Don’t Miss a Beat
Beat City is a simple rhythm game. It’s not a must-have game, it’s a fun novelty. Best played in small doses, it doesn’t have much depth, and the repetitive nature of the gameplay is certain to lead to distraction. Overall it’s a colorful, cartoon-styled game with upbeat music that harkens to the golden age of gaming. Beat City is lighthearted, cute, and whimsical, and if you’re not fond of those three words, then you’re advised to take the first train out of town.
Although Beat City appears to be designed for a younger market, I can find a lot to like about the game, and can appreciate how the developers tried to make it interesting for all ages. Let’s just say that at under twenty bucks it’s not a bad deal, but I would like it a lot more if was under ten bucks. Get my point? It’s lowered expectations that make me like this game. If it were priced at thirty bucks I would hate it, but I can enjoy it for under twenty. Beat City is not worth more than twenty bucks, plain and simple. And that’s mainly because Beat City is a little too plain and simple.
There’s a convoluted storyline that I’ll explain later. It involves an alien, a whale, an evil dame, and some dude with a speaker in his head. Don’t be confused because what really matters is tapping to beats on the touch screen with the stylus. There are some 20 different rhythm games complete with a tutorial for each of them. I applaud the developers for including these tutorials in-game and not having us consult the manual or resorting to trial and error to figure them out. Once a game’s is understood it’s time to take your beating. It took me about two minutes to figure out that I was tapping the wrong screen. Using the stylus, you tap, flick, drag, swipe, and hold sections on the screen in time to the music. Eventually, you will have to use a combination of these moves. When you reach the point where the developers have run out of ideas, you unlock a more challenging difficulty level, but the gameplay doesn’t change. With only the Story and Adventure mode, and no multiplayer modes, the replay value in Beat City is truly beat.
The once thriving metropolis of Beat City has had its pulse reduced to a drip and a drab. Thanks to the killjoy antics of Dame Isoide Minor and her organization, the Cacophony Company, the life has been sucked out of the city and the once exuberant inhabitants reduced to obedient drones. Wherever there is rhythm, Dame Minor sends out a squad of mimes to silence the beat. Where there is sweet music, she sends out the Discord Troops to turn the melodies into miseries. It’s up to you, a whale, and an alien to restore the groove back to Beat City. Your character is called the Synchronizer, a kind of Banana-in-Pajama knock off with a speaker installed in his head. He’s the cat that’s going to put this town back into the swing of things by visiting various neighborhoods and playing different puzzle-style rhythm games.
I don’t want to spoil the surprise of these rhythm games, but they are interesting in their silliness. Let me just say that one game involves a bunch of guys impatiently waiting to use a crowded washroom facility. When you complete a game successfully, you restore that area of the city to its original ecstatic state. Now I wouldn’t necessarily call these micro-games, at least not when compared to Wario Ware titles, where each game lasts only a few seconds. Think of these as levels that are comprised of a series of related mini-games, building on the foundation of the original mini-game, expanding the complexity exponentially. Similar to the way a shooting gallery game throws in more civilians among the enemies to things heat up.
Much of the gameplay relies on a combination of reflexes and musical aptitude. You’re ability to anticipate the beat of the tune is not as important as reacting to the upcoming visuals. Various characters and icons will pass by, as if on-rails. At the appropriate time, they line up with your character and you will have to perform a move with the stylus. A certain character or icon will require a certain command such as a tap, while another character will require a slide and so on. As the difficulty increases different characters will be mixed together, requiring you to use a variety of these moves while keeping your eyes peeled for what’s coming next.
At times it can get frustrating, as some of the characters can look the same, especially when they are squeezed together to elicit a rapid reaction. The game is not very forgiving and it’s fairly easy to miss a beat. More frustrating than anything is that you have to play the game from the start if you miss a beat. This is where the gameplay becomes tedious. Going through the same song over and over tends to make you sloppier, as it’s not as exciting and fresh as the first or even second time. And then when the tediousness ends, repetition sets in. That’s when it’s time to put the game away for another day.
Beat City has a classic cartoon presentation with simplified, colorful graphics. There are no voiceovers as the story is revealed in comic-book form. Musically the game is rife with catchy, crazy tunes perfectly suited for the antics at hand. As you make your move, you’ll trigger various sound effects that enhance the soundtrack. The game is easy to understand but not so easy to play as it does challenge you. There are no issues with the control system, the stylus being the perfect tool for the job. You hold the DS sideways and play it like an open book. Everything feels comfortable.
Beat City is truly a game for everyone, but be warned the novelty wears off quickly.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.4 Graphics
Stylized, cool, old-school graphics. Bright, colorful, and full of charm. 4.8 Control
The stylus makes the perfect controller for tapping out commands. 4.6 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Catchy, upbeat music. Could use more real instruments. 2.6
Fun series of mini-games loses its appeal all too quickly.
3.6 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.