I’ve always wanted to be artistic. It took several years and a failed first year Art A level to make me realise that perhaps I was barking up the wrong tree. Finally I get a chance to redeem myself though as the PlayStation Move title ‘Beat Sketcher’ is heading to the PSN. Beat Sketcher is an augmented reality game, which turns the Move controller into a paint brush and lets you loose upon the world.
When entering the main menu you are greeted by a number of bright, cheerful looking options. Feeling confident, I headed straight to the ‘Challenge Mode’ to test my artistic flair against whatever the PS3 could throw at me. Challenge Mode consists of a number of locked out boxes, which gradually become active as you progress. In each box is a picture of an object, a flower for example, and how it should look in its finished state. You will then be transported to a blank screen where you will be asked to draw said object. It’s not as easy as that though, as Beat Sketcher is part rhythm action game.
This is where it gets awkward to explain, so bear with me. Every level has an underlying musical beat. The game will then set about drawing a picture line by line in time with this beat. Every line drawn creates its own musical sound which adds to the underlying beat. You then have to trace over these lines at the exact speed the game did, keeping in time with the music. Confused? Excellent, that means I’ve earned my cookie for the day! Each line you draw gets rated from ‘excellent’ to ‘bad’ depending on a number of factors.
Chaining together multiple ‘greats’ and ‘excellents’ will earn you combo points, and if you score highly enough you will be given a medal at the end of the level. Being a Move title I automatically went in thinking I could probably ace this mode no problem; however the wife found me an hour later curled up in the corner rocking back and forth whilst humming Cheryl Cole’s ‘Fight For This Love’ (don’t ask). Challenge Mode is surprisingly difficult! Due to the precise nature of Move, it will pick up arm wobbles (not too much of a problem) and total utter cack-handedness (major problem) and translate it onto the screen accordingly. The game does allow for minor errors, but to get top marks requires some form of superhuman Move trickery.
Next up is ‘Match Mode’, which contains a number of fun, if a little shallow, mini games. One has you trying to paint as much of the screen as possible in a given time limit, whilst another has you drawing as long a line as possible without a) hitting any part of the line you’ve drawn, and b) touching the side of the screen. The most addictive of these games sees you having to essentially play ‘connect the dots’ whilst avoiding obstacles on the screen. It sounds about as lively as a funeral, but it’s good fun. Multiplayer mode is a mixed bag unfortunately, with over half the games unlikely to get a play-through more than twice.
Lurking alongside these disappointing mini games is a total gem though, which gives you a scenario such as ‘draw a man reading a newspaper’ which you then have to do; no guidance, no lines to trace, just your imagination. Having watched your effort, your opponent then has to take the Move controller and draw the same description. Cue shouts of “you cheating blaggard, you’re just copying me!” as you desperately try and nudge them and put them off. That might be just me though. At the end the game judges the best sketch and decides on a winner. It works very well and creates some terribly clichéd ‘Wii advert’ style moments as everyone is grinning like a loon whilst prancing about the living room. Although at least in the adverts nobody tripped over the cat or Thomas the Tank Engine.
The ‘Creation Mode’ can be likened to a fancy version of ‘Microsoft Paint’, where you can use the toolset to mess about and do whatever you please. Paint a picture, take photos and trace over them, explore all the different pre-set sketches; it will last as long as your interest does. Unfortunately that’s the problem – just how long will it hold your attention? The Challenge Mode is very short, to the point where I had a bronze/silver medal on all levels within an hour. Going back for gold will take a fair while, but there isn’t much incentive to do so bar grabbing those trophies. The Match Mode adds a dose of much needed longevity, and the multiplayer mode is a nice distraction, but even then the whole lot can be blasted though fairly quickly.
- Wonderful soundtrack
- Great gameplay
- A couple of novel multiplayer games
- Interesting Creation Mode
- Challenge Mode is too short
- It may struggle to hold your attention
- Some throw-away mini games
I’m finding it difficult to assign a score to Beat Sketcher. Looked at as a game it is a fun experience that is over far too quickly. However, those that lose themselves in the Creation Mode will find the hours flying by and will be more than happy with their purchase. Hopefully you’ll already have an idea as to what camp you fall into.