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Beat Hazard Review

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I love music games, and rhythm games quite a bit. Though I'm not the biggest fan of the Guitar Hero or Rock Band experience when it pertains to music based video games. If anything I am a much bigger champion of quirky games like Rez and Audiosurf which feature deceptively deep gameplay, intricately blending beat synchronized gameplay and point linking that's about as addictive as a nicotine infused cheeseburger.

Beat Hazard is neither of these types of games. It instead is a twin stick controlled bullet hell game in the style of Ikaruga, or R-type in it's primary style of gameplay, with a little dash of Asteroids thrown in just for good measure. You pilot your ship through a single screen of space debris, ships, bullets, and giant boss fights, but the major twist here, is that your music powers your ship's offensive capability. Simply put, the more intense your music is, the more frequently your ship will dispense death, because the beats of the music are what dictate when your ship fires or not. I learned pretty fast that Ministry, and MC Chris are the sonic equivalent of certain death for my enemies, while music like Radiohead, or Burial resulted in me getting blown up into tiny little astro chunks due to a complete lack of firepower. The gameplay twists don't end there however... as your weapons power up system is based on two more things, volume, and power. You can increase your volume or weapon power by snagging power ups as a result of killing space jerks, or blowing up the random space junk that populates the screen. Volume power ups control the strength of your guns, and increase the volume of your songs in game, and the POW power ups add more projectiles to your assault. When you manage to max both your power and your volume your ship enables the eponymous Beat Hazard cannon, and you become an unstoppable force of sonic death, which results in a dazzling display of visualizations and plenty of explosions to boot.

The game is a lot of fun, the dual stick controls are tight, and it offers a good amount of replay-ability just in the simple fact that you can generate more content as long as you continue to buy music. It also features a fairly deep rewards system, leaderboards, and achievements through Steam. But it's not as polished as it's more established preceding peer Audiosurf, and could stand to offer a little more in terms of scenic variety. I love the visuals, but it has a tendency to become repetitive fairly quick, and where Audiosurf, generates a unique level for each song, for each difficulty, Beat Hazard is almost the same thing on each difficulty, and essentially the same thing for each song. The only major difference is that your ship shoots more or less depending on what song you pick. The bottom line? It's a great game, and a really cool and unique idea, and hopefully the developers will tweak the game with future patches or DLC and add some more content to fully explore all the possibilities that this game can offer. And as a personal suggestion, it wouldn't hurt for them to knock a couple bucks off the price. Although $9.99 is fair, it's not that compelling for what the game offers in its current form.

Beat Hazard is available for Xbox 360, and PC.

Steve Sawyer
Editor in Chief

This game is available on GamersGate

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Updated 06-09-10 at 07:52 by SteveSawyer

Tags: steam, xbla Add / Edit Tags


  1. Alexandre Guimond's Avatar
    I bought both versions when it came out and I would highly recommend getting the PC one. The XBOX360 is drop-dead gorgeous in 720p but it's a lot more easier to play on PC with a wired XBOX360 controller. Also, you get updates all the time on PC, the newest one added another level of difficulty which is absolutely mental!

    Great game and review!
  2. SteveSawyer's Avatar
    I do like the game quite a bit too. I think the game could use some new ships, or the ability to customize your ship, And a variance in levels and backgrounds wouldn't hurt. All in all the game is good at 10 bucks, perfect at 5 or 7 bucks.
  3. Dhalamar's Avatar
    Slight correction, it isn't on Xbox Live Arcade. It's in the Indie Games section. And is 400 points on there ($5). Now that I think about it, the reason I didn't review it when it came out on the XBLIG originally is because #1) It was yet ANOTHER goddamn dual stick shooter on XBLIG and those types of games seem to be the popular thing to do on the service. And I can't stand most dual stick shooters (I even severely dislike Geometry Wars. Though it's a friggin' gorgeous game) and #2) ... I don't do music on my Xbox hardly at all ... so I would've only had the default tracks. I would've loved to have played this with Nine Inch Nails' March of the Pigs going or something.
    Updated 17-07-10 at 05:44 by Dhalamar
  4. SteveSawyer's Avatar
    I'm only going to change it to say PC and 360, because if you're playing it on anything other than PC, you're lying to yourself.
  5. Dhalamar's Avatar
    Eh ... I see no difference whatsoever between the PC version and the 360 version. Hell, most people are even going to use the 360 controller to play the PC version anyway. Even though the keyboard/mouse control scheme works better than any controller ever could for certain types of games (namely first person shooters) it doesn't work worth a shit with dual stick shooters. :P

    I'd personally recommend the 360 version over the PC version just because of the price difference because in the end (even though when I tried it ... it didn't want to load songs off of a flash drive) ... it's just another dual stick shooter. It doesn't exactly break new ground in respect to gameplay, it's just got a gimmick that it does extremely well assuming the right style of music is being played.
  6. SteveSawyer's Avatar
    That's pretty ignorant to say about any PC game when compared to it's console counterpart. Like most PC games we're talking about larger more detailed resolutions than are possible on console, no frame limits, more space for storage for music, free long term patching support through steam, added support through DLC, and not to mention the simple fact that the patching approval process takes weeks of approval on Xbox for any one thing, as opposed to the organic nature of patching on Steam. As for the controls. If someone is going to use the logic... "well you're already using a controller, might as well just get it on Xbox" then I should be able to say to every person that ever played Phatasy Star Online on their console keyboards..... "well you're using a keyboard, might as well buy a gaming PC!" Thanks to Microsoft it's pretty safe to say the PC version of ANYTHING nowadays is superior. Doubt that, and compare any Valve press release on Xbox to their PC counterparts.

    Case closed.
  7. Dhalamar's Avatar
    Oh definitely. But none of that say anything about the game itself. That's just talking about the politics of it all that MS seems to screw up for just about everything ... and the sad part they do better than the PS3 and Wii.

    The game itself I'd more than likely just play on the PC because that's where all my music is ... except in my case I use a netbook the majority of the time and it probably wouldn't run anyway. I've got a capable PC upstairs, but it doesn't have any of my music on it, so bleh. :\

    And I actually told someone back in the day to get a video card for their PC when they were playing Phantasy Star Online/Unreal Tournament/Quake 3 Arena on the Dreamcast using a keyboard/mouse combo. They did and never played two of the three games on the Dreamcast again. lol

    There are always trade offs between PCs and consoles. The PC version of a game (unless they deliberately gimp it out of laziness like with Ghostbusters or do a bullshit little port like with Split/Second) is always going to be superior. In Beat Hazard's case, if one has a fairly capable PC, fuck yeah, play it on that. If you're one of these people who have their 360 hooked up to one of those HDTVs and for whatever reason uses it for it's media capabilities and would just rather see it on the bigger screen, play it on that. None of those things where MS severely fucks up on it's XBLIG service Vs the way Valve does it (MS rips off of everything else, they should rip off of Valve and actually do the service RIGHT for once) and the ease of everything else matters all that much in regards to the game itself in the end.

    It's all a matter of preference in the end. Most games just work immensely better on the PC, it's just a fact of life. I'd rather play Left 4 Dead 2 on the PC ... but the majority of the people I've got to play it with don't have PCs that can run it. Fine. Gamers are gamers. Consoles get damn close to the PC's quality for 300 bucks and one doesn't have to dick around with upgrading video cards and RAM and things of that nature, despite the fact that the companies do a shitty job with the downloadable games services on ALL ends ... the Wii being the worst. There are other games that, even when considering all the politics of it, work better on a console. I wouldn't be able to stand playing Madden huddled up to a PC monitor. With the graphical quality of those particular games getting better and better every day (and if they even released a PC version of course) sure, it'd be better on the PC by a long shot. But generally people who play that game want a huge screen to play it on. One of my friends went out and bought a 50somethin inch plasma just FOR that game. And I still call him nuts for it to this day. :P

    The same thing with those retarded band games. It'd be rather funny if there were 4 people huddled in front of a computer playing Rock Band or something. :P

    If I've got friends over, and my 360 was set up that way, hell yeah I'm going to play Beat Hazard on a 360 with a controller. When it's just me, it could go either way but more than likely end up being played on the PC. I can't agree with you more on the politics of it all, but none of that matters with regards to the game itself as it sits right now. If the developer ever gets around to releasing DLC for it, it'll more than likely only come to the PC because the XBLIG service is so limited in that regard. Unless it's just free stuff, then it'll EVENTUALLY come to the 360 if he even bothers with it. heh

    Beat Hazard is a pretty cool little game no matter what platform someone plays it on.

    I still shudder at a friend of mine ... every time I see her playing Versus on the PC version of Left 4 Dead 2 she's got a 360 controller hooked up. She keeps wondering why she gets slaughtered. lol

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