Rhythm games have been losing popularity over the last few years. The over-saturation of the market, the lack of fresh ideas: many factors can explain the decline of this genre. Just when you thought the genre was about to disappear, developer Mathieu Briau launches Shield the Beat, a fresh twist on music games available on the Xbox LIVE Indie Games platform. Here are my thoughts on the game.
Shield the Beat is a rhythm game in which the player must defend a ship that is under constant enemy fire. To do so, the player must control the ship’s shield with the controller’s thumbsticks to block bullet and missiles that match the beat of the game’s songs. While this may sound easy (and it actually is relatively simple on the easiest difficulty setting), the action on screen quickly gets hectic. Bullets come from everywhere, missiles attack you when you are not expecting it; your reflexes will be put to the test. On the highest difficulty setting, you will most likely have to practice songs in order to complete them. At the end of each completed level, the player is given a rank based on how well he performed.
In addition to the One Colour mode, Shield the Beat also supports competitive and co-op multiplayer modes. Each player must defend the same ship against bullets of different colours in order to get the highest score. A Coop mode (Mirror) in which players must block similar bullet pattens is also included. For the masochists out there, this mode can be played with a single controller (something that few gamers will be able to master). For the completionists out there, the game also features multiple awards and unlockables.
Visually, the game is quite beautiful. In fact, it is probably one of the best looking Xbox LIVE Indie Games that I can recall. The game is colourful, the patterns created by the enemy ships look great and the background space stations are gorgeous. Like most music games, there is always something nice to look at even if you only are spectating.
Shield the Beat’s soundtrack is quite interesting and will satisfy most gamers looking for something new. From Elektrik Bones to Malajube and Franz Ferdinand, the game packs in a total of eight tracks that really matches the “groovy” vibe that can be felt throughout. Also, the sound effects aren’t very noticeable, which is a good thing since it puts the music in the spotlight.
Sadly, the game suffers from some minor issues. First, there are some parts were the ships boost is really fast on screen, resulting in the bullets overlapping each other. This is problematic since the player is expecting the bullets to come in a certain pattern and having them mixed up results in unfair misses (something that doesn’t happen with static displays found in standard music games). Also, while the game is packed with content (and many licensed tracks), its price is a little too high, considering the average price most Xbox LIVE Indie Games ask for, though will not break the bank.
Shield the Beat is a good game. Music fans looking for a new formula on the genre will enjoy the new ideas behind the game. The game is fun, complete, challenging and features a great soundtrack. If you love music games, you must do yourself a favour and play Shield the Beat.
Shield the Beat is available on the Xbox LIVE Indies Games channel for the Xbox 360 for 400 Microsoft Points ($5 US). A review copy was provided by the developer for reviewing purposes.
- Fun and addictive gameplay
- Many good gametypes
- Solid soundtrack
- Lots of replay value
- Notes overlapping are frustrating
- Price is a little too high compared to other Xbox LIVE Indie Games
Screenshots via www.shieldthebeat.com