Features & News

Hands On: Beatbuddy

June 26, 2013, Author: Matt Parker

It’s fairly safe to say that it wasn’t long ago when people didn’t really care about how a game sounded. It was all ‘polygon count’ this and ‘number of on-screen enemies’ that. People didn’t deem the audio of their game to be that important.

Times have changed. We’ve got orchestras knocking out themes from our favourite games, downloadable soundtracks and press releases telling us to get excited about artists that feature within upcoming games. One of those upcoming games that has some very interesting audio is Beatbuddy. So listen up.

Whilst the importance of the game’s audio is clear, it’s also clear that everything else has had as much love and attention placed on it. Playing as the titular ‘Beatbuddy’, you swim about each level aiming to save the land of Symphonia.

You need to see this moving. It's lovely.

You need to see this moving. It’s lovely.

Imagine the flying levels from Rayman or the underwater levels from Donkey Kong Country and you have an idea of how this game controls. Each stroke that Beatbuddy takes is in time with the music and it’s this synergy with the audio that’s the games biggest strength.

The game’s love and appreciation for all things audio extends into its level design, with launch pads reacting in time with the current music’s bass drum, ‘hi-hat crabs’ that respond (amazingly) to the track’s hit-hat and so on.

All of these audio elements react accordingly to your actions and will affect how you have to work your way through a level. For example, punch out some ‘hi-hat crabs’ and the hi-hat won’t be playing anymore. Another example is that you’ll come across barriers that require you to time your movement to the song’s snare beat.

All of this music-centric gameplay would be for nought if it weren’t for the fact that the music’s pretty darn slick. Naturally, only a small amount of the soundtrack was heard during the hands-on demo, but with someone as recognised as Austin Wintory (Journey) involved in the soundtrack, hopes are high that everything we’ve not heard is just as polished and catchy.

Again. A still image does this game no justice.

Again. A still image does this game no justice.

All of this great interactive audio wouldn’t be worth much if the rest of the game didn’t hold up well. Luckily, the visuals are pretty stunning. All hand drawn, the game is made up of multiple layers that give it a near 3D feel, such is the smoothness of the parallax scrolling on show. A quick mention for Beatbuddy himself. He’s pretty cute and has a large amount of personality, especially when it comes to his idling animations, where he’ll happily tap his feet and bob his head to the beat. As we all know, a platformer’s only as good as its lead character.

A slight concern could be that the levels look a little linear. If you’re hoping for a ‘Metroid-vania’ kind of game, this isn’t it. Hopefully the game will keep players interested with puzzles and a varied landscape – there’s currently vehicle sections and a few puzzles though, so that’s a plus.

Very much in the vein of Rayman, Beatbuddy looks set to be a gorgeous platformer with a great musical twist being put to good effect.

Set for release ‘soon’, expect to see Beatbuddy on Steam with the Threaks team hoping to bring it to ‘other’ platforms as well. Eventually.