The Future of Rhythm & Music Games
Before I begin, I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all of those other holidays which all seem to happen to fall in to this time of the year, including my 21st birthday, for those of you who were unaware. Yes, check that About Weasel page if you are curious to finally see the first picture of me on my Blog, and with my first drink no less. It’s a month of firsts, let me tell you. Oh, and 2009 will be a year of firsts as well. I’m starting work on a secret project, which you’ll be able to find information about on the Project Source page I’ve just created. And don’t forget to check out my Video Games page, which, I promise, I’ll get around to fully updating soon enough. But, without further ado, let’s get to the real meat and potatoes of this entry. Mmmm… meat and potatoes… I’m hungry, damn.
Music and rhythm games come in all shapes and sizes these days. Obviously, some of the most popular are games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, or one of my personal favorites, Dance Dance Revolution. They can also be karaoke, SingStar and Lips being examples of those, or even more different, Elite Beat Agents and Wii Music. But a handful of more unique, non-mainstream rhythm games have been put out on the PC, the most notable now being Audiosurf. I’ve always personally been a fan of Audiosurf, and it’s available on Steam for $4.99 until the end of their sale, so I’d recommend it.
Audiosurf created something new and different that captured people quickly. The premise of Audiosurf is that it takes your music, any song that you have in an MP3 format, and scans it for it’s beat and tone. Then, it creates a highway based on the pitch the music takes, and you, playing as the vehicle on this highway, are made to run over colored blocks to create combinations, depending on which mode you play in. There are many different modes, which range from the simple mode of picking up the color blocks and avoiding gray ones, to harder modes which force you to match up at least three of each color to acquire points from it. This game can be played with your keyboard, but is the most fun when played with your mouse. This game had me hooked from the beginning, because, as stated earlier, it can be used with any song you could possibly happen to have in your entire library.
There are more than just that, though, that you can find on the internet. Take for example a game that is nothing but a Flash demo still so far, yet very advanced to begin with. The game is called Auditorium, and it’s made by a company called Cipher Prime. Even by checking out their Website and their Blog, it’s easy to see that they know a thing or two about creativity. Auditorium features a completely original orchestrated soundtrack, and it is what drives the game. The idea of the game is extremely simple. The “Flow” is a stream of white lines that come from a starting point. The objective is to change the direction of those lines using “Controls”, which range from simple directions, to the most advanced control in the demo being the “Attract” control, which makes the flow wrap around in circles around it. The destination for this flow is “Containers”, which are bars, like you would find in a recording studio. When all of the varied containers in the level are filled up to the top, you are taken to the next level. There is a lot to explain about this game, but I would recommend just heading over and trying it out yourself. The demo only contains three stages, some of which can be difficult and annoying, but with time, each one can be figured out.
The market for rhythm games is vast, but more unique ideas, such as the one used in Auditorium, are needed to keep it as alive as it is right now. The constant rehashes of Guitar Hero games will eventually lead to over saturation, and the amount of sales they will get will eventually fall. For my personal self, I’ve ceased buying any of the Guitar Hero games due to the fact that it is continuously being milked for all that it’s worth. There comes a point where I feel disgusted that they’ve made so many of the same thing, that I’m just torn away from wanting it anymore. Many people could come back and say that the Final Fantasy series has done the same thing, but I would like to point out that every Final Fantasy game is a unique storyline, with unique features and elements built in to them, and even if some of the mechanics are similar, the story is always many, many hours different than the others. Ideas like this, and quite possibly flOw as well, will shape the direction that music-related games will go in the future.
Also, semi-related, in the aspect of music, check out the band that did the soundtrack for the video game Mirror’s Edge, Solar Fields. They have an area where you can listen to music directly on their website, and if you love instrumental music as much as I do, you will definitely enjoy many of their tracks that they’ve created over the time.