I already know how to play the guitar… give me a game that lets me pretend I know what I’m doing on a piano!
Okay, I’ll admit it. I had absolutely no clue that Guitar Hero was going to blow up the way it did. NONE. I’ve seen a lot of gimmick games come and go, from the little robot that came with the NES to the powerglove, to Virtual Boy, and… well… you get the idea.
When it comes to video games, the GENERAL rule is that if you need something other than a standard controller, or maybe a steering wheel to play it at home, it’s not going to do all that well.
Then came Guitar Hero.
For the most part, all GH did was port Dance Dance Revolution gameplay on a guitar shaped controller, but boy howdy did it hit, and hit it big spawning numerous sequels, the more integrated “Rock Band”, as well as a miniature army of internet clones.
I suppose this makes sense. The basic formula is, for all intents and purposes, perfect casual gaming fodder. It’s simple enough to understand; learnable in less than a few minutes. Further, since each game is only as long as a song, you get that sweet coffee break window of gameplay. And yet at the same time, there’s always room for improvement, and these kinds of games just lend themselves to hours of wasted time playing.
Unfortunately for me, the many clones out there on the internets have almost unanimously disappointed me. Until now.
Feel The Beat offers a slightly different premise than most clones which seek to imitate either a guitar or a dance pad with your keyboard-it asks you to emulate playing the piano. This may seem like a small detail, but it works because it’s just not easy to imagine playing a guitar on a keyboard (unless you play lap guitar, but if you play lap guitar, you’re probably not sitting there playing internet games on flash).
Yes, a small difference can mean the world, and Feel the Beat is full of subtle differences that makes it shine as a Guitar Hero style game. The simple graphics and interface for one are in their rudimentary stylings beautiful without trying to be in your face. It’s visually nice enough to give your eyes something to watch without being an annoyance or worse, without distracting you from gameplay completely.
Meanwhile, there is an impressive amount of customizing you get to do as the player. You will have the option of turning off and on an array of special effects, which is great, but what really works are the three difficulty levels coupled with an ability to greatly adjust the speed of the music.
This allows you to essentially create your own learning curve. Are you simply terrible? No problem, put the difficulty at easy and turn the speed all the way down. Playing Fightin’ Freddy on the hard difficulty still isn’t giving you a challenge? Crank the speed up to max and see how hard it is.
The biggest problem with FTB is that there are only four songs available. Don’t get me wrong, they are quite wonderful songs, kicking things off with a beautiful piano piece and kicking things up a few hundred notches with some high energy techno for the rest of the selections.
But while these four songs have been enough to tide me over for a little bit, you simply can’t be a big enough fan to enjoy them for long.
I personally want to see a sequel of this game released with a library of like fifteen songs–and I would be very happy if those songs were all indie productions, but some more recognizable ditties couldn’t hurt either.
But until that glorious day comes, we still have this original and that’s hardly anything to complain about.