Game Review: Beat da Beat (PC – Steam)

Rhythm and music based games are sometimes difficult to get into if the style of music isn’t to your choosing. Even popular music games like Rock Band, Guitar Hero, Just Dance and even Rocksmith for that matter can feel shallow in their offerings if the songs provided are not your cup of tea.

Beat Da Beat features some fantastic Electronic music that ranges from mellow soft tones to high energy dance fueled dubstep. Each of those beats corresponds to enemy attacks and other visual feats, making the music part of the games’ combat mechanics as well as its audible bliss.

While you start the game with your girlfriend being taken hostage by aliens, all that goes to the wayside as plot is dropped in favor of getting in your ship and fighting it out in space, collecting coins as you’ll use them to upgrade your ship or buy totally new ones.

The ship designs are fantastic, ranging from simple constructs to oddly complex. The visuals here are your typical pixel art craze that most Indy games are gravitating towards these days. While not wholly original, they look great, move with flashy colors, and serve their purpose quite well. Most of the ship variety comes in the method of which way the bullets leave the ship. You’ll start with single shot and then upgrade to your next ship which has a tri-shot blaster.

Upgrading the ships’ comes in 3 fancy flavors: Health, Bombs and Bullets. Health is pretty easy to guess what happens there, and same with Bullets. Bombs; however are screen clearing miracles that allow you to wipe the screen free of bullets and baddies. The upgrade and buying of new ships can easily feel grindy, and depending on how often you pick this up can feel like it’s taking forever to earn the better ships and upgrades. Most of the coins end up usually behind enemy fire and only partially cling to your ship if you manage to get in range. I’ve taken a few hits of health to gather the larger more productive coins and usually sacrifice the ones that are only worth one. It can take a while to earn the other ships and this is where the game starts to wear thin.

The aliens in the game usually have just a few attack patterns, and most of them stay completely still, making them easy targets. Some enemies have interesting dance patterns that allow them to be somewhat unpredictable, but at least the first 4-5 levels you’ll find each of your foes almost lining themselves up to be shot. Bosses are great and a few of them are really well designed battles with some interesting mechanics. There is even a slow down system that not only slows down the enemies, but the music as well.

The biggest problem with games centered around music is the repetition of the songs provided, and depending on your skill level, you’ll hear these tracks from the start over and over again. The tracks here by Waterflame, Levelate, Lone-X, JBroadway, and The Biocide are great and hugely entertaining, but after hearing them again and again and again with no change to their structure, they start to wear themselves out. I wish, upon starting up the game again to earn more coins, that you could use some coins to purchase ‘remix’ modes that would shake up the beats and tones to add a bit of variety to replaying the game. I felt I had to space out the game a bit each time I died so that I wouldn’t get sick of the hearing the same music replay all over again, which only helped a little.

Beat Da Beat is an interesting take on the music based genre. Its use of timing the beats to the enemies attacks is executed extremely well and the pixel art adds to the overall enjoyment of this unique experience. While the upgrade system is fairly shallow and the retread of hearing the tracks over and over again upon dying can get a bit annoying, Beat Da Beat is a solid if flawed gaming experience that you can easily find some enjoyment with.

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