Thursday 6 March, 2008
For the second play period, the play was much the same as the first; I continued playing new songs, and started making a list of songs that I'd like to play but do not have at the moment - Dragonforce, Freebird, etc. You can get some extreme gameplay here, or extremely placid gameplay - it really is entirely up to which song one chooses.
Where to begin? This game follows the overarching design philosophy of 'ride your music,' also the game's tagline. When playing, the mechanic is very, very simple: run your ship into blocks to get groups of three of the same color. Certain ships have special powers which can be activated by clicking the right or left mouse buttons, which means that the entire game can be played with nothing but the mouse and good coordination.
What strikes me most about the design of this game is the elements that end up taking away from the brilliant gameplay. The designers got one thing right, which is the focus on the music being both played, and played, if you'll excuse the pun. What's missing is a good menu system and file browser implementation; if you're going to have the user be looking for music tracks, you want it to be easy to find them from within the game. The other complaint I have is the lack of a 'playlist' mode, where the player would be able to queue up several tracks and play each one sequentially. As it stands, the player must be forced out to the game menu before choosing the next track to play, and the play experience suffers for it.
So that it might not sound like I'm set against the game, I will say that the part where the player is actually PLAYING is a study in design excellence. The game engine produces game tracks that seem like something out of a Technicolor dream, with bright colors and spinning geometry to liven up the landscape if the player has a moment to glance away from the oncoming blocks. The tracks are shown suspended in a black, grey, or white emptiness; downhill slopes represent relatively fast sections, and uphill slopes represent relatively slow sections of the song. The goal of the play, and it is a goal that is admirably achieved, is to make the game all about the music.