Size DOES Matter Review

Size DOES Matter Review

Oct 1, 2014

I’ll cut to the chase: Size DOES Matter is a rhythm game, and it’s hard. I consider myself to be pretty handy when it comes to rhythm games. I’ve played an absolute most of them. OSU, Guitar Hero, DDR, Bit.Trip, tons of other, smaller indies – you name it. But I still wasn’t prepared for the level of difficulty that this deceivingly simple game reaches. It’s hard to believe that I had to give up roughly half-way through it, simply because I’m unable to proceed. Anyway.

Story, Locations and other distracting stuff are all absent from Size Does Matter, leaving just a style of 8-bit graphics and neon, spiced by excellent chiptune soundtrack. It’s got everything that old-school arcade players like, including throat-cutting difficulty. As for the gameplay, it’s rather simple: the player needs to guide a vertical bar through a labyrinth by squeezing through the openings in the “walls”. The bar can extend and contract to be 1, 3, and 5 squares tall, and can scroll up and down, one square per finger swipe. Each time a level starts, the player gets three “lives”, a life being lost every time the player doesn’t fit exactly into the opening – whether the bar is too big or too small. Even if the player loses all lives, he continues playing until the end of the level, but if he has any lives left afterwards, the level repeats, this time Size DOES Matter 4becoming stupidly, eyes-poppingly, finger-breakingly difficult. Why, you ask? For the scores, of course! Also, because the next levels only unlock if you reach a certain score in a level. Which is logical, considering they don’t get any easier.

One small problem I have with Size DOES Matter is an absence of button controls. There are swipe and tap controls, but swipe requires a bit too much actions, and tap controls don’t have any visible buttons, making them a lot less intuitive. On the other hand, most of the mistakes that I’ve made, I would probably make with buttons as well, but I’d feel a lot better if I wasn’t able to blame the control scheme for my mistakes.

In general Size Does Matter is a great game. It’s mainly for the fans of rhythm games, but it’s fun stuff with great music and barebones gameplay that will make the player clench his teeth a lot of the time.

Song of Hero Review

Song of Hero Review

May 8, 2014

Song of Hero is a rhythm RPG, a combination between rhythm games like Guitar Hero, and a role-playing game. The player needs to organize a 4-man battle band that fights against various monsters. The battle consists of several phases, as heroes and the monster take turns attacking and using special abilities – but for player, the task is always the same – just hit all upcoming beats on time, as they reach the end of their lanes. Although the outcome greatly depends on the player’s accuracy, it’s still possible to fail the battle if the monster isn’t beaten by the end of the playing song. The songs are about a minute and a half long, and although I couldn’t name a single performer, each one of the songs was of a good quality.

The band is composed of the member cards that can be purchased with special tickets, or unlocked after beating an enemy. Member cards can be exchanged, or be spent to upgrade another member card. There is also a number of special items that can increase the hero’s level or improve his stats. There are several stats each hero has: health, defense, Song of Hero 2attack, group and special ability. The first three are added together, resulting in the band’s total defense, attack and health. If there are several heroes from the same group in a band, the band gets a booster, like bonus health or attack. Special abilities charge and activate during the respective battle phase, and can heal, block or deal damage, or have some sort of different effect.

Song of Hero is free-to-play, so there are some annoying limitations, the most obvious of which is the energy that is required to play the levels, and is refilled over time. There’s an option, which probably becomes a requirement after a while, to replay levels in order to get more stars for the mission, as there are special awards that are granted for that, as well as bonus experience and gold. Overall, this game is a well-done continuation of the Band-Hero franchises and their descendants. To be fair, the concept is too good for a free-to-play implementation, and the graphics aren’t that impressive, but the game is certainly unusual and fun.

Dubstep Hero Review

Dubstep Hero Review

Mar 6, 2014

Many people, including myself, often ask just what the heck is Dubstep. The simplest explanation is that it’s a form of electronic/techno music that focuses on drum and percussion lines that focus on bass and sub bass frequencies. To some, it’s just a lot of noise. But to a growing number of folks, dubstep is the hottest musical trend, brought into the spotlight like artists such as Skrillex. Despite your feelings on the genre, there is no denying it’s growing popularity and adaptation in contemporary pop music.

Now, some of you will also remember for a moment when rhythm/ band karaoke games were all the rage. Titles such as Rock Band and Guitar Hero were quintessential titles to have if you owned a gaming console. However, those times are a thing of the past, with interest in those games being as great as public opinion of freemium games. But that doesn’t stop some indie devs from making games similar to the old popular rhythm titles, such as Brus Media’s Dubstep Hero, which brings the world of Dubstep to the once loved rhythm game style.

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Dubstep Hero uses the familiar 5 different colored circles that designate which notes to hit for whichever song you are playing. Also, just like those two aforementioned console titles, colored notes will come flying at you based on the beat of the song. However, the similarities between the three games end there.

Dubstep Hero is a very watered down version of Rock Band or Guitar Hero. The art and game presentation aren’t all that spectacular. The score and multiplier text are also extremely hard to read, and the game doesn’t give great feedback as to whether or not you actually scored on any notes. This game also has limited features unless you pony up money. If you do unlock the full game, you’ll get the opportunity to import your own tracks, on top of the many tracks you can buy for download. You can also add other customizations, but many can get away without dropping a penny. That is, unless you are a big Dubstep enthusiast.

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Dubstep Hero is an alright game for the price and for what it is. As a Rock Band/ Guitar Hero clone, it’s very ordinary, and very much lacking in a lot of options, such as changing the difficulty. The graphics and overall presentation are extremely vanilla and terribly uninspiring. This title just feels so plain, lacking any originality to it, but plenty of wub-wub-wub.

Soul Fjord for Ouya Review

Soul Fjord for Ouya Review

Jan 28, 2014

Soul Fjord, from Kim Swift’s Airtight Games, her being known for helping design Portal, has been anticipated on the Ouya as one of its exclusives that could help justify the platform. After all, Towerfall remained the best reason to have an Ouya for all these months. Soul Fjord comes to the plate with a concept that’s almost too cool: a beat ’em up with roguelike elements with rhythm-based combat that’s set in a hybrid blaxploitation and Norse mythology universe. It just doesn’t quite live up to it.

Soul Fjord has players controlling Magnus Jones, a righteous dude who dies, goes to Valhalla to party in the afterlife, but gets rejected by a no-good doorman. So, he has to fight his way back up Yggdrasil to get into Valhalla by force. It won’t be easy, as every time he fails, he returns to the beginning of his quest with no gold, and only the items that were bound to his soul.

The combat is a combo-based hack ‘n slash system: there’s two attack buttons and a block button that can be timed to enemy attacks or used to dodge. There’s also a rhythm bar below Magnus on screen, and players must time their attacks and blocks to this rhythm bar to do maximum damage, with critical attacks and enemy stuns possible by timing to this meter.

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The key problem with Soul Fjord to a great degree is that mixture of the rhythm and beat ’em up elements. When facing an enemy one-on-one, the rhythm parts work great, as there’s a great flow to the combat. When fighting groups of enemies, or ones that move around a lot, that’s where the combat breaks down and stops being much fun. Keeping track of not just the rhythm meter, but also who’s attacking and from where is just tricky. As well, the items, which provide helpful boosts, can be tricky to discern their effect from just the icon alone.

The controls could use some remapping – having the top Y button serve as the critical attack button can throw one off, because it’s such an extended stretch of the thumb that it throws off my rhythm, at least. If it was set to B, it would work better. Having to switch items with the d-pad and trigger with the shoulder buttons just feels odd. A game so focused on rhythm should be consciously avoiding breaking the player’s mental rhythm.

Soul Fjord is free-to-play, and surprisingly – if not exceedingly – fair in doing so. A coin doubler can be had at launch for 20 records, the game’s hard currency, and that’s a $1.99 IAP to get enough, or even just playing a bit in the game to collect them. Records being attainable through actual play feels good. As well, the chests which contain special items are a good bargain, as they usually contain very good items and they will remain upon death if equipped – normally, this costs 5 records, and the chests are usually 7. The one thing the game’s lacking that would both improve player satisfaction and monetization would be a revive feature: I know I would spend some records to continue some of my runs.

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Soul Fjord dreams big, with its groovy theme and unique idea mixture, it just doesn’t quite pay off. It’s a free download for Ouya owners, and is worth at least that, but it may prove to be more frustrating than groovy.

Audionaut Review

Audionaut Review

Nov 6, 2013

Audiosurf is a little indie game that’s quite loved among game critics. It is a PC title that puts users into a space ship which must hit all of the beats dictated by whatever song is playing. The neat thing about Audiosurf is that a user’s own mp3 collection can be used, rather than having to play from pre-selected songs. Audiosurf also boasts a way better menu system for selecting those songs than a game like Beat Hazard Ultra.

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Alas, Audiosurf is not available on Android. However, a comparable substitute, which shares many of the same game mechanics and themes, is available on the Google-powered mobile OS, going by the name of Audionaut. This game, which just released in early October exclusively onto the Google Play store, has players take the role of an audionaut, which appears to be a little figure flying through space on a mission to collect magical musical notes corresponding to the beat of a song of the player’s choice, just so long as it is on their device.

This small indie title differs from Audiosurf in a couple of different ways. In Audionaut there are moments when your little flying guy or girl (the game doesn’t really indicate either way) must hit jumps in order to catch musical notes in the sky. Players move the little astronaut on 5 different paths, collecting notes, but avoiding barriers, which they can fly outside of these paths temporarily in order to avoid obstacles. Also setting Audionaut apart from its other counterparts is the fact that Audionaut gives you power ups to boost your score, based on how many consecutive notes you’ve collected. It resembles using star power in Guitar Hero or Rock Band games.

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Visually speaking, Audionaut isn’t all that impressive. The little flying character doesn’t look like much and the atmosphere you fly through doesn’t change at all from song to song in terms of its looks or colors used. That can make this game come off as a bit repetitive at times, though the game does change the layout of the levels based on the song one chooses.

There isn’t a lot of good games in the Google Play store that incorporate one’s music on their device, nor a lot of spectacular rhythm titles. However, this tiny indie title known as Audionaut allows one to incorporate their music library on their phone or tablet, giving players a Audiosurf or Guitar Hero like experience. While it doesn’t appear that this game allows players to use cloud music services like Amazon Cloud Player or Google Music, one can select from any mp3s they may have stored on their device and are greeted with awesome challenging levels in which they must guide an audionaut to safety while collecting musical notes. It’s a fairly simple concept without any frills to it, but Audionaut offers players a lot of fun with a low price, as well as a small learning curve but a giant package of fun.

Bit.Trip Beat Review

Bit.Trip Beat Review

Oct 30, 2012

Ever play a game, then come back to it a long time later and find your reaction completely changed to it? Well, Bit.Trip Beat caused that to happen to me, for one big reason. This rhythm-meets-Pong game just never really clicked with me before, as I found it too difficult to control and thus enjoy.

Now, when I’ve played Bit.Trip Beat before, it’s usually been on normal. I’m a big manly man, I don’t like my games easy. I’ve played it on iPhone, iPad, and 3DS, and it never really stuck with me. Maybe the controls weren’t accurate enough, or the game felt unfairly hard, or whatever it was. It just never clicked. Then, the game was part of a previous Humble Bundle for Android, and it found its way on to my Nexus 7. One day, when trying to clear space off of it (why did I buy the 8 GB version?) I figured I might as well play it once before I cast it into purgatory. Sure, there’s a sunk cost fallacy working in my brain over “not wanting to waste the bandwidth” but hey, I’m sure the Humble folks would appreciate it too. So, I sit down and play it.

Lo and behold, I’m doing well and I’m actually enjoying it.

The 7“ screen size seems to be the perfect combination for the touch controls between getting easier range of motion like on a phone, but not blocking the screen like on a 10” tablet. The in-between size works very well for the game. Maybe that was it?

Well, it turns out that for some reason, I had the difficulty set to Easy. Likely came that way. And as I beat two of the three worlds that contain songs, I realized something: I was having fun. Since the challenge was staying out of the way of enjoyment, I actually thought that the game’s unique concept was enjoyable and accessible. If turning a game down to easy, making it more forgiving but also enabling less-skilled players to actually progress, then where’s the shame in that? I finally found some enjoyment out of Bit.Trip Beat by unintentionally toning it down, and it feels great.

So, to those that may not have played this yet – it’s been around the block, you probably own multiple platforms that can play the game – I say, its combination of Pong and rhythm gaming is interesting enough, check it out. Just play the game on easy first.