If only the beat could go on. Like Sonny and Cher before it, Beat It! must come to an end and you can't help but wish this duo of ingenious musical gameplay and quirky style would stick around for just one more tune.
Only one missing feature divorces this cool game from a platinum hit, but that shouldn't stop you from getting it.
Musical mimicry is the game, though it's not at all in the same vein as Rock Band or Tap Tap Revenge. Beat It! involves replicating funky electronic beats played on atop crazy colourful scenes.
A measured grid spans the screen for each level, rows corresponding to individual instruments ranging from a deep bass drum and tambourine to synthesizer and hi-hat cymbal.
The number of instruments varies per level and each world's musical style employs a unique set of instruments whether oriented to rock or house.
Tapping a square on the grid lays a beat. A correctly placed beat glitters; you know you've mistakenly toggled a note when it fails to sparkle.
Figuring out where to place beats isn't as tricky as you'd imagine. Measures are laid out in increments of four (referred to as common time), which means it's often easy to nail notes down.
The rigidity of the grid and its quarter notes - no eighth, sixteenth, or smaller denominations - avoids complicated rhythms. In turn, Beat It! remains accessible in spite of any presumed complexity.
It's actually more challenging figuring out which instrument to use. The trouble in cases where the tone of two instruments sound alike isn't where to place the beat, but on which track to place it. More time is spent on deducing which instrument track a beat belongs to than on determining the rhythm itself.
I'm your private musician
Headphones are definitely recommended when playing, since it's often difficult to distinguish between a low register tom-tom and bass drum, for example. Even when using headphones, there's a lot of trial and error in advanced levels that wears away the game's groove.
In all fairness, help is provided in the form of power-ups that eliminate squares from the grid, provide sparkling hints, and even fill in entire tracks. Expect your score to take a dive as a result, but at least you can rely on the aid whenever you get stuck.
Fights musical illiteracy and cavities too
Scores don't matter much in Beat It! anyway. In a game this unique, this cool, there's less reason to fuss over leaderboards and extra modes. So much pleasure is to be had from just taking in the rhythms and exploring the spastic scenes of Career mode that pit walking toothpaste tubes against living candies and bear witness to flying burgers. It's a psychedelic album cover come to life.
Free Play mode serves as an encore once you've completed every level. Here you're able to craft your own beats using instruments and settings unlocked from the career. You can save riffs and listen to them at any time on your device, though a network for sharing tunes would be the next step. It's the game's only major omission.Beat It! is still sweet without a sharing option and Glu has pledged to introduce the feature in a future update. Right now, however, you'll have to groove to your own tunes and enjoy Career mode licks in this fresh, fun, and inventive game.