|Dev: Will Co.|
|Release: November 23, 2010|
|Screen Resolution: 480p - 720p|
by Andrew Groen
I'm a big believer in the PlayStation Move software. It's essentially just the Nintendo Wii with better precision, and that could open up a lot of doors for game designers (at least in comparison to the far more abstract controls of the equally interesting Kinect). The only problem thus far is that nobody has come up with any intriguing new concepts, and that has likely caused the loss of interest we've seen in hardcore gamers.
Beat Sketcher is a new, unique way of playing a rhythm game only possible on PlayStation Move. This may spark the interest of a gaming public that is becoming increasingly jaded about motion-control gaming.
There's likely to be some confusion about what Beat Sketcher actually is and how it plays. Personally, I didn't have a clue when I first loaded the game. It hasn't received much media attention, and (being just a $15 downloadable game) obviously hasn't had much of an ad campaign. Beat Sketcher is at once both a sandbox game as well as a rhythm game. Both types are featured prominently in the game. In the free-drawing mode you can use the the multiple MS-Paint-esque tools to draw as you please with the screen as your canvas.
The other major mode is the Challenge Mode, and it is undoubtedly the most intriguing aspect of the game. Anybody who played Elite Beat Agents on the Nintendo DS will be familiar with the type of gameplay going on here. A spot appears on the screen, and the player hovers the Move controller over that spot. A circle then begins to close on the spot (it's a timer). When the circle finishes closing, the player then attempts to trace the prescribed line in beat with the music.
Even if it does ape pretty liberally from Elite Beat Agents' formula, it's welcome here and works fairly well. It isn't perfect though. For starters, the objective of tracing the line according to the music is difficult. How to understand the pace of each line isn't explained well. Since each line comes at a different point in the song, the speed will vary, and it's hard to know how fast you'll need to trace it. Also, tracing the line precisely is nearly impossible, and the system isn't lenient.
Which lines receive great scores and which get bad scores seems arbitrary. You can trace the line perfectly (in terms of shape and length) but may still get a "Bad" rating since it was off-kilter. At the same time, your line can be ugly as sin, wiggling, and off-beat, and it will still get an "Excellent" score. The scoring just doesn't seem to line up with the objective of eventually making a good picture.
The fact that the challenge mode is the best reason to own Beat Sketcher is disappointing. It can be bested in very little time at all. So even though I'd love to recommend this game based solely on the weight of this unique rhythm game, the brevity makes that impossible. You'll need to plan on getting some value out of the free-sketching mode in order to get your money's worth here.
Beat Sketcher will work best for families, the first family-oriented game to be introduced on the move. There's potential here for a quality hardcore game, but the effort just wasn't put into it, and there's not enough content to justify a purchase based on those grounds.
The free-sketch mode is engaging, although light on content. It plays out essentially like Microsoft Paint except you use the controller to paint the screen as though it were the canvas for your masterwork. The big problem here is that almost everything turns out looking like rubbish. You can use all of the awesome tools at your disposal, but my suspicion is that it would take dozens of hours to become competent enough with the tool set to create anything worthwhile.