When a rhythm game and a shoot-em-up make a baby, the results are pretty funky.
We celebrate rhythm’s ability to transcend cultural barriers and bring us together, but if Rhythm Destruction is any indication, phat beats are capable of ripping us apart, too. And not just flesh and bone—we’re talking alien space craft.
Genre hybrids are not an unusual sight in video games, but Rhythm Destruction is a bit of an oddity: It’s a cross-breed between a rhythm game and a space-themed shoot-em-up. You deal damage to enemy ships according to how well you can stay on beat with the game’s thumping techno music. The bad guys that you shoot down are the Pop-loving forces of Planet Beibertron. Okay, okay, not really. There doesn’t seem to be a clear reason why the bad guys are shooting at you, but it doesn’t matter: Your job is to stop them, preferably while bobbing your head.
Rhythm Destruction can be played with a game pad, but your keyboard does the job, too. The A, S, W, and D keys move your ship left, down, up, and right respectively, and deftly moving your ship is crucial for navigating corridors and avoiding enemy fire. When you meet an enemy ship, an arrow icon displays on its hull, outlined by a shrinking circle. You need to tap your arrow keys in the indicated direction in order to shoot and destroy the rival ship. If you fire before the shrinking circle fits exactly around the arrow icon (in other words, if you fire off the beat), you’re granted a lower score, or you miss entirely.
Succeeding in Rhythm Destruction means getting your left hand and your right hand to work in harmony, since you need to navigate tight corridors while keeping time to the game’s rhythm. It sounds complicated, and it is. Your brain will almost certainly seize up in your early attempts to play the game, and the only solution is practice, practice, practice.
Luckily, Rhythm Destruction is a fun and unique game, and its varying challenge levels make it an appealing title for casual and core players alike. However Rhythm Destruction is definitely more of a rhythm game than a shmup: Don’t go into this one expecting anything as fluid as Bug Princess. In fact, when the bullets really start to fly, your ship’s movements can feel distressingly clunky.
Rhythm Destruction’s concept is neat (its boss battles are particularly exciting), and it has a throbbing soundtrack to back it up. However, while said soundtrack is certainly catchy, it’s also kind of limited. There are only ten tracks (though more might be coming soon), and it’d be nice if there was more variety between each song instead of “oontz-oontz-oontz” at varying tempos. Also, the graphics aren’t especially exciting: Seems like when you’ve seen one futuristic space-scape, you’ve seen them all.
Rhythm Destruction has some problems, but most of them can be ironed out in future updates. At its core, it’s an ambitious genre mash-up that largely succeeds at what it sets out to do. Let the music of all living things reach out and smack evil in the face.