Music games, eh? You’re standing there, with a plastic instrument in front of a screen as notes fly by. That’s how all of them work, right? No, not always, as the Xbox Live Indie Game and PC game, Beat Hazard showed us earlier this year…
What is it, then?
It’s a twin-stick shooter (the control system is a bit different with a mouse and keyboard), akin to Super Stardust HD or Geometry Wars, but… there’s not actually any real levels. “No levels?!” I hear you scream; how can we possibly play a game with no real levels? Is this even a game? Yes, it is; rather than having levels it has music… your music. Instead of fighting against pre-defined enemies, you’ll be fighting against the enemies that your music controls… with a giant laser and bombs. Shh, it’s not that crazy.
How the hell does that work?
Simple: the louder the music, the more enemies appear and the more violent your laser beam becomes. You have to survive to the end of each song, even through the moments where the music breaks down and instead of a giant death ray you’re stuck with a tiny laser that the enemies seem to just shrug off. Damn those acoustic sections! Throughout the song, you’ll need to collect volume tokens to make your music louder and you’ll get power and score multiplier tokens, too.
Why would you want to play that?
Have you never wanted to see what it’s like having a game controlled by your music library? If not, you’re bound to like twin-stick shooters and pretty colours. The best thing about Beat Hazard is that it never really ends; you can’t properly complete it. You can complete albums, but the only limit is the amount of music in the world, and there’s millions more albums out there for you to complete. In fact, the only way to really complete the game is to ascend through the ranking system and be an Ultimate Super Music Dude (I may have made that term up).
Surely it can’t look that good, too?
At first, when the music’s just starting and you haven’t collected many volume tokens, it looks like a general twin-stick shooter with a nice starfield background. Then, the music really kicks in and as you start blasting the asteroids and enemies with your laser, it lights up the sky and changes colour and size depending on the music. The bright, vibrant colours are constantly flashing across the screen and it looks simply beautiful; as if the sprites are dancing around to the track you’ve selected, with a gigantic fireworks show in the background
Right, who made this stroke of genius?
Cold Beam Games, otherwise known as Steve Hunt. Yes, that’s just one guy. He made this entire game by himself. I don’t know if he’s a genius or magic or something, but we know he’s a cool dude.
Blair, why did you write this?
This was a news article at first; I was going to tell all you lovely people about Beat Hazard Ultra and how it’s coming to PSN, PC and Mac next year. There was going to be a list of updated features, a clever pun and a little anecdote. Then I figured that you probably didn’t actually know much about Beat Hazard and I remembered how much I loved it, so I wrote this instead.
Brilliant! Where can I buy it?
It’s on Steam, XBLIG and a few other PC retailers at the moment, all of which are listed here. There’s a trial for you to try if you’re not completely convinced, but believe me, it’s a brilliant game. If you have a PC or an Xbox and you’ve not even tried Beat Hazard, you should do that right now, if you only have a PS3, just wait, Q2 next year isn’t too far away. If Beat Hazard wasn’t unique and extremely fun, you’d be reading a list of update features and have no idea of what I’m talking about. Here’s a little video to push you over the edge:
See! You don’t need plastic instruments to have a lot of fun with music in a game.