Thursday, February 21, 2008


This is pretty cool. From independent developers, distributed through a tool named STEAM. I will explain.

The notion is that... well, the tagline is something like "play your music," which is right, but unhelpful. I guess I'll go through it with these screenshots, helpfully placed throughout. First, you go through a tutorial. (Optional, not shown.) Then you choose one of several characters, at various difficulties. They're shown above, as well as some achievements that one may earn. The sharp-eyed may notice something wrong. This is because the game is odd.

Then you choose from music - I mostly play my own, but the game comes with some - to play on. The game converts music - mp3, flac, m4a, wma, the works - into what it unhelpfully calls "tracks". Fast bits are "downhill", faster, worth more points, and harder. Slow bits, the converse: Uphill, slower, worth fewer points, on average. The conversion process is quite swift, and entirely painless. Once it's done:

You play.

This is one of the standard modes. In the standard modes, a series of blocks, roughly corresponding to notes (and, inexplicably, referred to as "cars" in the game") proceed along a track. So does your craft, and it is your responsibility to, through intersecting with the "cars", cause them to rest in the grid (shown above) congruent to other blocks of the same colour, such that they will explode into a lovely shower of shimmery things and points. Various point values give you "medals", and there is also an online scoreboard for every song which tracks performance. One needn't compete, but the option is there. Also, there are modifiers - weird things that paint the entire grid one hue (allowing massive combos), give a point multiplier, spawn blocks into the grid, etc. But they're not the point.

This was a poor choice on my part. It's hard to see in the screenshot, but I'm failing miserably. Whoops! (This is "mono" mode, not to be confused with the disease, in which one must only collect one colour, and avoid the gray. It is the hardest difficulty mono mode; thus my troubles.)

The point is that it is all to the music. The blocks are roughly synced, both in speed and value; on "jerkier" tracks, especially ones heavy on percussion, I have noted the track to almost lurch forward with the music. (It's cool.) The ship vibrates and bounces up and down; strange and alien shapes in the background spin and wind as the music plays. It is very strange but entirely integrated.

Flaws. Always some. Occasional bugs. Has problems with a few songs. (Not many.) Point values for medals are rather too high on shorter songs, too low on longer ones; three to four minutes is the sweetspot.

No real major flaw that I've found, though.

Anyway, the whole thing's $10. Also, there's a demo. Have a shot at it! You probably won't regret it.

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