Game Reviews

Beaterator (iPhone)

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| Beaterator
Beaterator (iPhone)
| Beaterator

For every great performer there's someone who thinks they know how to sing and dance but can't croon worth a cent. It's these guys and gals - the William Hungs of the world - that enjoying singing their hearts out, yet don't have the self-consciousness to know that they're breaking mirrors rather than glass ceilings.

Beaterator lacks the same awareness, apparently believing itself to be an easy-to-use music mixer with plenty of cool to match its score of beat-tweaking features. Instead, it's an unintuitive musical toy - one that conceptually sounds cool but fails to lay out any worthwhile gameplay.

The game's undeniable aura of cool stems from a collaboration with famed producer Timbaland, who has put beats behind some of the biggest artists, from Aaliyah to Justin Timberlake to Missy Elliot.

Beaterator makes it clear that piecing together slick rhythms is tough work, both from a technical and creative standpoint.

Dancer in the dark

By failing to provide a tutorial, the game starts off on the wrong foot. The particulars of situating audio loops within a song, adjusting the reverb, and other elements are difficult to grasp without a guided tour.

A help menu provides explanatory text on all of the game's features, but it's too dense to provide much aid. An explanation of how to adjust gain and pan aren't much help if you don't even know where to find those options or precisely what they affect.

When you manage to figure out how to bend Beaterator to your musical will, it becomes clear that your freedom to create music is limited to mixing and matching audio loops.

In other words, the ability to generate unique tracks is handicapped by the fact that you're doing nothing more than moving sounds around on a eight-track grid. This isn't a music-maker: it's an audio tangram puzzle.

The decision to forego sound editing - a feature found in the Beaterator PSP within Studio mode - is understandable given the lower price here.

However, that undercuts the game's claim of providing a full suite of tools for composing original beats. To be fair, eliminating the complexity of custom loop editing makes this iPhone version more straightforward. It's not a breeze to use, but it's less intense than on PSP.

Highs and lows

Inconsistent quality has some loops crackling through your headphones or speakers, while others pipe through just fine. It's clear that some loops intentionally sound rough (UK Garage, for example, is meant to crackle a bit), yet the audio quality on a good deal of loops isn't ideal.

Integration with Rockstar Social Club enables you to upload completed tracks online, as well as download tunes created by other users. Given the lack of game's direction, such networking is essential in motivating continued play.

Beaterator is in sore need of more structure - a beat-mixing Career mode or Challenge mode that asks you to finish songs would do much to mold the experience into an actual game.

Catching a glimpse of the game's visualiser sums up the experience of playing Beaterator nicely: it thinks it's cool moving to the beat, but it looks less than elegant.

Beaterator (iPhone)

Without structure and a user-friendly design, Beaterator is not so much a game as it is a musical toy - and not a very entertaining one at that