It’s all about the notes you don’t hit.
Most music games don’t actually involve the player making music. More typically, the gamer is striving to perform gameplay feats that correspond to certain notes or beats within an underlying song. Starbloom operates on a similar level, and like all games of its kind risks losing the emphasis on music beneath the game’s mechanics.
The first thing players experience in Starbloom is a set of orbital bodies that radiate beads of light. The player’s avatar is a much brighter point of light- which is controlled by dragging one’s finger across the screen. Each light bead emitted in orbit corresponds to a note. By passing through and collecting these beads, the player can ‘release’ the musical note within each one. Each level of orbit corresponds to a different set of notes or sounds, and as the player hops between orbits they must also avoid collision with planets.
This is the basic setup for Starbloom: release notes to make music, and don’t crash into a planet. The game includes a secondary mode that forces players to crash in to planets to trigger the release of notes. The player is not only tasked with the creative aspect of playing music, but also with collecting notes rapidly to increase their score and multiplier. These two basic objectives collide, and ultimately one element will win out over the other. It is difficult to piece together your own song and simultaneously shoot for a high score. While it is apparent that the game’s focus is on score, I am always a bit disappointed that the ‘music’ aspect of most music games ends up being rather inconsequential (see also: Sound Shapes).
I would have a problem if rapidly swiping over notes made a jumbled mess of a song, but it doesn’t. While the songs are hard to focus on, and don’t play a critical role in the game, they are definitely pleasant.
Graphically, Starbloom doesn’t do much to impress; the game is represented rather simply on screen. I also found that my finger covered critical information within the game, such as planets. The included offset capabilities don’t do much to mitigate this problem, either. I took further issue with the musical notes that are immediately launched into the heart of the sun, which acts as a “no-fly zone.” There doesn’t seem to be a good way to pick notes up after they are launched into a place the game tells you not to go.
Starbloom is a simple game, and I was able to complete it over the course of two short sittings. I don’t feel compelled to repeat the content, primarily because I just didn’t find myself that engrossed. Starbloom has a pleasant aural accompaniment- which is probably the best thing about this otherwise unremarkable game.
Starbloom is available for $0.99 as a Universal download on the App Store