This game is CRAAAAAAAZY! Very few games have given me the euphoric experience of being both a master beat mixer, and completely high off my ass on shrooms. Glu Mobile manages to capture both of these (only slightly related) feelings with Beat it!, their first step into the genre of musical games on the App Store. A wonderfully charming, isometric pixel-filled step, in shoes made out of banana peels, gorilla fur, and caramel cats.
That’s right folks, Beat it! features a heaping helping of random artsy, pixely, goodness. It’s insane, and you’ll love every minute of it. That’s because Glu has managed to release the most unique musical rhythm game since Tap Tap. Games like Tap
Tap have you tapping notes to the beat of a song. Beat it! has you actually creating songs using a stylish looping grid. If you want to know how Beat it! works, go check out inudge.net (thanks Chris Z!). Be warned… it’s quite addicting and awesome.
Beat it! has a freeplay mode that is very similar to iNudge. You can only create a loop that’s up to 8 measures, which is a long feat to accomplish considering there’s no copy/paste. You will unlock new instruments and locales as you progress through the story mode, and you can save your loop to listen to later. Unfortunately, there’s no way to export your music out of the game, which was a pretty big disappointment. It would have been cool to make a loop to use as a ringtone, or maybe share your beats with friends. Without the ability to export, this freeplay mode kinda falls flat.
So how is Beat it! a game? The concept is very simple: listen to a beat, then reproduce it on the looping grid. You will have a track for each instrument involved, and will need to tap squares in the grid to activate that instrument as the playhead passes over it. When you match up a square properly, it will sparkle and shimmer. There are power ups that will activate for a certain instrument tracks. If you can complete all the correct squares for that instrument in time, it will do things like lock squares that aren’t used, or reveal squares that contain instruments. To be honest, the power ups didn’t help a ton, but it’s a nice touch. If you forget the original beat, you can play it back at any time, and then immediately go back to editing to match it.
The best part of this game comes from the insanity that is constantly going on in the background. For instance, the second world consists of a beautiful landscape and some bunnies. As you progress through beat levels, more and more bunnies appear, and eventually some guy riding a giant hamburger starts shooting ketchup at everything. Oh and there’s a merbunny swimming in the water. Yeah… it’s awesome.
The problem with all the background action is just that- it’s in the background. Beat it! suffers from the Guitar Hero effect (GH was the original… screw Rock Band), where cool animations and movements are going on behind the actual game board, so it’s hard to really enjoy them. There were points where some awesome stuff was happening, but I was only able to see it for a few seconds before the level started. I really wish this game had an extra option that let you sit back enjoy the artwork after you unlock it. Hell, you could even make a search and find bonus game out of it!
Another aspect of Beat it! that gets frustrating are the levels that have you editing in more than one measure at a time. You have to swipe left or right on the top of the grid to go from one to the other, rather than being able to zoom out to see both at
once. To make matters worse, about half the time you swipe left or right, you end up accidentally filling in boxes on the grid, and ultimately messing up the beat you worked so hard to perfect. The game is still fully playable, but this made some levels a lot more frustrating that they should be.
This is one of those games that you absolutely have to play with using headphones. The beats are all super clean and catchy,
and they sound crappy on the iPhone’s speakers. Some of them get a bit old after listening to them over and over again, but it’s not terrible. Each world features a different instrument set, so things stay fresh. Unfortunately, the game only has 5 worlds, so it’s a very brief, albeit enjoyable, experience.
Beat it! is the most original music game to find it’s way to the App Store this year, and will certainly be a contender for musical game of the year in our upcoming awards show. It’s the perfect blend of absolutely zaney, animated isometric pixel art and clean hip hop, dance, and rock beats. This is a game that might actually get you to start using programs like Garageband or Fruity Loops to start laying down tracks of your own! Sadly, the story mode is very short, and the freeplay mode doesn’t have enough features to keep you coming back. But for three bucks, it’s certainly a game worth experiencing, and will leave you with a confused grin on your face.