Genre:  Music

RHYTHM THIEF & the Paris Caper Review: A shaky beat at best

Jan 21, 2014

Attention, rhythm game enthusiasts: Rhythm Thief & The Paris Caper is not a straight port of Rhythm Thief & The Emperor's Treasure for the Nintendo 3DS. It's actually a title engineered specifically for mobile platforms, and it apes – curiously enough – the hit card/battle game Puzzle & Dragons.

[Audience groans in disappointment]

Yeah, it's a bit of a bummer, but it's not a washout. Rhythm Thief & The Paris Caper is certainly interesting, and it has moments where it shines as brightly as a disco ball on Saturday night. Unfortunately, its disjointed pacing, frequent loading times, and panhandling for in-app purchases bust up its rhythm.

You play through The Paris Caper as Raphael, a young man who's a shy Parisian student by day and the notorious art thief "Phantom R" by night. Though he lifts art, Phantom R is actually on the trail of his father who vanished several years prior without an explanation.

RHYTHM THIEF & the Paris Caper

The action in The Paris Caper is carried out via several mini-games peppered in between static story scenes. Most of the mini-games are based on reflexes or luck, requiring you to hit buttons quickly, pop as many balloons as possible, or stop a roulette on a treasure chest. The fun really begins when you play a rhythm game, which requires you to tap or swipe along to the music. Standard stuff for the genre, but catchy nonetheless.

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Sound Ride Review: The sounds of dying

Jan 6, 2014

Sound Ride is a level-based runner that draws inspiration from the BIT.TRIP Runner series.  Its abstract and colorful world, quirky characters, and catchy, upbeat music combine to create an environment that’s a pleasure to traverse.  Unfortunately, inconsistent physics and a limited amount of gameplay cause many of those trips to be repetitive, frustrating, and less enjoyable as a whole than its individual, charming parts.

Those trips will be made as Kiwi, a bizarre bird-man scientist in hot pink track shorts.  Kiwi accidentally altered the time-space continuum and can now run faster than light—which he must do to avoid dying.  Each of Sound Ride’s current 20 stages sees Kiwi running against a throbbing, colorful backdrop that changes hues as he progresses.  Strange contraptions, like electrical towers and flashing, stilted robots, dot the otherwise sparse, but appealingly geometric landscape. 

Sound Ride

Most of Kiwi’s time in this world is spent jumping over obstacles and one-hit dangers, like spiked hurdles and hungry alligators.  Players have only two moves at their disposal: jump and double-jump (performed by jumping mid-air).  Timing is critical as many obstacles are placed at such specific distances from each other that only one type of jump will suffice.  For instance, double-jumping over an object that has another danger immediately behind it will cause you to land on that second hazard and die.  While this adds another layer of challenge and required dexterity to the game, it also results in many just-misses that will repeatedly send Kiwi back to the beginning—or halfway checkpoint—of the level when he inevitably hits an unexpected snag. 

The frequency of death in Sound Ride is multiplied by two other issues: a limited view of what’s ahead and an inconsistent physics engine.  There are many hills and cliffs scattered throughout each stage that add depth to the run, but the camera does not lead beyond Kiwi’s current position.  This means that whatever is at the crest of a hill—usually an enemy—is impossible to see until you’re right on top of it.

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BIT.TRIP RUN! Review: As perfect as CommanderVideo’s pirouette

Nov 4, 2013

BIT.TRIP RUN! is a shining example of how to port a game to mobile.  The tightly responsive, elegantly fluid experience of BIT.TRIP Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien on PC and consoles has been translated to iOS with nearly identical content, quality, and fun intact.  Despite being best experienced with a controller/gamepad, the transition to touchscreen controls has been superbly executed, presenting mobile players with gameplay perfectly adapted to the platform without feeling watered down. 

That gameplay pits players against the same finite running levels found in Runner2 as they control the always-ambulatory CommanderVideo.  The dangerous, robotic minions of Mingrawn Timbletot are spread across three worlds—the Welkin Wonderland, Emerald Brine, and Supernature—in an attempt to stop our hero from escaping his current imprisonment in an unknown dimension.  Players of BIT.TRIP RUN! will be treated to the same story, Charles Martinet-narrated cutscenes, and even wacky commercials available in Runner2, although the final two worlds—the Mounting Sadds and Bit.Trip—will be released in a future, free update.

BIT.TRIP RUN!

Each level requires transporting CommanderVideo or one of his seven unlockable friends—like CommandGirlVideo and Reverse Merman—from start to finish while dodging everything from bottomless pits to boxing robots, spiked balls to wooden bot blockades.  Our always-in-motion characters can perform most of the same actions they utilized in Runner2, with a few changes made specifically for the touchscreen format.  Players will tap to jump, hold to glide, swipe down to slide, swipe right to kick or block, and swipe left to dance—a stylish move used only to rack up points, but one that BIT.TRIP RUN! would feel incomplete without.  Because tapping is inevitably slower than button-mashing, many of the stairway sections of levels have been fitted with automatic trampolines that propel CommanderVideo up and over without requiring the player to tap themselves to death.  Other springboards have also been automated, activating when run over instead of via player input.

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BIT.TRIP RUN! Preview: An excuse to touch CommanderVideo

Oct 4, 2013

We’ve been gleefully bounding through the colorful and surreal world of BIT.TRIP Presents Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien since its release in March, blissful yet tethered to our PCs, desperately in need of a shower.  Gaijin Games smelled our seven-month game funk and has come through with an updated port of Runner2 that can be played on the go: BIT.TRIP RUN! for iOS.  Although BIT.TRIP RUN! won’t be available until an as-yet-undisclosed future date, we got a chance to go hands-on with both its beta build and the brain of lead designer Danny Johnson for a doubly delicious sneak peek.

Unlike the other upcoming port of Runner2 for PS Vita, BIT.TRIP RUN! has been tweaked and rebuilt specifically for touch screens.  Stages still offer an intense amount of challenge—and three difficulty levels to choose from—but the difficulty won’t be due to sloppy controls.  What once took an entire gamepad’s worth of buttons can now be completed with the tap or swipe of one finger.  CommanderVideo will still jump, slide, block, kick, and dance his way to victory, performing every action he is capable of in Runner2

BIT.TRIP RUN!

“We did not remove any abilities,” Johnson told Gamezebo, “but we did take out some obstacles that would be difficult with the new control style. The slide jump is trickier to perform now, so we replaced those obstacles. The interaction with other obstacles has been modified to be more straightforward and less demanding of constant input.”  One example of this reduced input is the addition of “stair hoppers,” or automatic trampoline-like bouncers that make the many short steps in BIT.TRIP RUN! easier to navigate.  Not every step contains a hopper; they are integrated intelligently throughout stages to prevent tap-exhaustion.

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My Muppets Show Review: The tune’s a little familiar, but the harmonies still shine

Aug 5, 2013

It’s time to play the music. It’s time to light the lights. It’s time to have some fun, so pull out your iOS device. My Muppets Show by Disney and Big Blue Bubble (BBB) is a simulation/music game that plays a great deal like BBB’s excellent My Singing Monsters. In fact, My Muppets Show simply swaps out one horde of cute monsters for another. It’s hard to complain, however, since Jim Henson’s shaggy puppet pals are legendary. They also have some great pipes, and some corny jokes.

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Dropchord Review: Gorgeous and sleek, but a bit too style over substance

Aug 5, 2013

There's a massive difference between how you approach games that offer style over substance, rather than vice versa. In a stylish game that doesn't offer a huge amount of depth, there can be this initial burst of excitement and adoration for just how incredible the quality of the production is, but this is often followed up by the steady realization that there ain't much going on under that gorgeous bonnet.

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Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians Review: Skipping one too many beats

Aug 14, 2013

Beatbuddy is a difficult game to dislike, and the truth is I don't dislike it. But when I see the game world and hear snippets of the music and think about the idea behind it all, I am disappointed nonetheless. It's close – it's really close – to being something special. But in the end, it just doesn't quite pull it off.

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My Muppets Show Walkthrough

Aug 6, 2013

My Muppets Show is a music game from Disney, wherein you will be able to collect Muppets and play music with them in order to put on great shows that people want to watch. Reuniting the Muppets and collecting them can turn out to be a difficult process, but with Gamezebo’s quick start guide you’ll have all of the tips, tricks, and walkthroughs you’ll need to stay ahead of the game.

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Beat Blocks Preview: Can’t stop the beat!

Jul 3, 2013

Are you tired of listening to the same old forgettable soundtracks while playing your favorite matching and puzzle games? Sure, you could just put your iPod on and turn down the sound of your game, but then you’re still trying to juggle two completely different experiences at once, and quite frankly, some songs might be a bit too jarring for whatever game that you’re trying to play. But what if I said there was a new matching game that let you pick the soundtrack, and made the entire experience based upon your very own personalized iTunes library?

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Retro/Grade Review: Into rhythm games? You’ll need Retro/Grade.

Mar 26, 2013

It turns out that when you reverse a side-scrolling space shooter, you get a Guitar Hero-like rhythm game instead. If you based your purchase of Retro/Grade on the screenshots alone then you might well be initially disappointed, then rather curious, and soon after, rapidly satisfied.

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