagline for the game and I found that after playing it for hours, it’s not far from the truth. Holding the iPhone and tapping with my thumbs seemed to be the most comfortable control usage, but when handplants are added, you need to find two extra fingers somewhere. They suggested using the ring finger, which would be horrible, so I opted to switch my main stance to index fingers and use my thumbs for the additional beats, which was non-optimal, but at least doable. The other major issue is the new user experience. Whenever you drop below a certain point on the “Break-o-meter”, the crowd starts to boo. I understand you want a certain amount of attitude in a game of this ilk, but because the game has issues recognizing when your feet are replaced properly after a failure, the problem is compounded a great deal. I did persevere and beat every crew on their own turf in the city, but I have the feeling many new users would give up quickly.

Even with this laundry list of issues, I still enjoyed the game a great deal, personally. B-Boy Beats could easily be a 5-Star game if it was better tuned and less punishing, but as it stands, it’s hovering around 3.5 Stars for me. The soundtrack, by the way, is well above average; if you like underground hip-hop, then you may like what is on offer here from the likes of Optimus Rhyme and Magitek.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Thumpies

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Thumpies

What surprising and innovative rhythm game. At the beginning, it’s very simple; just tap the drum when the Thumpie bounces on it and you start to hear a rhythm emerge. When you reach the higher levels on hard difficulty, though, it can be maddening; four Thumpies bouncing every which way at breakneck speed, multiple drum positions and butterflies being snarfed up before you can tap them. That last point is important, because different numbers of tapped butterflies open up new Thumpies, including one called “Flippy”, thank you very much. On-beat drum taps fills the meter and moves you to the next level, but watch out, because letting it bottom out consumes one of your precious butterflies.

The artwork is amazing, both background and foreground, and you simply have to see these little guys bouncing around in 3D (well, 3D actors on a 2D plane). What’s really important in a rhythm game, though, is the music and rhythm and Thumpies scores high marks on both counts. What separates this title from others in the genre is the fact that you are discovering the rhythms, insead of trying to replicate them. Initially, you are just tapping when you see a Thumpie hit a drum, but later on, when there are several simultaneous Thumpies, the ability to recognize rhythm really helps. These quirky little creatures emit the strangest form of alien beat box too, which adds immeasurably to the charm of this title. The game really is lovingly crafted and I love pretty much everything about it, which is why I would also love some additional levels please…

Rating: ★★★★½ icon
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Lilt Line

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

Lilt Line

I really like this one. You may not, primarily because it’s way too short. You could play through all the levels in one or two sittings.  The idea, the minimalist presentation, and the Dubstep soundtrack (provided by 16bit) are absolutely killer. You guide a simple white trail through an ever-changing tunnel, by tilting the iPhone. When you cross a thick white column, you tap your finger to the beat anywhere on the screen. Hitting the walls or missing a beat reduces your score. Hit zero, game over. Unfortunately, the beat tap feels unresponsive, since it’s triggered on the release, not the press. C’mon, it’s a rhythm game, how could they make that mistake?!? Another questionable design decision is that the key parts of the music are dampened, after a miss, which is punishing. This is billed as a “massively single player tactical espionage survival horror musical space flight simulation”, which is pretty awesome in and of itself. Why is it called Lilt Line, instead of Tilt Line? No idea. Again, I like it, but I don’t really recommend it, in it’s current state, for anyone but the most adventurous, rich, and/or drunk.

Update: Kick_Butt. The developers have added 4 new, huge levels; bumps my rating up to 4 Stars. I really do like this game and I can heartily recommend it, now that they have addressed my primary concern.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Tomena Sanner (US)

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Tomena Sanner (US)

Okay, this game is pure genius. The gameplay consists entirely of timing moves for your little man in a business suit to execute, WHILE BREAKDANCING, in order to keep his pace and reach the goal before the timer runs out. It is loaded with wacky Japanese goodness, including a rhythm section at the end of every level. The crazy factor most closely resembles that of a old playstation game I have called Incredible Crisis (which is a must-play); while the gameplay is completely different, the humor and style is similar. Over the course of the 9 game levels, you will accomplish all of the following important tasks:

  1. Moonwalk with Santa…on the moon
  2. Ski down a dinosaur’s back
  3. Disco-dance with a panda
  4. Play Baseball with a man in a Godzilla suit
  5. Get a kiss from a Swedish maid
  6. Line-dance with Japanese schoolgirls
  7. Slam dunk on a 20’ rim
  8. Do the robot…with a robot

    By the way, if you play through the whole game, you will be able to visit both heaven and hell. Buy this game and make Konami filthy rich.

    Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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    Beat It!

    Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

    How’s that? An innovative rhythm game, whathu? It’s true, you listen to a short song sequence and then attempt to recreate it using the instruments provided. You can play back the original at any time, but the exercise is timed, so if you take too long, you get zero points. The artwork if off the block and everything is blipping around in the background like crazy. You need to see it to believe it. This one is really challenging, but I like it alot for its innovation. A Free Play mode is also included, which lets you create songs with the full complement of instruments and no timer or other restrictions.                                                                       

    Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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    Tap Star

    Sunday, June 21st, 2009

    Tap Star

    This is Dance Dance Revolution clone that is a vehicle for pimping Sony’s music catalog, which is a blessing and a curse, as you can see from the shot. It launched with a diverse selection of 11 songs, so diverse in fact, that it is unlikely that you will find anyone that likes more than two songs on it. Warrant anyone? The claim is that they will release a boatload of new songs for free, in the upcoming weeks, and then the micro-transactions will start on a per-song basis. The game itself lacks much of what makes DDR successful: animating characters, special effects, and a meaningful progression. In addition, they came up with a somewhat smart colored arrow system and then spoiled it by making they flash different colors, when you are doing well. They are also hard to reach, particular with the note patterns on the higher levels of difficulty. Dear Britney, we failed to give you a proper upbringing and now this. Please accept our apologies. – your adoring fans…xoxo

    Mevo and the Grooveriders

    Saturday, June 13th, 2009

    Mevo and the Grooveriders: Galactic Tour

    This is a rhythm game for people that shy away from the insane difficulty of many rhythm games (see BeatRider “Crazy” setting). The music is groovy, the character is stylish, and the gameplay is simple and fun. The only problem is that there is not nearly enough content here. You play through 4 levels, get a new suit that has an unnecessary special ability, that doesn’t look as kewl, and then you play through the same levels again on a harder difficulty. It’s got a very kewl vibe, but it’s not quite there. You can download the soundtrack for free, from their website, BTW.

    Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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    BeatRider +50

    Sunday, May 10th, 2009

    Beat Rider

    First thought, “Finally, you can use your own music in a rhythm game!” Second thought, “Wow, what a royal pain in the butt!” You see, Apple does not currently allow developers to mess with a user’s iTunes Library (it can play in the background, but you can’t use it to generate data). The workaround that the developers came up with is to upload your music to a server, then download it to Beat Rider. It takes forever, as you have to upload one song at a time, and there is a limit of 20 songs, none over ten minutes long. An algorithm that generates tap-notes is never going to be as good as a crafted experience, but it is a fair trade-off, since you pay zero dollars for Nine Inch Nails, as opposed to $5 for the Tap Tap Revenge version.

    That’s how the game plays, by the way, notes travel down a series of five paths and the user taps the corresponding button, when one crosses the tap line. It’s a bit disconcerting that the buttons you hit, set off a drum beat, but at times, it makes it seem more like it matches the song. There are tons of difficulty levels, up to and including so-insane-only-robots-can-win. Even with its limitations, I love this game for one reason; imagine playing Rock Band with your entire music library, instead of the songs they decide to pimp.

    Update: Songs can now be uploaded simultaneously, the storage cap was increased to 50 with this version (a cheaper 20-song version is also available), 70 free songs were added, 3 new skins have been added, and there are both 3-note and 5-note play modes. I’m still putting the update through its paces, but will return with impressions.

    Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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    World of Tunes

    Friday, March 20th, 2009

    World of Tunes

    Cutesy rhythm game. Tap the smileys, slide the smileys, and pop the smileys to the beat. Pretty crazy and action-packed vibe, with bosses, and 4 different game types. If you like the Tap Tap series of games and/or their clones, you might like this one. It has only 14 songs, though, which will be a dealbreaker for some players.

    Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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