Beat Da Beat sounds like it should be the kind of thing that fans of scrolling shooters and rhythm-action games should instantly enjoy. Originally launched for mobile devices but released on Steam this month, it’s a shooter that features catchy electronic music and elaborate bullet patterns, but in Beat Da Beat the action is synchronised to the music, so you might have enemies moving in time with the beat, enemies appearing onscreen at the start of a bar in the music, notes being fired out in time with the main melody, and more besides. So whereas something like Rez would base rhythm on player actions – delaying shots slightly to fit in time with predetermined melodies, for instance – Beat Da Beat has a fixed rhythm to its gameplay that is influenced by the soundtrack. The interesting side-effect of this approach is that in order to learn a stage in Beat Da Beat, you almost have to learn the song. By failing and replaying the same stage repeatedly you begin to get used to the patterns, and you know that when those four bars finish, that large enemy is going to appear onscreen and attempt to ruin your day.
Beat Da Beat but Wait Out Da Miniboss
The music in Beat Da Beat heavily leans towards electronica more than any other genre, so there are lots of melodic beeps, some pumping synthy sounds and contrasts between slow dubstep rhythms and faster beats. Considering that the aesthetic of the game is as traditional as you can get – spaceships and laser guns abound – the soundtrack suits the game really well, although if you’re not a fan of electronic music you might not warm to the tunes as easily. In order for the fusion of shooting and music to work well, stages often have timed set-pieces – for instance, you may have to defeat a miniboss during one phase of the song, or enemies may fly away if you haven’t destroyed them in the next few bars. This makes sense in a way, as the music isn’t going to wait around for you to finish destroying those enemies. That said, most of the enemies have some kind of health gauge that depletes as they take hits, and so when a miniboss arrives with no lifebar it’s not clear whether you actually have to deal damage or just survive the onslaught until the miniboss flies away and the music moves on.
Beat Da Beat and Buy Da Upgrades
With a soundtrack of mostly enjoyable music and lots of satisfying bullet patterns to navigate, Beat Da Beat is one of the better examples of this kind of game. It may seem a bit simple at times and the mouse control is unusual, but the shooting is fun and the upgrade paths mean that even if you get stuck somewhere you can keep replaying and earning ingame currency for upgrades (and the costs are always reasonable, so there is never an absurd amount of grinding.) My only slight issue with Beat Da Beat is a purely aesthetic one – most of the time ships fly onscreen and attack in time with the music, and the effect is great. However, sometimes that effect is applied in lazier ways, with bullet patterns just appearing out of nowhere for the sake of accompanying the music. You can still have fun avoiding these bullet patterns, but you just wish they were coming out of something rather than merely “existing”, and it feels a tiny bit lazy. Nevertheless, Beat Da Beat offers plenty of fun for a reasonable price, and it’s a worthy addition to anyone’s shooter collection.