enfrdeitptrues

Rhythm

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Aaero
    Developed by: Mad Fellows Games
    Published by: Reverb Triple XP
    Release date: April 11, 2017
    Available on: PS4, Windows, Xbox One
    Genre: Rhythm rail shooter
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $14.99

    Thank you Mad Fellows Games for sending us a review code of this game!

    Earlier this year a successful Kickstarter was launched to bring Aaero to Steam along with its PS4 and Xbox One counterparts.  For a two-man development team, I’m impressed with the outcome and I’m sure that the backers will be pleased with the final product as well, as long as they like dubstep music.

    Aaero is a rhythm rail shooter game where you must guide your ship along the music rails when they’re present or else your ship will lose one of its three shields.  These shields are sacred and are not replaceable in the level. When you lose all three you’ll have to start over from the beginning.

    Shields can be lost by hitting an obstacle or by sustaining an attack from enemy aircraft.  Some areas of the map are open and you can freely fly, while many areas, including the inside of a giant sand worm, are very cramped with partially blocked pathways.  Sometimes the path closes in on you and you have to quickly steer towards the remaining opening.  Other times there are helpful arrows to let you know which direction to head toward.  Last but not least are the completely cheap deaths/shield depletions from areas closing in on you without any warning whatsoever.

    Aaero
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun rhythm rail shooter game
    Weak Points: If you don’t like dubstep you’ll find the music annoying
    Moral Warnings: Spaceship violence

    Enemy aircraft and their attacks can be targeted and shot at with the right joystick.  Your ship can shoot several shots at once, which is quite helpful but never enough when multiple enemies lock in on you simultaneously.  If you enjoy boss fights, you’ll be happy to know that there are some in this game.

    At the end of each of the fifteen levels, you’ll be scored on the percentage of time you’ve spent on the music rails, how many enemies you have killed, and by how many of the optional targets you have destroyed.  There are online leaderboards to compare your score with everyone else’s and don’t worry, I won’t be much of a threat.  Aside from aiming for higher scores, you’ll also want to unlock the most stars possible for each song since they’re required to unlock other tracks/songs in the game.  

    While I played on the default/Normal difficulty, there are several more including Advanced, Master, and Chill Out.  You can play Chill Out at any time, but you’ll need to have a 90% completion on the Normal difficulty to play advanced and 100% to enjoy the Master mode.

    Aaero
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The controls are pretty simple, but mastering this game will take some patience and skill.  The left joystick is required for staying on the music track/ribbon.  I like how parts of the song play and fade away depending on if you’re on the ribbon or not.  The right joystick is for locking in on enemy targets and the trigger fires your weapons at them.  Doing all of this simultaneously while staying on the fluctuating track takes some serious coordination and precision.  

    It’s no secret that I’m getting older and my hands quickly got tired after playing three or so tracks.  If you can handle more than that in one sitting, count your blessings!  People dealing with carpal tunnel may want to play this game on another platform or skip it altogether.  

    Other than the first song which got a bit repetitive since it was used for the tutorial as well as first mission, the majority of the game’s music is pretty pretty good... if you like dubstep, that is.  If you don’t like electronic music or dubstep, you’ll probably want to pass on this game.

    Since I’m a sucker for music games, I enjoyed Aaero and recommend it to anyone who likes space shooters and rhythm based games.  Other than shooting down spaceships, this game is suitable for pilots of all ages.  I look forward to upcoming titles from Mad Fellows Games.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Akihabara - Feel the Rhythm
    Developed by: JMJ Interactive
    Published by: JMJ Interactive
    Release date: January 26, 2017
    Available on: Windows
    Number of players: Single-player
    Genre: Rhythm
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $6.99

    Thank you JMJ Interactive for sending us this game to review!

    Rhythm and puzzle matching games have been around for a while. Akihabara - Feel the Rhythm combines the genres into a match 4 game that requires you to move around the blocks to the beat of the music for a combination bonus.  Like most rhythm games, you’re given a rating of perfect, good, or bad depending on your timing when shuffling around the various colored or patterned blocks.

    When you start the campaign mode you’ll get a text-based tutorial of the basic gameplay.  Like Tetris, blocks will fall down in rows of four.  A bar will slide across them and if you press a button on or off beat, the selected block will be swapped out with the one that’s in the preview box on the upper left hand side of the screen.  When four similar blocks are touching they will vanish and clear room for more.  If the blocks build up too high, it’s game over.  Continuing is an option, but you’ll take a score penalty that increments with each continue used.  

    Akihabara - Feel the Rhythm
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great soundtrack; interesting combination of rhythm and matching games
    Weak Points: Unusual gamepad controls; crashes when exiting the game; low-resolution
    Moral Warnings: None

    I’ll be the first to admit that I am not good at this game.  So the continue option is the only way I was able to advance through most of the campaign.  The soundtrack is great and worth purchasing if you like electronic dance music.  You can play songs individually after they have been unlocked in the campaign mode.  

    Some Steam features like trading cards and achievements are implemented, but sadly there is no cloud save functionality.  The progress I made on my desktop did not transfer over to my laptop computer.  The leaderboards are nice, but my name won’t be on there anytime soon.

    Akihabara - Feel the Rhythm
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 80%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The visuals are nice, but are rather low resolution and there are no options to increase the screen resolution at all.  Another weird quirk is that this game would crash whenever I exited from it using my desktop.  My laptop didn’t experience that issue though.  

    Akihabara - Feel the Rhythm has full controller support and I was able to play it using my Xbox One controller and my Steel Series Stratus XL.  The XYAB buttons work in the game but the button to make selections in the game menu is the start button.  The D-pad works as expected, but the joysticks are not usable.  

    There are no moral issues worth mentioning and this game is suitable for rhythm game lovers of all ages.  While this is an interesting combination of puzzle and rhythm game genres, I am not sure if it’s a good fit for me.  I’m good at those genres individually, but when combined I’m horrible at it.  Despite being bad at this title, I still enjoyed playing it.  The price is a reasonable $6.99 and worth keeping an eye on if it goes on sale.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Dance Central Spotlight
    Developed by: Harmonix
    Published by: Microsoft
    Release Date: September 2, 2014
    Available on: Xbox One
    Genre: Rhythm
    Number of players: Up to two players
    ESRB Rating:Teen for Mild Lyrics
    Price: $9.99

    I haven't played a Harmonix game since Guitar Hero, and after playing Dance Central Spotlight I was quickly reminded about how awesome they are at making music based games.  There are many great videogames that provide good exercise routines.  If you like to work out to music there's options like Dance Dance Revolution, Just Dance, Zumba, and Dance Central.

    Dance Central, along with its two sequels, have been around since the Xbox 360 and is an Xbox exclusive.  Like its predecessors, Dance Central Spotlight requires a Kinect camera and is only available on the Xbox One.  Having played a couple of iterations of Just Dance, I must say that Dance Central Spotlight is much better.  The dance moves are not as corny.

    Like Just Dance, you have to mirror the moves that the dancer on the screen is doing.  If you mimic the move flawlessly, it will be added to your move collection.  New dance routines are unlocked as you collect more and more moves.  Each song has eight routines available for it.

    While the game's price is a reasonable $10, it doesn't come with many songs.  You are encouraged to build your own work library for $2.00 a song.  If you want to save fifty cents you can buy packs of three prearranged songs for $5.49. 

    Here's a list of the included tracks:

    • #thatPOWER
    • Counting Stars
    • Diamonds
    • Happy
    • I Wish
    • Royals
    • Show Me
    • Talk Dirty
    • Titanium
    • Wake Me Up
    Dance Central Spotlight
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun dancing game with many dance routines to unlock; very accurate
    Weak Points: Comes with only ten songs; Kinect camera occasionally gets confused and shuffles or drops players
    Moral Warnings: Some songs have sexual references;  suggestive dance moves

    Out of the starter songs, Counting Stars, Diamonds, and Happy are my favorites.  The other songs are alright but from the get go there are some suggestive themes and lyrics.  Some of the dance moves use hip and chest thrusts. 

    The remainder of the songs are up to the buyer to purchase and thankfully the Xbox One provides methods of securing purchases so I don't have to worry about my kids expanding the workout library without my knowledge.  I did add Psy's Gangnam Style to my collection for them though.

    There are lots of artists to get more tracks from including Bruno Mars, Fat Boy Slim,  Janet Jackson, Justin Beiber, Lady Gaga,  Maroon 5, One Direction, and Selena Gomez.  Most of the songs are from this millennium but a few oldies are thrown in like A-ha's Take On Me.   

    Dance Central Spotlight
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 3/5

    Morality Score - 91%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    While two dollars a song may seem expensive, there are eight routines per song so you can get a lot of moves and calories burned with each purchase.  Each song has four classic routines (beginner, standard, deluxe, and pro), two fitness routines (strength and cardio), and two random routines.  One of the random routines I unlocked was called manly.  The moves were still not manly enough for my husband to complete a whole song.  

    My kids and mom were eager to join me in multiplayer in his absence though.   A second player can easily join by waving their hand when the screen prompts that a second player has been detected.  While it is easy for people to join in, keeping them in the game is another story.  Sometimes the Kinect loses track of a player and will drop them.  Worse yet, when they get re-added to the game, the scores, players, and positions may get swapped!    

    Another annoyance is the game's camera controls.  You can navigate the menu and choose your character and song title without using a controller, but the problem is that this method isn't perfect.  So  many times the wrong character was selected and the song was started without the ability to confirm or change the selection.   For accuracy I used a game controller when playing by myself, but there is no multi-controller support with multiple players.  

    Despite some minor annoyances, my workouts have been fun and productive while playing Dance Central Spotlight.  I like the option to build my own library.  However I wish the starter songs were all family friendly.  The $9.99 asking price is very reasonable and I highly recommend this title if you're looking for a fun way to burn some calories.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Drums Hero
    Developed by: Player of Music Technology
    Published by: Player of Music Technology
    Release date: March 23, 2017
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift
    Genre: Rhythm
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you Player of Music Technology for sending us this game and Indie Music Pack DLC bundle to review!

    In virtual reality, you can be almost anything and anywhere you want to be. While I haven’t played the VR version of Rock Band, I have enjoyed the PS4 version. Any aspiring drummer should seriously look into this title. It’s a lot quieter than a full drum setup so parents may want to keep this game in mind as well.

    I’ll confess that I haven’t played drums much so I don’t know the specifics, but after playing the pro level songs I have a new respect for drummers. All of the drum pieces seem to be represented: tom-toms, bass drum, cymbals, and a snare drum. There is also a wide variety of songs and genres to play.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun gameplay; good selection and variety of music; online leaderboards
    Weak Points: Not all of the songs have lyrics displayed; detection isn’t 100% accurate
    Moral Warnings: Some of the songs reference chasing skirts and one night stands

    The music is provided by indie artists and though I never heard of any of them, I did enjoy the quality and selection provided. Most of the sounds are hard and rock styles, but there are some pop and electronic tracks to play as well. Since this game’s release there have been more songs added and I look forward to the library continuing to grow.

    Not surprisingly, Drums Hero plays very similarly to Guitar Hero. The music track is laid out like a road with notes coming toward your drum set. You have to hit the corresponding drum part which it lines up with it on the bottom of the screen. The appropriate drums will illuminate when it’s almost time to use them. Some of the songs have their lyrics displayed but most of them do not unfortunately.

    There are different drum sets and I prefer the futuristic space themed layout over the music stage set. The default theme has the sides of the music track changing colors as you get a higher and higher multiplier combo. I like how you can pause the game easily if you get a phone call or a kitten stuck to your dangling wrist straps.

    Drums Hero
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 94%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 7/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    Depending on your timing, you will get a perfect, great, good, or a miss rating. At the end of the song, you will receive a grade that is based off of your final score. If your computer is online, your ranking and score will automatically be submitted and compared on the online leaderboards. I don’t anticipate knocking out the top two hundred score holders anytime soon.

    Visually, Drums Hero looks good and the interface is pretty easy to use. I learned the hard way not to launch the game from the Oculus software as it would hang and fail to start up. I also had to launch the game multiple times in Steam if the controllers are not detected (despite Steam VR saying they’re present).

    The controls are pretty responsive though depth perception on my end could be to blame for most of the misses. With that said, I could have sworn I hit the proper drum at the correct time and did not get credit for it on multiple occasions. This could also be attributed to tracking issues.

    In the end, my experience with Drums Hero has been a positive one. My son and nephew enjoyed playing it and the songs from what I can tell are family friendly. I didn’t recall hearing any cussing though there is a reference to chasing skirts and one night stands. On the flipside, one of the songs seemed to have a Christian message to it. If you enjoy drums, indie music, and VR, Drums Hero is worth checking out!

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Floor Kids
    Developed by: MERJ Media
    Published by: MERJ Media
    Release date: May 16,2018
    Available on: macOS, Switch, Windows
    Genre: Rhythm, Sports
    Number of Players: Up to two
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you MERJ Media for sending us this game to review!

    Floor Kids is a surprisingly deep rhythm breakdancing game. Your goal is to win over crowds in various locales by dancing with funk, flavor, flow, and flyness. You have to keep your moves fresh and not do the same thing over and over again. The crowd will occasionally make requests, and if you honor them, you’ll get some points that help toward earning more stars for your performance.

    If you receive at least three stars for a song, you’ll get a player card that can be used to unlock a new character if all four of their cards are collected. Each of the eight dancers have different specialties in the four dancing categories: Top Rock, Down Rock, Power, and Freeze. New venues open up when their star requirements are met. One of the final venues requires seventy stars and all of the dancers to be unlocked.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun and unique breakdancing game; local multiplayer
    Weak Points: No online play
    Moral Warnings: None!

    Each location has several levels with different music tracks for everyone. The soundtrack is quite good and available for purchase on Steam for $8.99. At the beginning of the stage you’ll get a countdown and it’s up to you to feel the rhythm and dance to it. Every song has a couple of chorus sections where you’ll have to press the X button where indicated and mash it repeatedly shortly afterward. These sections are worth big points so you won’t want to take them too lightly. There’s a Steam achievement for earning a perfect score on one. I haven’t unlocked that achievement yet, but I did get one for acing both chorus sections in a song.

    To earn a lot of points you’ll need to weave your moves together with style and keep the crowd happy. If you mix up the dance styles you’ll earn freshness points. Thankfully, the crowd requests aren’t specific, but the chain combos are. I’ve been more of a button masher so I haven’t put enough effort into learning each of the moves intentionally. According to the Steam achievements, I have unlocked all of the characters’ moves on accident though!

    Floor Kids
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The unfinished hand-drawn artwork is really neat. I like the look and feel of this game. The characters are nicely animated and the venues are unique. Though the music isn’t my style, it does fit the game nicely.

    There’s plenty to do if you’re playing solo. If you have a friend nearby you can challenge them to a dance battle in the local multiplayer mode. This mode is more challenging with the "burn" mechanic. As your opponent is dancing you can charge up a burn by tapping to the beat. Once the burn meter is full, you can attempt to burn your opponent and knock them down for points. The person dancing can temporarily use a shield to block an attack, but the timing has to be precise to be effective. The chorus mode is shared for both dancers. The breakdancer with the most points at the end of the song wins.

    Floor Kids is suitable for want-to-be breakdancers of all ages. You’ll have plenty of fun mashing buttons, but to get good you’ll have to memorize and stylize all of the moves at your disposal. The asking price of $19.99 is a bit steep, but I have seen it on sale for less than $14 and it’s worth it at that price point.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    FourChords Guitar Karaoke
    Developed by: Musopia
    Published by: Musopia
    Release Date: July 19, 2016
    Available on: Android, iOS, PC, Mac, SteamOS/Linux
    Genre: Edutainment
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $14.99

    Thank you Musopia for sending us this game to review!

    I really enjoyed playing Guitar Hero and Rock Band when they first came out.  When multiple instruments were introduced, I still stuck with the guitar.  Even though my mom and brother knew how to play guitar, I never expressed interest until a video game offered to teach me.  That game is FourChords Guitar Karaoke.  

    Unlike Rock Band or Guitar Hero, you will not be playing in five minutes if you’ve never played a real guitar before.  Before you can play any song you will have to learn at least three chords and have your fingers prepared for the strain that will be placed upon them.  Not only will your fingers be stretched in new ways, they will also endure some pain by holding down metal strings repeatedly.  It will take a few weeks to develop some callouses on them.    

    If you’re okay with the time and pain requirements, there’s a lot to like in FourChords Guitar Karaoke.  Since this game is in early access, it’s hard to say what the final version will have, but bundled into it at the time of this review are one hundred and ten songs broken into four categories. All of the songs are available from the start and you don't have to unlock any of them. 

     
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great way to learn how to strum and play guitar; instructional videos from JustinGuitar.com are integrated into the program
    Weak Points: Computer generated songs without vocals are used
    Moral Warnings: Some of the included songs have mild language (hell/d*mn) and suggestive themes; drinking references

    The categories are Traditional/Starter, Country Starter, Rock Starter and Pop Starter.  The song selection is pretty good and there should be something for everyone to enjoy.  The mobile versions are free and allow the users to build up their music library by purchasing songs of their own choosing.  I’m curious what DLC offerings will be available for this title down the road.  

    The song list can be filtered by the chords you know, but I also enjoyed playing songs that I liked even though I couldn’t play them fully yet.  When selecting a song, you will see the chords and have the option of seeing a tutorial video (courtesy of JustinGuitar.com) for each of the chords used.  There is also a fingering chart for chords, and one and three string finger positions.  You can also view and learn the strumming technique and change the BPM to your liking

    Some songs like Amazing Grace, House of the Rising Sun, and I’m Yours have a simple down strum technique while other songs have more complex ones.  The Holy Grail Strum (down down up up down) is used by many songs including Get Lucky, Counting Stars, Born to Be Wild, Don't Stop Belivein', and Sweet Child of Mine.  The song Royals (known by me as Weird Al’s Foil) uses Basic 16ths strumming (down down up down down down up down down down).  An intermediate 16ths strum (down down down up up down up down down down up) is used in Me and My Broken Heart and Higher.  Even though Oh! Susanna has three chords, it’s a rather fast song at 160BPM and has a unique strumming pattern called Shoot em' ups (down down down up down up).  I recommend focusing on learning and transitioning chords and sticking with simple down strums at the beginning.   

    FourChords Guitar Karaoke
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 84%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 7/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    Some of the songs listed above  have moral issues worth mentioning.  I love Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours, but it does have the word d*mn in the lyrics. Other songs like Get Lucky and Me and My Broken Heart have sexual references in them.  Last but not least, House of the Rising Sun talks about drinking and gambling.  Amazing Grace is in the song list so they’re not all bad.

    The songs are computer generated and are not what you hear on the radio.  There is no actual singing as the game expects you to do it!  Singing is purely optional and I just focused on playing the guitar.  No matter how well you play or sing, the game will say that you rocked upon completion.  If you're into Steam trading cards, they're available in this game.  

    Even if you don’t care for the Karaoke aspect of this game, it’s an excellent teaching tool and I highly recommend it for any aspiring guitar players out there.  The Early Access price of $14.99 is very reasonable.  The free teaching video series by JustinGuitar.com is excellent and run by a donation honor system.  I recommend learning the G, D, and C chords from there so you can play a few of the songs from the get go.

     

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Gal Metal
    Developed by: DMM Games
    Published by: Marvelous
    Release date: October 30, 2018
    Available on: Switch
    Genre: Rhythm
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Teen for fantasy violence and suggestive themes
    Price: $29.99

    Thank you Marvelous for sending us this game to review!

    Earth is under attack from the Octoid alien race and it’s up to a high school boy and girl who get fused together in the female’s body to save the world. As luck would have it, the girl happens to be the president of the Kichijoji Metal Girls band and the aliens are vulnerable to the metal particles produced from their heavy metal music. As the drummer of the band, the power to save the universe is in your hands!

    Gal Metal can be played in one of two ways. The easier way to play the game is in the Noodle mode where you get to move the Joy-Cons air drum style. There’s a limit to the noises you can make in that mode, but the patterns and rhythms are endless. In Drum mode, there’s a drum set on the screen and you can tap the various drum components to make a more complex beat. Experienced and aspiring drummers may prefer that method.

    In total, there are thirteen sets to play, and before facing off against the alien invaders, you get to choose how to spend your time to prepare for “battle.” At the beginning of each day, you’ll participate in a group chat with your fellow bandmates and discuss various lighthearted topics. The text moves pretty fast at times and it’s hard to keep up with the conversation as a result. You’ll often be prompted to provide input on the discussion which may determine the popular hangout place or story sequence for that day.

    Gal Metal
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Cheaper and quieter alternative to a real drum set
    Weak Points: The campaign isn’t very long, but you can still do free play mode and/or master the two different drum styles
    Moral Warnings: Minor language (hell); cartoon violence; some mild sexual humor as a high school boy and girl are sharing the same girl’s body

    Each day you get forty stamina points which can be spent doing solo or group practices, working, or hanging out/playing around town. If you choose an activity that one of your bandmates is doing you’ll strengthen your relationship with them. As your friendship develops you’ll unlock story sequences that are usually pretty funny to watch. The activities you choose also impact your various playing stats: Morality, Kvit, Activity, Passion, and Guts. These stats impact your score and can make or break the final results in battle. By working, you’ll boost one stat, while other options will add to one stat and reduce the other. There are in-game achievements for increasing your stats and friendship levels. When all of your stamina for the day is spent, the day will end and progress the main story.

    If you just want to jam without the story, you can practice or free play the individual tracks from the main menu. The control scheme can also be adjusted from the menu but you have to be configured for the currently selected one in order to change it to the other. For example, if you’re in Noodle mode you have to have the Joy-Cons unattached in order to change to the Drum mode.

    The 2D paper cutout/comic book style artwork is neat. The main story is shown via comic book panels and the daytime events have a Paper Mario feel to them.

    Gal Metal
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 76%
    Gameplay - 13/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 8/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 82%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 8/10
    Sexual Content - 8/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    There isn’t any voice acting, but the backtracks for the songs more than make up for it. My favorite track is the Beethoven’s Ode to Joy themed one called Distorted Synopsis of Joy. After every battle you can watch a replay of your performance. I wasn’t inclined to re-watch my performance and I agree with the after-performance critiques of my drumming to be either repetitive or off rhythm.

    Morally speaking, Gal Metal is pretty tame as long as you don’t mind heavy metal music. One of the songs has the word ‘hell’ in the title. With the premise of the boy and girl sharing the same body there could have been way more sexual jokes in this title, but none of them come to mind. The PG-rated movie Your Name had more objectionable content in that regard.

    In the end, Gal Metal is a short but fun rhythm game. It’s much cheaper than a drum set so it may scratch that itch for an aspiring drummer. The asking price is $29.99 which is a tad steep for a story mode that can be completed in three hours. Granted, the Noodle mode does get tiring after a while so breaks are recommended. Switching between the Noodle and Drum mode may extend the gameplay somewhat. With that said, if you like drumming and rhythm games, Gal Metal is worth checking out. If you’re unsure, it’s best to wait for a sale.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone
    Developed by: Sega
    Published by:  Sega
    Release date: January 10, 2017
    Available on: PS4
    Genre: Rhythm
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Teen 
    Price: $53.99 for all of the songs

    Thank you Sega for sending us a review copy of this game! 

    The virtual popstar Hatsune Miku and her vocaloid (all of the voices are synthesized!) friends are back and upping the ante in this rhythm game.  The same gameplay that Hatsune fans enjoy is there, but with five difficulties and two hundred and twenty-four songs to test your skills on.  Those who love customizing Hatsune Miku and her friends will not be disappointed with the three hundred plus modules/outfits available for purchase with in-game currency earned by successfully completing songs.  

    Like many rhythm games, you’ll have to match the floating notes with their corresponding button presses.  For example, the floating X will require you to press the X on the controller when it’s lined up perfectly to its matching icon.  To help out, the icons have spinning second hands; the button should be pressed when they're in the 12 o'clock position.  The joystick or triggers will be required when their orange icons are displayed.  Just in case that wasn’t enough to keep track of, there are various combinations to master as well.  The combinations are often used in the featured mode that requires perfect execution in order to successfully pull off a costume change mid-song.  Big points and completion rewards are given for mastering this technique.  

    Each song has two status bars that you have to pay attention to.  The life bar on top is added for each Cool, Good, and Safe rating.  When you get a Bad, Miss, or press the wrong button, the life bar gets depleted a bit.  If the life bar is fully drained you’ll fail the song unless you have the “No Fail” option enabled.  The bottom status bar shows the song completion percentage and how close you are to completing or exceeding the minimum passing requirements.  Anything less than 50% does not count as completed.  You will still get ten points/virtual currency for attempting and failing a song.  Several hundred points are awarded for successfully completing a song and you get more points for doing so at harder difficulties. 

    Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Extensive collection of songs and more challenging gameplay 
    Weak Points: Two hundred and twenty-four songs and they did not include my favorite one!
    Moral Warnings: Skimpy outfits including bikinis and speedos can be worn by the singers; Halloween themed outfits

    The currency can be used to purchase outfits, hair styles and various accessories to customize Hatsune Miku, Kagamine Rin, Kagamine Len, Magurine Luka, KAITO, MEIKO, Akita Neru, Kasane Teto, Sekine Meiko, and Yowane Haku.  You can make the characters look like pirates, ninjas, goddesses, school girls/boys, Santa, cats, clowns and plenty more.  There are even Sega tribute outfits like Sonic and Valkyria Chronicles themed ones.  Some of the outfits are swimwear based (bikinis and speedos) and expose more skin than covering it.  Whatever outfit and character is selected will be used in the rhythm game performance.  

    The visuals are great in this game and the character detail and animations are top notch.  I like how you have the option to just watch the music videos to appreciate them without focusing on mashing buttons in time.  There’s also a practice mode if you need to improve your skills a bit.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 92%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 87%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

     

    The songs are all sung in Japanese and the lyrics are shown in Romanji which shows the Japanese sounds in a Western alphabet.  Since I am not fluent in Japanese, I have no idea what the meaning of most of the songs are.  Many are love themed and some of them even talk about cats.  A few of the songs have a darker tone and could be a contributing factor to its Teen rating from the ESRB.  

    While I didn’t do bad, there were some songs that I failed on normal difficulty.  I typically earned a C on my performances, but Nyanyanyanyanyanyanya! with its tempo changes was too much for me the few times I tried it.  Despite my mediocre performances, I still had fun and that's what counts.  There are plenty of songs to choose from and most of them consist of pop music, but there are some rock, dance, reggae, and even polka songs. Despite my favorite song not being in this game, the selection is still great and bound to please any Hatsune Miku fan.  

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X
    Developed by: Crypton Future Media
    Published by: SEGA
    Release date: August 30, 2016
    Available on: PS4, Vita
    Genre: Rhythm
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB rating: Teen for lyrics and mild suggestive themes
    Price: $39.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you SEGA for proving us with a review code for this game and its DLC!

    Hatsune Miku and her friends are vocaloids whose singing is generated via vocaloid software. Even though Hatsune Miku is a fictional sixteen-year-old with turquoise colored hair, she has quite the fan base. She has been featured in over 100,000 songs world-wide.  In Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X you initially play as Hatsune Miku, but can quickly unlock the ability to sing as Kagamine Rin, Kagamine Len, Megurine Luka, KAITO, and MEIKO.  

    The story is simple yet functional.  In Hatsune Miku’s universe there are five prism clouds (Classic, Cool, Cute, Elegant, and Quirky) and they have lost their illumination.  In order to recharge and re-connect the prisms Hatsune Miku and her friends must sing to generate voltage.  Each themed cloud has a total of six songs that must be sung in order to unlock and reconnect the next area.  Out of the six songs, five of them are playable at the beginning with the final song being slightly harder as a finale.  The finale is a mashup of several songs (all sung in Japanese) and is slightly more difficult than the regular songs.

    Like many rhythm games, you’ll have to match the floating notes with their corresponding button presses.  For example, the floating X will require you to press the X on the controller when it’s lined up perfectly to its matching icon.  To help out, the icons have spinning second hands that should have the button pressed with they’re in the 12’O Clock position.  Star icons require you to press one of the joysticks in any direction when aligned with the floating stars.  Colored floating arrows need you to press the corresponding directional arrow along with the colored symbol it’s associated with.  Last but not least are rush icons that need you to mash a particular button for a short period of time.  

    Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun rhythm game with plenty of song variety and customization options; cross save support
    Weak Points: DLC song songs are available for $2.99 each
    Moral Warnings: Some songs have dark/depression themes; blaspheming; magic, goddess, and Halloween references; skimpy outfits and swimwear

    In the beginning there are only two difficulties available: Easy and Normal.  In the easy mode you typically only have to deal with one button type and normal has you working with two.  After illuminating all five of the cloud prisms, the last two difficulties, Hard and Extreme, become unlocked.  Naturally, they require you to master handling more buttons in the songs. 

    The main story will take less than eight hours to complete, but there is still plenty more to do once you illuminate all of the cloud prisms again.  You can unlock a final song by playing songs again to earn crystals in each of the galaxies.  There is also a Free Play mode where you can play the songs without having to worry about reaching the minimum voltage level.  The Technical and Chance zones are still in the songs though.  In order to complete a Technical Zone you have to have Cool or Good ratings on the predetermined set of notes.  Getting a Safe, Bad, or Miss ends the zone.  The Chance Zone isn’t as picky but you do have to finish the zone by getting the last star note.  If completed, the Chance Zone will have your character change outfits mid-song and net you a ton of voltage points. 

    For each completed song you’ll earn prizes and modules to change into and accessorize with.    Before each song you’ll have the opportunity to dress and accessorize your singer.  Each outfit and accessory can enhance the voltage multiplier if matched to the prism’s aura.  For example, the Quirky prism rewards your singer if they have on a silly outfit.  There are a ton of accessories to choose from as well and if you keep a similar theme throughout them all you can get up to a 60% voltage bonus.    

    Unlike Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX on the 3DS, there are not many mini-games in this title.  There is a relationship mini-game where you can give gifts to the singer to get them to like and trust you more.  Sometimes the gifts will be gratefully accepted, and sometimes they’ll be noticeably disappointed.  Each character has their own preferences and tastes.  Sometimes they’ll have a specific craving and if you’re able to satisfy it, you’ll get lots of reward points.  

    Hatsune Miku: Project Diva X
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 15/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 77%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 6.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    There’s a wide variety of gifts ranging from food to toys and interior design items.  Some of the gifts will have cut scenes associated with them but not all of them do.  Sometimes the cut scenes don’t match the initial reactions.  I gave Hatsune Miku a fishbowl which she didn’t appreciate, but according to the cut scene she enjoyed her new pet.  

    Though the character interactions are happy and family friendly, the songs can be a bit darker in nature if you have time to actually read the lyrics.  Since the songs are sung in Japanese you won’t easily pick up on the themes of love, depression, goddesses, magic, or blaspheming (Oh Jesus!).  You have the option of setting the subtitled lyrics to be in English or spelled out in Romanji to better understand what they’re singing in Japanese.

    The songs are mostly pop and actually got stuck in my head even though I don't know what they’re saying.  My favorite song in the game is Love Song.  The singing is pretty impressive for software, but while the characters are talking in-game you can tell that it’s synthesized.  

    Visually Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai looks great on the Vita.  The character and customization options are plentiful and look good.  Unfortunately, some of the outfits can be revealing including skimpy swimwear on both the male and female characters.

    In the end, Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai is a cute rhythm game that is fun to play if you enjoy JPOP and vocaloid music.  The main campaign is relatively short, but there’s plenty of replay value in collecting modules and gifts for the characters. If you see this title on sale, it’s worth adding to your rhythm game collection.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live
    Developed by: SEGA
    Published by: SEGA
    Release date: October 13, 2016
    Available on: PS4
    Genre: Simulation
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Teen for suggestive themes
    Price: $14.99 per stage

    Thank you SEGA for sending us a review code for the first stage!

    Hatsune Miku is a popular teenage vocaloid who is completely fictional and her voice is generated via vocaloid software.  I have had the pleasure of reviewing a few games that feature her music and despite not being able to comprehend it without subtitles, I’ve gotten to like some of her songs.  Hatsune Miku has many fans around the world and performs hologram concerts that do quite well.  Until there's one nearby, the virtual concert in Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live will have to suffice for me.

    Hatsune Miku: VR Future Live has a free demo but the main application is not functional without purchasing stages for it.  As of this review only the first stage is available and the other two will follow within the coming months.  Each stage costs $14.99.  Despite downloading and installing the first stage, the game would not recognize it until I restarted my PS4 and then it was able to launch successfully.

    Because you’ll be blinded with the headset on, you’ll be prompted to ensure that your environment is clear.  Since you’ll be waving around the controller the game also reminds you not to swing it around too much and will scold you if you do.  

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Immersive concert experience 
    Weak Points: Short game experience that can be completed in an hour; had to reboot the PS4 to have it recognize the stage
    Moral Warnings: The song "Love Trial" blasphemes ("Oh! Jesus!")

    While there is a brief rhythm game section, Hatsune Miku: VR Future is more of an experience than a game.  The virtual concert consists of three songs chosen by the player and a possible encore.  The virtual concert lasts about thirty minutes and all of the songs can be heard in about an hour.  The entire set list includes these songs: "Love Trial", "1/6 - out of the gravity", "Satisfaction", "Weekender Girl", "39", "Cute Medley", and (my favorite) "Love Song".  

    When the concert starts you’ll be surrounded by what appears to be thousands of shadowed people waving around green glow sticks.  There’s a glow stick attached to your virtual controller so you won’t feel left out.  The controller buttons can shift your views and you can be up front and center or up on the balcony if you desire.  There will be times when you’ll be prompted to select a song or move to the rhythm to change Hatsune Miku’s outfit or what you’re holding in your hands.

    Some of the objects I got to hold included maracas, a tambourine, a lightsaber, and a leek.  While I was fully aware that I probably looked and moved goofy outside of my PSVR headset, I felt equally awkward waving around a leek at the virtual concert.  Thankfully, when I got to have my one on one private encore with Hatsune Miku I was holding a lightsaber instead.    

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 3/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 87%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 5/10
    Sexual Content - 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    In order to score a private performance, you have in interact enough throughout the concert and chant her name after her third and final song.  If the encore event is triggered, you’ll get to choose what outfit you’d like her to wear from the ones you have unlocked.

    Many of Hatsune Miku’s outfits show off her legs; the rest of her body was adequately covered though.   The songs in the first stage have clean lyrics other than the expression “Oh! Jesus!” in "Love Trial".  The songs are sung in Japanese and the subtitles only appear when Hatsune Miku is talking between songs.  

    Despite the Teen rating this title is pretty tame and I recommend it for any Hatsune Miku fan who owns a PSVR headset.  It’s a great VR entry and makes you feel like you’re really at a concert.  Even though it’s a short game, there is plenty of replay-ability to unlock all of the available outfits and to watch the concert from different vantage points. 

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Holodance
    Develop by: narayana games UG
    Published by: narayana games UG
    Available on: HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Windows Mixed Reality
    Release date: TBD
    Genre: Dance
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $14.99

    Thank you narayana games UG for sending us this game to review!

    One of my first VR game purchases was Audio Shield. It’s a great VR experience that exercises your arms while generating patterns for you to block with your virtual shields. You can use your own music and if other people have the same songs/music tastes as you, you can compare leaderboard scores.

    Holodance is very similar to Audio Shield, however it’s got a story mode in the works and as of this preview, you can’t use your own music. However, there are almost twelve thousand community mixed songs to dance to so there is plenty of variety despite not many Christian artists/songs being available. The closest I got was a Christmas techno remix. There are a ton of top secular artists and genres to choose from including some songs from popular video games and anime.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: You get to dance with and high-five dragons; lots of community mapped songs in freeplay mode
    Weak Points: You have to play the story mode songs several times in a row to unlock the next level
    Moral Warnings: With nearly 12,000 community songs some are bound to have language or references to sex, drugs, alcohol

     

    The first episode of the story mode has twelve levels, but only the first four are available so far. There are several different backdrops and dragons to dance with. I like how the first dragon gives you a high five after completing the song. There is a tutorial available, though the game is pretty straightforward.

    Your hands in the game turn into drum-like objects and you have to deflect the sphere like objects that the dragons hurl at you. You’ll need to use both hands and sometimes your head to deflect all of the beats. Each level has four different tracks/instruments to master before unlocking the next one. In all honesty, I wasn’t a fan of replaying the same song four times in a row to progress the story. Though to be fair each instrument track (bass, snare drum, high hat, melody) is different and challenging. In order to unlock the next music track you have to achieve a minimum score which was not too difficult to do.

    Holodance
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The music in this game is mostly EDM (electronic dance music) and I enjoyed it. If you’re not a fan of dance music you will definitely not enjoy the repetitiveness of the story mode. There’s plenty of variety in freeplay mode though. The voice acting for the dragons so far is pretty good.
    Visually, this game is coming along nicely. The various level backdrops offer a lot of variety and I enjoyed the beauty of the underwater level the most so far. Other backdrops are available in freeplay mode and you have to earn points by playing the game to unlock them.

    With nearly twelve thousand songs to play in freeplay mode there are bound to be some included that have language or references to sex, drugs, and alcohol. The base game is pretty family friendly though.

    If you enjoy Audio Shield, DDR, or Just Dance games, Holodance is worth looking into. The $14.99 asking price is very reasonable. Despite the story mode not being finished, the freeplay mode has a ton of songs to play at various difficulty levels. The developers are actively updating this title and I look forward to checking out the finished product.

     

     

     

     

     

    Sponsored link - http://www.woodstockproduction.com/

     

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Just Dance 2017
    Developed by: Ubisoft
    Published by: Ubisoft
    Release date: October 25, 2016
    Available on: PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii, Wii U
    Genre: Rhythm
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for mild lyrics
    Number of players: Up to four
    Price: $39.99
    (Amazon Affiliate Link)

    Thank you Ubisoft for sending us this game to review!

    While I still prefer and miss Dance Dance Revolution, the Just Dance series is a great way to sing and dance to some great songs and burn some calories in the process.  Just Dance 2017 has arrived with a new game mode along with forty new tracks from many popular artists.  If you’re a member of Uplay Club you can unlock a couple of more songs by spending points earned in the game.  Two hundred more songs are available to you if you’re a member of Just Dance Unlimited which has monthly or yearly fees.

    There are two versions of the game: a standard and a gold version.  The gold version comes with a three-month subscription while standard grants you access to the unlimited content for two days before nagging you to upgrade.  The cost of keeping the membership is $4.99 a month, $9.99 for three months, or $29.99 annually.   If you want instant (depending on your internet speed) access to songs from the previous games without having to swap discs, it’s worth considering if you play the game regularly.  

    Besides access to more songs, the unlimited membership gives you more game content.  For example, there are more quests available for unlimited members in the Dance Quest mode.  In this mode, you have to complete and do well in a themed set list of three songs.  Once you complete one quest another will become available.  There are several difficulties to choose from and they range from beginner to super star.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun way to burn calories and the new game modes are fun
    Weak Points: Nagging to upgrade to unlimited
    Moral Warnings: Some of the songs have references to sex and alcohol, some sexualized outfits and gestures including twerking

    The gameplay remains the same where you have to mimic the moves of the dancer on the screen.  Some of the songs have multiple dancers to choose from so make sure you’re following the correct one!  Depending on how accurate you are, your movements will be rated as ok, good, perfect, or not counted at all.  To track your movements, you can either use a smart phone with the free app installed, or a Wii remote.  I used a Wii remote and it generally worked well though there were times when I didn't get credit for moves that I'm convinced I did properly.

    You can play this game solo, against friends, or against people around the world.  If you want to play against your friends then the Just Dance mode is where you want go.  In this mode you can play co-operatively or competitively against four players.   Throughout the song you’ll earn stars for dancing and (optionally) singing well.  Whoever has the most stars or points at the end wins.  Even if you don’t do well, you’ll still unlock an avatar.  There are over two hundred avatars to unlock and use as your own to stand out from players across the world.

    The World Dance Floor mode has you jumping into a song with several other players to see who can score the best at the end.  Unfortunately, it’s possible to enter a song after it’s started and that puts you at a significant disadvantage to the others who were there from the start.  After a song is finished all of the players are awarded points but the top three dancers will get the most.  Sometimes a random player is selected and whoever can beat their score will earn a lot of game points.  Occasionally bosses will appear and all of the players will have to work together to defend the dance floor.

    Another way to interact with players around the world is through the video challenge mode.  In this mode you can either submit your own video challenge or try to score higher than someone else’s.  Submitting your video from someone else’s challenge is encouraged, but not required.  

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 84%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 3.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    If you’re interested in burning calories, then you’ll want to check out the Sweat and Playlist mode.  There are three included playlists.  The short playlist has three songs and takes less than ten minutes to complete and will help you burn approximately 65.9 Kcal.  The medium playlist is six songs and takes a little over twenty minutes to finish and will make you 136.4Kcal lighter.  The long playlist consists of ten songs and takes thirty-three minutes to complete and burns nearly two-hundred and twenty-five Kcal.  If you have a lot of energy or calories to burn you can do the nonstop shuffle mode.

    New to Just Dance 2017 is the Just Dance Machine mode where you get to assist aliens stranded in space.  In order to recharge their spaceship’s battery, you need to mimic various moves as accurately as possible.  There are thirty-two routines that will gradually unlock as you play through this mini-game.  Some of the routines include playing air guitar, conducting an orchestra, doing marital arts, or twerking.

    Sadly, some of the dance moves and outfits are sexualized in this title.  A few of the songs have sexual and alcohol references in them as well.  If you have Just Dance Unlimited activated, you have access to most songs from previous games that we’ve called out for various reasons.  

    One song that I didn’t see on Just Dance Unlimited was “What Does the Fox Say”.  Other favorites from my kids were on there like “Let It Go” and the “Ghostbusters” song.  The track list for Just Dance 2017 is decent and features songs from artists like Britney Spears, Justin Bieber, Beyonce, Psy, Maroon 5, Queen, and many more.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a song from Hatsune Miku as well.

    Overall, Just Dance 2017 is a solid entry to the series and offers plenty of new content to justify its purchase.  While the unlimited mode provides more content and features, I wish the game wouldn’t nag you about not using it.  Like all previous games in the series, there are some questionable lyrics and dance moves.  If you don’t mind some skin shown and twerking there’s plenty of fun to be had and calories to be burned by playing this game.  

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Lost in Harmony
    Developed by: Digixart
    Published by: Plug In Digital
    Release date: June 21, 2018
    Available on: Android, iOS, Switch, Windows
    Genre: Rhythm
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for fantasy violence
    Price: $6.99

    Thank you Plug In Digital for sending us this game to review!

    Lost in Harmony was originally released on mobile platforms in 2016 and is free to play on Google Play with in app purchases. Steam and Nintendo eShop sell the game in its entirety for $6.99. There are two different stories with approximately twelve levels in each one.

    Kaito’s Adventure has thirteen dreams/levels with a story about his girlfriend Aya in between them. Aya is in pain and is sick and getting treatment for her illness. It’s not specified, but it sounds like she’s going through cancer. The other story, M.I.R.A.I's Escape is about a robot that is supposed to be decommissioned, but he escapes instead.

    The gameplay is similar for both stories though M.I.R.A.I's Escape is more challenging. Both modes have a normal and hard level of difficulty. Each level has multiple orbs that can be acquired and these orbs are used for unlocking future levels. There are a total of seventy-two orbs to be collected in the game.

    Lost in Harmony
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Neat graphics; good music; fun gameplay
    Weak Points: Free (with in app purchases) on other platforms
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence; references to death and dying; short shorts

    Along with collecting orbs, there are trails of stardust that rack up serious points for collecting it all. There are also rhythm moments where you have to press the X, Y, A, B buttons in time with their icons lining up with their goal on the right-hand of the screen. Depending on your timing you’ll be ranked as perfect, great, good, or miss. Combos are encouraged and boost your score if achieved. In order to complete a level you’ll need to meet a certain threshold. Levels can always be replayed to improve upon previous scores and to collect orbs missed in previous attempts.

    Most of the gameplay revolves around dodging objects that are coming up ahead and behind you. For the unseen dangers there are arrows that will warn and tell you which direction to move to avoid a collision. Sometimes the threats are so big that your only course of action is to jump and avoid them.

    There’s a wide variety of obstacles including cars, boats, sheep, birds, buffalo, asteroids, lightning, and plenty of others. An occasional boss-like creature will chase M.I.R.A.I and he’ll have to avoid his lunges. Most threats stay in their lanes, but some swerve and you’ll have to dodge them accordingly.

    Lost in Harmony
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 88%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 92%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 8/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The art style is neat and I like it. My only nitpick with the visuals is that they are noticeably flat. This game ran really well on the Switch which isn’t too surprising given its mobile origins. As you progress in the game you will unlock customization options that let you personalize the characters a bit. You can change Kaito’s outfit and skateboard and M.I.R.A.I's facial color and patterns are changeable too.

    I really enjoyed the music in this game and I bought the soundtrack which is available on Spotify and Amazon. Most of the music is dance style but there are some classical songs and plenty of others that I recognized as well. One of the levels has a Tetris theme and its theme song is playing in the background. Most of the songs are instrumental, but a couple of them have singing in them.

    Morally, there’s not much to complain about. Aya’s shorts are shorter than I would allow my daughters to leave the house in. If you fail to move out of the way, your character will get smacked, but they don’t fall down or get seriously injured. There are references to death and dying though.

    In the end, Lost in Harmony is a short but fun game. If you’re good at it, you can beat all of the levels in a couple of sittings. Fans of rhythm games should check this one out. If you have access to a mobile version you can try it before you buy it on an ad free platform.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Melody’s Escape
    Developed by: Icetesy SPRL
    Published by: Icetesy SPRL
    Released: May 20, 2016
    Available on: Windows (reviewed), macOS, Linux/SteamOS
    Genre: Rhythm
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: N/A
    Price: $9.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Rhythm games have been a popular alternative for many gamers, with some notable examples being Dance Dance Revolution, Audiosurf, and osu! What lends to their attractiveness is their ability to skillfully blend music and gameplay to create an immersive and challenging experience.

    Melody’s Escape first made its way to Steam Early Access in the beginning of 2014, and has since been given a full release as of May 2016. The gameplay consists of tapping or holding buttons to match visual cues in sync with the rhythm of the music. These include collecting floating orbs and navigating the various obstacles interspersed throughout the map. The concept sounds simple enough, but it’s the execution that makes the game both challenging and highly addictive.

    You play as Melody, who, as the title suggests, uses music as an outlet to escape the world around her. I found myself following suit—depending on your desired difficulty and song selection, Melody’s Escape can be both relaxing and cathartic after a long day.

    To play the game, simply select a difficulty and a song from your music library. The first time you play a song on a new difficulty, a timeline will be generated outlining the varying intensities of the song.

    There are four base difficulty settings: relaxing, medium, intense, and overload. In the relaxing mode, you only need to worry about one button at a time, which changes along with the intensity. The medium difficulty has you regularly alternating between four inputs, whether that be the arrow keys, WASD keys, or buttons on your controller. The intense mode is where the real challenge begins, and is my personal favorite, requiring you to use both hands for a total of eight different keys. Finally, there is overload, which greatly increases the number visual cues, and requires in tune precision. Depending on your song selection, it can be near impossible to follow everything on screen.

    Melody’s Escape
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Addictive and immersive gameplay; varying levels of difficulty and intensity; upbeat bundled music; pleasing visuals
    Weak Points: Certain songs don’t sync with beats properly; occasional frame rate drops during the more intense parts of songs; some players may experience eye strain or motion sickness
    Moral Warnings: Some mild lyrics in included songs (da*n); some of Melody’s outfits are a bit revealing

    Furthermore, a custom mode exists which allows you to generate your own personalized difficulty from a variety of presets. And if you’d simply like to sit back and watch Melody navigate the course, you have the option of letting the computer play for you.

    There are four intensity modes that switch throughout the song as it progresses. During the slowest portions of a song, which usually occur near the beginning and end, Melody is observed casually walking. As the pace picks up, Melody will begin jogging or even running, and new obstacles are introduced apart from the glowing orbs. Finally, during the most intense parts of a song, she begins to fly. Depending on your hardware, you may experience frame rate drops during these sections as I did. From experience, even small frame dips are noticeable and will have a negative impact on the timing of your input. Not all songs reach each of the four intensities, so be sure to check the timeline before you start to have a general idea of what to expect. Lowering the graphical setting may also help to combat frame rate drops if you experience them.

    At the end of every song, you are given a numerical score and heart count (out of five) based on your efforts. The score is calculated on the length of your combos and your accuracy at matching the visual cues. Getting all the cues correct will reward you with five gold hearts and is extremely satisfying when done. A handful of Steam achievements also exist to help showcase your expert playing ability.

    The game comes bundled with six songs from electronic music producer Shirobon. All the songs are upbeat and highlight the game’s core mechanics nicely. 

    Visually, Melody’s Escape is a pretty sight to behold. The backdrops add to the overall immersion, transitioning from a rainy city during the walking sequences to brilliant displays of color resembling the northern lights as the pace quickens. The visual cues have distinct colors that help the player match the correct corresponding key, while also changing the color of Melody’s hair.

    Melody’s Escape
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 86%
    Gameplay - 17/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 96%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 9/10
    Sexual Content - 9/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

     

    Melody’s Escape comes packaged with a handful of different hairstyles, outfits, and color schemes for your enjoyment. Additionally, Steam Workshop integration introduces hundreds more. If you decide the pick up the game, I highly recommend you check some of them out, as there are a lot of great submissions, including skins for characters you may recognize from other games and cartoons.

    While most of the songs I played synced well, there were some tracks that “felt off.” Other users have voiced similar concerns, especially when playing hard rock or metal songs. The developer did mention that they built the game with their music taste in mind – electronic. While it doesn’t ruin the gameplay, it can be irritating when the cues are noticeably off beat. 

    One additional point of attention is that certain players experience eye strain or motion sickness while playing the game. I was not one of those affected, but if you do experience either of these symptoms, be sure to check the Steam discussions for tips to help alleviate their effects. 

    Morally, there isn’t much to be concerned about. From the included songs, City Patrol (Stage B) uses da*n a few times and Running My Head has a few suggestive lines. Since you will mostly be playing songs from your own music collection, you have control of the content you consume. Some may consider a few of Melody’s outfits to be a bit revealing, but you don’t see much detail, and you can always choose to simply ignore any you don’t like. I can’t speak on behalf of all those found in the Workshop, as they were created by other players.

    I've played several rhythm-based games, but none of them have been quite as enjoyable as Melody's Escape. It's not perfect, mind you, but it does possess something special that sets it apart. I feel a sense of connection, like I’m truly playing my music, as opposed to just engaging in a tacked on minigame. If you are a fan of the genre and want to “take your music to the next level,” Melody’s Escape is definitely worth considering.

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Ode
    Developed by:Reflections
    Published by: Ubisoft
    Release date: November 27, 2017
    Available on: Windows
    Genre: Musical exploration
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Everyone
    Price: $4.99

    Thank you Ubisoft for sending us this game to review!

    Ode is a relaxing musical exploration game that can be enjoyed by people of all ages who appreciate music. In all honesty, the beautiful visuals attracted me to this game over the musical aspects, but I enjoyed both in this game. There are no time limits or hard goals in this title, but you do have to complete one level before moving onto the next one. In total, there are four worlds to explore.

    Your main character is a cute little fellow who travels around in a sphere Monkey Ball style. Throughout the levels are orange orbs that need to be collected. While you don’t have to collect them all, you do need to have enough to traverse some areas and completing levels requires you to give away some orbs away to various green life forms.

    Ode
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun and relaxing game with beautiful visuals and four whimsical levels to explore
    Weak Points: The camera controls can get in the way at times; got stuck once
    Moral Warnings:None

    The orange orbs allow your character to roll around even faster, turn into climbing pillars, or weave around in the air like a snake. With more orbs, you can stretch out further while you’re a pillar. Thankfully, the orbs are plentiful and not too difficult to find.

    Each of the levels have a few giant green creatures that have to change color in order to complete the level. In order to change their color, you have to give the smaller green blobs one of your orbs. Some of the smaller green blobs are easy to reach and others not so much. You’ll have to change your form or utilize your orb flinging ability to reach some of the distant green blobs. Once all of the green blobs, big and small, have been changed to gold, your character can advance to the next level.

    Ode
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 88%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 100%
    Violence - 10/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    While some thought is required in figuring out how to reach all of the little green blobs, most of the fun in Ode is the exploring. The worlds are colorful, whimsical, and full of music. As you roll over mushrooms and other jelly like objects, you’ll hear various instruments and musical notes playing. The music is pleasant to listen to and it changes often. There are no time limits or penalties so carry on and make some noise!

    Unfortunately, I did get stuck once and had to restart the level to get moving again. Sometimes the camera angles were annoying, but I was too mesmerized by the pretty visuals to get bent out of shape over it.

    Since there are only four levels it won’t take you long to complete the game. You can always go back and replay your favorite level/world. The price is a reasonable $4.99 and I have seen it on sale for $2.49 around the holidays. Ode is fun for people of all ages and the price of admission is fair for the relaxing and fun environments that await you in this 3D adventure game.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Old School Musical
    Developed by: La Moutarde
    Published by: Plug In Digital, Playdius Entertainment
    Release date: September 13, 2018
    Available on: Switch, Windows
    Genre: Rhythm
    Number of players: Up to four players
    ESRB Rating: E10+ for fantasy violence, mild blood
    Price: $12.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you La Moutarde for sending us this game to review!

    I’m a sucker for rhythm games and when you add good writing and plenty of video game nostalgia, I’m sold! Old School Musical tells the tale of Tib and Rob who are stranded on a remote island with their abusive mother. Tib is older, shorter, and significantly smarter than Rob. Despite Rob’s antics, they make a pretty good team and promised each other that they would escape off of the island together one way or another.

    Due to a glitch infesting the island, they eventually escape and discover that it’s up to them to save the universe. The story mode has twenty areas to discover and several songs/levels to complete in each one. There are over fifty catchy chiptune tracks and you can buy the soundtrack on Steam if you like it. If you’re cheap you can just replay your favorite levels/tracks in the arcade mode. Multiplayer plays just like the arcade mode except that all of the players share the same health bar. If you decide to play with friends, make sure that they know what they’re doing or you won’t be able to survive through the song. Each song/level can be played in easy, normal, or hard mode. I beat the game on normal and couldn’t survive on easy playing alongside my rhythmically-challenged son.

    Old School Musical
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Funny writing; catchy music; fun gameplay; lots of nostalgia
    Weak Points: A shared health bar for all players in multiplayer
    Moral Warnings: Violence and blood shown; alcohol references; Rob makes a comment about offering a sacrifice to a demon; cross-dressing

    The controls are fairly intuitive as you have to press the appropriate arrow button when the same color/directional arrow aligns with the circle icon in the middle of the screen. Oftentimes, rectangles will appear on the screen and you have to press the corresponding shoulder button when the floating rectangles line up. If you’re familiar with Dance Dance Revolution games, you’ll feel right at home here.

    Once the story mode is completed, a new area called the Chicken Republic becomes available and adds fifty levels with various handicaps to make things interesting. For example, there’s a drunken setting that makes the background wavy as you’re playing. This can be rather disorienting. Sometimes the floating arrows will have lens flare and will become harder to distinguish between single press and arrows that need to be held down for a few seconds. Another mode switches the color palette to one similar to the original Game Boy’s. This makes things trickier for those who press the buttons by color instead of by the directional arrow.

    Old School Musical
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 84%
    Gameplay - 16/20
    Graphics - 7/10
    Sound - 9/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 78%
    Violence - 6/10
    Language - 9/10
    Sexual Content - 7/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7/10

    The Game Boy’s color palette isn’t the only nostalgia you’ll find in this title. Many of the levels are inspired by gaming classics like Cruis’n, Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy, Mega Man, Metal Gear, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tetris, Zelda, and more. I immediately recognized the Tetris theme song, but the other levels had fitting music even if it wasn’t original.

    The writing is top-notch and the humor is great in this game. While there is cussing it’s pre-censored with symbols instead of the actual words being shown. Some blood is shown in a drawing depicting the mother whipping Tib and Rob with a barbed whip. Additionally, Rob makes an offhand comment about offering a sacrifice to a demon. Tib reprimands him for that one. Last but not least, there is some unavoidable cross-dressing in one of the levels. Of course, the dialogue is pretty funny for that scene.

    Despite not being impressed with the multiplayer game mode, I enjoyed the rest of my trip down memory lane in Old School Musical. The asking price is a reasonable $12.99 and I highly recommend it for those who enjoy rhythm games. There are some moral issues to consider, but overall this game is pretty tame. I’ll consider picking up the soundtrack when it goes on a Steam sale.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight & Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight
    Developed by: P-Studio
    Published by: Atlus
    Release Date: December 4, 2018
    Available on: PS4, Vita
    Genre: Rhythm
    Number of Players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Teen for Language, Blood, Suggestive themes
    Price: $59.99 each ($99.99 for the Endless Night Collection, which includes both, as well as Persona 4: Dancing All Night)

    Thank you Atlus for sending us the Dancing Collection to review!

    In 2017, I reviewed Persona 5, and despite some reservations (particularly around appropriateness), I came to really love the cast, and was sad to see the game end. My wife also reviewed Persona 4: Dancing All Night, so I thought this might be a good opportunity to check out what seemed to be a pretty strange series, but one clearly popular enough for them to do this again. (I played both Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight and Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight, but they are remarkably similar, other than different characters, song lists, and aesthetics. The mechanics are identical, so this review will be mainly focusing on Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, as I played much more of that one, since I haven’t played Persona 3 at all, and am far less familiar with the characters.)

    When you start the game, you quickly find yourself surrounded by your friends (the Phantom Thieves, in the case of P5D) and you see Justine and Caroline in front of you. It is here that you learn that the twins are competing with their older sister (in this case Elizabeth from Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight) to see which team ends up having the better dancers. This is mostly to settle some personal wager between the sisters. It is with this meager justification that they convince your team to dance the night away. It also helps that this is a dream, so you will forget everything when you wake up, and there is no time limit, so you have nothing to lose (or gain).

    As you can see, the story is really, really flimsy. From what I saw, Persona 4: Dancing All Night had an actual story mode that brought some character growth and depth to the P4 characters; that’s not really the case here. The Persona 5 (and 3) cast is charming, so having more chances to interact with them, and having conversations with them, is still interesting. You do get to learn more about each character if you grind through all of the requirements to unlock each social interaction.

    Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight & Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight
    Highlights:

    Strong Points: More time with your favorite Persona characters; fun rhythm game; looks and sounds great; nice homage to the excellent Persona themes from the main games
    Weak Points: No story mode this time; really not all that much content (unless you get the bundle); best only for fans of the games, or hardcore rhythm game lovers, as there isn’t much to keep you going otherwise; PS VR mode is mostly worthless
    Moral Warnings: Some backgrounds have blood in them; several skin-tight outfits, including with cleavage; curse words used, including ‘d*mn’, ‘p*ss*d’, ‘sh*t’, ‘*ss’, and ‘h*ll’; some suggestive dialogue

    The way it works is that there are twenty-five songs to play, which you unlock as you dance and complete more songs. In the process of dancing, you can also unlock outfits, accessories, or even things like eye colors as you play. As you unlock more, or have more success in the actual dancing, this leads to various character conversations being unlocked as well. These conversations play out in a simple visual-novel style, and are certainly one of the highlights of the game if you are looking to get more insight into your favorite characters.

    Dancing itself is based around a simple (but challenging) rhythm game where you press one of six buttons that map to the outside buttons on the controller, in this case X, O, triangle, down, left, and up. You can also use the analog sticks (or L/R, if you enable the option) to scratch, which is used when rings pass through the activation area to improve your combo or increase that hype meter. In order to complete a stage, you have to avoid mistakes as much as you can, while keeping that meter high. If you let it drop too much, you may fail, and have to try it again. Sadly, I had no idea I failed on several attempts, but had to start over from scratch. I would prefer it if the game failed you out, so you could spend the time starting over instead.

    It’s a good thing the rhythm game itself is actually quite fun, because if you want to see everything, you will probably be doing it a lot. Rather than a more typical ‘make sure to complete every song at the normal difficulty once to see the story through’ like most games, this one expects you to keep grinding, and completing each song on multiple difficulties (of which there are at least four) in order to unlock more and more. Some of the characters’ story arcs are particularly difficult to unlock, as they require things like a certain number of ‘Brilliant’ song completions, which can take quite a bit of practice to get. All rhythm games are grindy to some extent, but this one surprised me on how much it requires to see most of the story. So on the one hand, you will have likely played all of the songs in a few hours, but if you want to see all of the conversation arcs, that will take much, much longer.

    Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight & Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 12/20
    Graphics - 9/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 59%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 4/10
    Sexual Content - 3/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    That is probably my biggest complaint with these games. The content is all good, as the songs are good, but it’s really barebones. You’re given a really weak reason to dance, do some dancing, and do some more dancing. Sometimes you can dress up the characters, or talk to them a bit more, but overall I felt a giant ‘That’s it?’ after having played for a while. It’s not that it’s bad, it’s just... not a lot to it. The PS VR mode is even more pathetic. You can watch the characters stand there and pose wearing whatever costume or accessories that you have unlocked... and that’s it. Don’t bother.

    From an appropriateness standpoint, there is some blood, though not common. Some of the background scenes have it, and apparently an outfit as well. (I haven’t unlocked that one, or didn’t notice it.) Most common curse words are heard spoken by the characters, outside of the ‘F’ word. I noted ‘d*mn’, ‘p*ss*d’, ‘sh*t’, ‘*ss’, and ‘h*ll’. Several of the outfits are quite revealing, including lots of skin and cleavage. Another shirt said ‘ZOMG’ on it. Some of the dialogue is suggestive, including calling another dancer sexy, and mentions of dirty mags under the bed.

    The Persona Dancing series, and in particular, the Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight and Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight, are niche games for a niche audience. If you are a hardcore Persona fan, I’m sure you will get some enjoyment out of these games. If you really like rhythm games, these are well done. I’m just not sure that the package justifies the cost. The Endless Night Collection, which includes Persona Dancing 3, 4, and 5, is a fair bit better value than buying them individually, and may be worth considering. These games are fun, but just a bit pricey, and the collection helps with that somewhat. If you are already a fan of Persona and rhythm games, then I can see it being worth it (or just wait for a good sale). Of course, as always, consider the moral content (including the source material!) of these games.

  •  

    boxart
    Game Info:

    Terrorhythm
    Developed by: EvilCoGames
    Published by: EvilCoGames
    Release date: April 6, 2018
    Available on: macOS, Windows
    Genre: Rhythm, Fighter
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: Not rated
    Price: $19.99

    Thank you EvilCoGames for sending us this game to review!

    Terrorhythm takes place in a society that prohibits sound. As you blast your music in rebellion various security drones will attack you to restore the silence. Fighting them is easy enough with the press of a button, but can you do it to the beat of the background music?

    As of this preview there are eight levels that can be unlocked in the campaign or played in any order in the custom mode. The included songs are great, but if you really want to use your own music it’s possible in the custom mode. The attacks must be timed with the beats per minute of the music track, and the faster the beats per minute (BPM), the harder it gets. The campaign songs start at 130 BPM and go up from there. If you’re really good you can double the speed of the songs for a real challenge.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Great music and you can fight to your own songs as well; fun and challenging gameplay; online leaderboards
    Weak Points: Pricey; not that many levels or game modes yet; Steam achievements are not tracking my weapon kills properly
    Moral Warnings: Violence; your character wears a demon mask

    For controls you can use a keyboard, gamepad, or even DDR pads if you have any laying around.  The up arrow will boost your attack which some enemies require while others are immune to it.  The down arrow will increase your attack radius.  The left and right arrows are used for attacking enemies in that direction.  

    There are four difficulty levels: relaxed, normal, hard, and terror. The relaxed mode lets you play through songs without taking any damage. If you want to compete on the leaderboards and increase your rank, you’ll need to play at a harder difficulty though. In the hard and terror difficulty levels the enemies are harder to hit and require more precision. In terror mode, you don’t start off with much health/signal and there are no opportunities to replenish it.

    I preferred playing on the normal difficulty level and appreciated the health and weapon drops from enemies. There’s a fair amount of weapon variety including discs, scythes, and katanas. There are fifty-seven Steam achievements and some of them are based off of weapon kills. Despite killing numerous foes with weapons, I haven’t been getting credit for it. The other Steam achievements seem to be working fine though.

    Terrorhythm
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 82%
    Gameplay - 14/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 4/5
    Controls - 5/5

    Morality Score - 86%
    Violence - 7.5/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 10/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

    The online leaderboards are a nice touch and I won’t be threatening too many people with my mediocre performance. I like how you get placed on the leaderboards even if you don’t finish the song before dying.

    I really enjoy the soundtrack for this game and hope that it becomes available for purchase soon. There’s a DLC placeholder for it on the Steam store page, but it’s not available yet. The price is not yet revealed either.

    The 2D art style is colorful and unique. I’m not a huge fan of the demon mask the main character is wearing, but there’s no option to customize or change it.

    So far, this game is fun, but there’s some room for improvement when it comes to optimization and variety. I look forward to watching the progress of this title and can’t wait for the finished product. If you enjoy rhythm and fighting games you should add Terrorhythm to your wish list and pick it up when it goes on sale.

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    The Metronomicon
    Developed by: Puuba
    Published by: Kasedo Games
    Release date: September 29, 2016
    Available on: Windows, Mac, Linux
    Genre: Rhythm
    Number of players: Single-player
    ESRB Rating: not rated
    Price: $19.99
    (Humble Store Link)

    Thank you Kasedo games for sending us a review code!

    Wade the warrior, Gwen the protector, Clark the medic, and Violet the exploder (fire mage) have just graduated from the Neon Shield School.  The timing is perfect since they need to purge the corruption in the land and protect the peaceful towns from the monsters that are attacking them.  What sets The Metronomicon apart from other RPGs is that this one is rhythm based.  It’s time to put their degrees in Rhythmic Combat Arts to good use!

    The 2D battles show each of the characters with their own music track and arrows flying down.  You can toggle the active hero using the shoulder buttons on your game pad.  To complete an attack, heal/cure, or spell, several arrows have to be properly pressed in a row.  You can either use the D-pad or the buttons on the game pad.  I preferred using the buttons since they were easier for me to do combos with.  If you have a USB DDR pad handy, this game is playable with it.

    Each character has different levels or attacks/abilities.  After the first level is completed the second level will commence with a different background color.  Sadly, the attacks/abilities are not stackable.  I learned this the hard way when my party was not getting healed since I was completing the level two cure ability with my healer instead of stopping at the level one heal.  

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Fun Rhythm/RPG mashup game with great music 
    Weak Points: Partial controller support
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence and magic use; some pentagrams are seen; midriff shown on female characters

    As the party completes songs they will earn experience and some equipment drops.  There are story missions and side quests and they all earn “Street creds” which can be spent to upgrade their school to further unlock more perks and equipment.  Besides the story mode, arena challenges and free play songs are available to try at your leisure.

    There are several areas in the story mode, but only one of them is unlocked in the beginning.  In order to advance to the new areas, you’ll have to defeat the previous one’s boss.  The level bosses are much more challenging than the mini-bosses that appear in the normal song challenges.  

    The side quest's songs and the arena battles have a specific requirement that has to be met in order to complete the challenge.  For example, you may be required to reach a certain combo or defeat a certain number of enemies before the song ends.  

    The Metronomicon
    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 90%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls - 4/5

    Morality Score - 81%
    Violence - 7/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 5/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The songs are mostly electronic dance music, however there are a few rock ones in there.  The music is really good and the soundtrack is available for purchase either in a deluxe game bundle for $27.98 or separately for $7.99.  You can unlock a DJ room in the game where you can listen to songs purchased with crystals you have earned in battle.  DLC is also available for this game as well.  As of this review there's a Chiptune DLC pack for a reasonable price of $1.99.

    Although this game is single-player only there is plenty to do with completing the songs on all three difficulty levels and trying to get your score higher and higher on the global leaderboards.  If you’re into earning Steam achievements, there are thirty to collect.  Other Steam enhancements include Steam cloud saves.  According to the Steam store page, there is limited controller support.  While I had no problems playing it with my Xbox One controller, my SteelSeries Stratus XL controller needed to have the buttons mapped in the options menu.

    Visually, this game is pretty colorful and the 2D art style is nice.  The enemies and bosses are well animated and very detailed, but I didn’t get to appreciate them too much since I was focusing on the required dance moves.  I did however, notice some pentagrams near the mini-bosses.

    If you like RPG and Rhythm games, The Metronomicon is worth looking into if the pentagrams don’t both you.  If it wasn’t for those I’d wholeheartedly recommend this game to fellow believers.

     

  • boxart
    Game Info:

    Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
    Developed by: Indies Zero
    Published by: Square Enix
    Release Date: July 3, 2012
    Available on: 3DS
    Mode: Single/Multiplayer
    ESRB Rating: E 10+ for ages 10 and older: Fantasy Violence, Mild Blood, Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Tobacco
    Price: $15.00 on LeapTrade

    Final Fantasy has been around for twenty five years and is known for its great stories, characters and music.  Theatrhythm incorporates the characters and music really well, but the story is a bit on the weak side.  The gods Chaos and Cosmos are separated by rhythm and the crystal between them has been corrupted by Chaos.  It’s your job to restore it by producing rhythmia.

    Like the title suggests, this is a rhythm game and your timing will make or break your score.  Each mode has a different game style but the main objective is to tap, slash, or hold in time with the notes as they slide across the screen.  You will get awarded with bad, good, or critical depending on your timing.  The final scores range from SS to F if you fail.  The rhythmia awarded varies on your party, chain, rank, and tactics.  You’ll also get a bonus if you have a character from the game song in your party.

    You must build up your party and explore the music from various Final Fantasy titles.  Each game has its own Opening Theme, Field Music, Battle Music, Event Music, and Ending Credits.  Once you pass all of the songs for a particular game they become unlocked in the Challenge Mode area where you can play the songs individually instead of the whole set.   There are three different difficulty levels Basic, Expert, and Ultimate.  In order to unlock the next difficulty level you must ace it on the current level.  I didn’t find basic or expert challenging, but ultimate humbled me.

    Highlights:

    Strong Points: Excellent music, fun and challenging gameplay
    Weak Points: Many spoilers if you have not played the entire series
    Moral Warnings: Cartoon violence, tight clothing

    There’s a Chaos Shrine area where you can earn dark notes by completing 2-3 random songs on expert difficulty.  In order to earn more dark notes you have to either complete them yourself, with a friend or collect new ones via spot pass.  I was not able to test out the multiplayer as of this review.  I did however, earn a dark note through spotpass.  There are ninety-nine dark notes all together.  Not only are they good for a challenge, but you can earn a lot of rhythmia and equipment by playing them.  Since the songs are random, you might see enemies from games you have not played yet.  In the series mode I only played songs from the FF games I’ve completed.    If you don’t want to see movie sequences from games you have not played yet, you may want to do the same.

    Needless to say the movies have excellent CGI and look great in 3D. The older Final Fantasy movies often show the text in Japanese which can be good for not spoiling anything (Unless you know Japanese).  On the other hand, boss battles are shown in their full glory.  The movies are in the background as you play, but you can unlock them to be playable in the movie gallery.  The Final fantasy characters in your party and the bosses and enemies you’ll encounter are drawn in Chibi (little person) style.  The Final Fantasy DS remakes often had an anime look to them but this art style is completely different from that.  I thought it was cute but it didn’t make my party or enemies look very intimidating.

    Score Breakdown:
    Higher is better
    (10/10 is perfect)

    Game Score - 90%
    Gameplay - 18/20
    Graphics - 8/10
    Sound - 10/10
    Stability - 5/5
    Controls/Interface - 4/5

    Morality Score - 87%
    Violence - 8/10
    Language - 10/10
    Sexual Content - 8.5/10
    Occult/Supernatural - 7/10
    Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

    The music quality and song selection are fantastic.  I’m sure any Final Fantasy fan will enjoy this game.  The original game songs sound 8-bit since that’s the era they originated from.  While I’m not familiar with the newer Final Fantasy games, the songs vary from rock battle music to soothing field music with female vocals.  Many more songs can be unlocked by collecting rhythmia or by purchasing add on songs through the store for .99 apiece.  It’s a shame that the purchases are console specific as my husband can’t enjoy the songs I bought on his system.   

    Morally I don't have many complaints with this game.  You can add a custom tagline on your street pass card so some people may ruin the fun for everyone there.  Some of the female characters and bosses have skimpy clothing. One feature that I wish would have been added is a countdown to resume your game mid-song.  There have been times where I needed to close my system half way through a song and resuming on the fly is hard to do. 

    Overall my experience with this game has been a pleasant one.  Even though I’ve played roughly a third of the Final Fantasy games out there, I was thoroughly able to enjoy the game and appreciate the music it offered.  There’s a ton of songs, movies and characters to unlock and enjoy.  There are trophies and collectable character and enemy cards too.  The game comes with a long customizable stylus but I still used my built in one.  If you like rhythm or Final Fantasy games, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is an excellent addition to your 3DS game library.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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