By William Haderlie / March 11th, 2016
|Title||Beat Da Beat|
|Release Date||March 11, 2016|
|Genre||Bullet Hell Shooter|
|Age Rating||E for Everyone|
It is perhaps fitting that I reviewed Rogue Legacy for the site a very short time ago. I think that this game, Beat Da Beat, does for shooters what the other did for roguelikes. While the trappings are decidedly old school with wonderful pixel art design, this title actually adds some new twists to the hardcore subgenre of bullet hell shooters. Also like Rogue Legacy, one of the largest additions is persistent progress. You earn gold with each playthrough and it is used to unlock new ship types and to upgrade the Health, Bombs, and Shot Power of each ship.
Each ship has a widely diverse set of shots, most of which are culled from the long history of space shooters. Firing is continuous, so you don’t have to click or hold any button for it. The movement of the ship is done by moving the mouse. Like other bullet hell shooters, there is only a very small (2×2 pixel) area that can be damaged on your ship. The left button (by default) is for firing your Bombs, and the right button is for using your Special.
Unfortunately, some of the more powerful ships don’t even have a Special meter in order to maintain difficulty balance. So one reason for my choice of favorite ship was the use of Special to get out of tight situations and not have to use Bombs. The special meter typically builds over time. You only have one ship, not multiple lives, but your ship starts with two Hearts. With each upgrade it gains another two hearts of life. You only ever start each run with half of your max life and half bombs, so you need to earn powerups to fill them up to full strength. Your shot strength will not vary within runs. Powerups are randomly distributed for kills, not given by killing certain enemies like in other shooters.
Your purchases and upgrades carry over regardless of the difficulty level that you select. And certain high class ships are only unlocked by beating the game on certain difficulty levels. So it’s best, in my opinion, to start with Casual and unlock that ship before you move on. Once you find a ship that you really like and feels right for you, you should upgrade it to the hilt before investing in more ships. With each new difficulty level you earn more gold per kill, so I did not feel the need to linger at any previous difficulty once I had it on lock down.
The story is fairly bare bones, but pretty fun. The hero, we’ll call him Finn for… reasons, and his girlfriend, that we’ll just happen to call Bubblegum, are camping out under the stars when aliens invade. Finn punches his way through the minions, but the boss kicks his trash and steals his Princess. Then with the tutorial help of a certain gadget that we’ll just happen to call BMO, he jumps in his ship and flies off to save the day. The pixel art and event expressions have a very Battletoads look, along with artistic choices that mirror a certain popular cartoon show.
If you cannot tell already, I am very fond of this game. This review has not even reached my favorite part of the game yet, so first, I’ll go into my few complaints. One minor complaint is the lack of diversity in the stages. You will get a bit tired of playing the same stages over again, each time to earn more gold to unlock more upgrades. And you will always have to start from the beginning. But that is such a staple of the space shooter genre that I have difficulty holding it against the game too much. The one large complaint that I had was that this build of the game is a little buggy. I’ve had to refight the first boss a couple times when it’s health bar reset, but thankfully it has only happened on the first boss. The larger bug is that each time I beat the game, I never got to see the ending. The last boss went down and then I was always stuck there on the screen with nothing to do. I always had to exit out of the game by Alt-Tabbing. Thankfully my progress was still recorded showing my having finished the difficulty level and maintaining the gold that I had earned that run.
Honestly, without those glitches I probably would have given this gem a five star score. This title truly surprised me in the best ways. My favorite part of the game was the music. Beat Da Beat is a well deserved title. The combination of rhythm and music within this genre is a pretty apt one. There is a significant history of pairing great music with space shooters, here is one of the most famous examples of a shooter with a fantastic soundtrack.
Enemy and bullet patterns are based upon the music that is currently playing in the background. That can be very beneficial for determining what is coming up after you get to know the songs. Also, boss phases are entirely based upon the music playing, not based on damage received. Typically with other shooters phase 2 or 3 of the boss fight will occur when you take their life down enough or destroy a certain part. This game’s boss music loops and the boss repeats it’s firing patterns within each phase of the song. At the higher difficulty levels that means there are times where you may want to just avoid death and wait for the next part of the song to start attacking. This is quite different from traditional bullet hell shooters. Every stage has it’s own DJ produced song, and the artist has a pixel rendering of them and their name at the beginning of each.
I was expecting more chiptune music with the art style, but the choice of using dubstep turned out good. While the game recommends headphones, this did after all start as an iPhone/Android game, if you have a really good speaker system on your computer then you may want to go with that. Especially if you have a sub woofer on your computer, you can really get bumping while devastating those aliens. If they can fix those couple of bugs, this game will be a classic. Regardless, though, I definitely recommend it for fans of the space shooter genre. For the low price of $7.99 you get a lot of game for your dollar, I may even have purchased the soundtrack alone for that.
Review Copy Provided By Developer
Beat Da BeatdubstepGame ReviewNekkiPCpixel artSteam