Rhythm Zone Review
Rhythm Zone Box Art
System: PC
Dev: Sonic Boom
Pub: Sonic Boom
Release: July 20, 2010
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: N/A

Sound-wise, we had no problem with the actual recordings (Rhythm Zone plays files as well as any media player does), but the effects leave something to be desired. Mistakes are met with static and/or the song lowering in volume (you can turn both effects off in the options), and bland chimes tell you when you're doing a good job. Also, relative to its big-name competitors, Rhythm Zone has rudimentary graphics. While the fretboard looks nice enough, there are no screaming crowds, no Slash or Joe Perry character models, and not even so much as a stage.

Rhythm Zone Screenshot

The controls are fine for the most part. You can use your keyboard to play (by default, ASDF and JKL; play notes, and the space bar gives you "focus power"), and the game is compatible with all of the USB-based guitar peripherals. Unfortunately, however, it doesn't support strumming; all you have to do is hit the correct button at the correct time to get points for a note. While Rhythm Zone's failure to create believable tracks kills the immersion factor on its own, the lack of strumming doesn't help matters.

To be fair, Rhythm Zone does most of the little things right. For example, when it analyzes your track, it locates in the last.fm database and names it, and we had 100 percent success with this feature. It also enables you to send and receive high-score challenges on songs you share in common with other users. Further, the included visualizer works well. Additional visualizers are available as DLC. For the most part, you won't pay much attention to the various images and patterns that move about in the background, but sometimes they'll do just the right thing at just the right time. For example, "T.N.T." speeds up dramatically at the end, and the visualizer emphasized this change by shaking and pumping much more noticeably in time with the music. A little touch like that can help induce an adrenaline rush in the player, and the rock-star fantasy is what these games are all about.

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But you need more than a good light show to be a rock star. Games like Guitar Hero are fun because they allow gamers to feel like they're playing the guitar without actually, you know, learning to play the guitar. To give someone that feeling, developers need to spend the time sorting out each song's guitar track and assembling a note track that matches. As of now, there's no way for a computer to take a random song, find the guitars, and create a plausible note track from scratch. Seen purely as a matter of technology, Rhythm Zone might be a useful first step in changing that. But this idea has a long way to go before it poses any threat to the rhythm-game genre's heavy hitters.

By Robert VerBruggen
CCC Freelance Writer

RATING OUT OF 5
RATING DESCRIPTION
3.5
Graphics
They're rudimentary, but they work, and the visualizer is a nice touch.
3.2
Control
The lack of strum support is a bummer, but the compatibility with USB-based peripherals is nice.
4.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
You pick your own soundtrack, so there are no issues in that department. However, the sound effects are weak.
2.5
Play Value
At $10 it won't break the bank, and the basic premise is solid, but the bottom line is that the core feature doesn't work.
2.7
Overall Rating - Average
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
Review Rating Legend
0.1 - 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 3.5 - 3.9 = Good 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair 4.0 - 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • Multiplayer support: Send and receive high-score challenges on songs that you have in common with friends and global players!
  • 50 free songs: The full version comes with fifty free songs from up-and-coming indie artists, and more are added all the time!
  • Play your own music: You can play any of your favorite songs from your library! Rhythm Zone supports a wide variety of file types and will identify most common songs against our database. We dynamically create game data from any song and constantly improve our analysis to help unleash your inner rock star!
  • Online Leaderboards: Compare your scores to those of others in the Rhythm Zone community, and find out who is the best in the world for any song and difficulty level!
  • Achievements: Earn over eighty Steam achievements by playing your music.
  • Visualizers: Dynamic background visualizers that are generated by your music and performance create a unique game experience each time you play. More amazing and exceptional visualizers become available every month!

  • Screenshots / Images
    Rhythm Zone Screenshot - click to enlarge Rhythm Zone Screenshot - click to enlarge Rhythm Zone Screenshot - click to enlarge Rhythm Zone Screenshot - click to enlarge Rhythm Zone Screenshot - click to enlarge

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