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Harmonix

Review: Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved

Oct 21 // Chris Carter
Fantasia: Music Evolved (Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: HarmonixPublisher: Disney Interactive StudiosReleased: October 21, 2014MSRP: $59.99 (Xbox One) / $49.99 (Xbox 360) At first glance Fantasia looks rather confusing, but it's basically Elite Beat Agents mixed with the Kinect. During each song, specific notes will appear on the screen. The most basic note is the directional swipe, which allows you to use either hand to gesture in the direction required. Next are dots, which require a punch forward to initiate. Then you have holds that involve holding one or two arms for a specific amount of time. On paper it sounds simplistic, but sitting down (or standing up) and playing is something else entirely. The way Fantasia gives you said notes feels fluid. The aim is to make you feel like you're conducting what's on screen, and based on my experiences, it accomplishes that goal. Like any rhythm game you'll eventually start figuring out how to get the highest score, and come up with your own advanced tactics. What I quickly learned is that any "flick" motion with either of your hands will cue a swipe. So I got into the habit of using both hands at the same time, "queuing" up directions in my head as they appeared on-screen. You can also use two hands for fun even if it's a single note -- it's a flexible, intuitive system without being too forgiving. [embed]281980:56008:0[/embed] It reminds me of the first time I played Guitar Hero, and had to relearn almost everything I knew about the genre with the new guitar controller. It's like that, with your body replacing a plastic instrument. Harmonix has done right by the device. Since it's the Kinect 2.0 with vastly superior sensors, it actually works. I hardly ever had a moment where the game didn't recognize what I was doing, and it only took me a few songs to get into the rhythm of how to play. The Sorcerer Yen Sid and his apprentice Scout will guide you through the game's campaign mode, which is a journey through various themed worlds like "The Hollow," and "The Nation." These venues range from space-age structures to modern cities, and serve as a delivery system for the game's beautiful art (and the soundtrack, of course). While I wouldn't say that Music Evolved is one of the best-looking current-gen games on a technical level, the art style itself ranks among Harmonix's finest work. The story itself might not be groundbreaking, but it's worth the ride. Sadly, you'll have to play through the game's story mode to unlock a lot of the track list for free play. I'm generally not a fan of this locking method for rhythm games, as it can often lead to playing a great deal of songs you have zero interest in just to get to the "good stuff." The campaign is decent enough on its own to warrant a playthrough without locking content, and hopefully an update can change this ideology in the future. Free play also supports multiplayer, which is fun enough with two people in the mix even if it doesn't fundamentally change the mechanics. As for the track list itself, the actual Fantasia songs are easily the best part -- the "conductor" gameplay simply feels better and more rewarding with older tunes than newer ones. Tracks from Vivaldi and Franz Liszt felt like unique experiences I can't get from any other game on the market. Then the game pulls a 180 and throws "Super Bass" from Nicki Minaj on the screen, followed by "Take Care" from Drake, and I'm thrown out of the moment a bit and put into a zone that feels more like Dance Central. The good news is out of the 33 songs in the base game, there is a decent mix of artists that are older but not quite ancient and still offer up something special, like Elton John, Jimi Hendrix, and David Bowie. Fantasia's in-game soundtrack by Inon Zur is also fantastic, and a great tribute to the films. Another cool thing about the track list is that each song has multiple remixes, including metal and orchestral mixes. You can change up the theme dynamically through an in-game mechanic, which is tied to extra multipliers and thus a higher score. Still, I wish there were more classical songs on offer, and nearly all of the announced DLC so far is contemporary. I definitely understand what Harmonix seeks to gain from mixing in Justin Bieber with timeless tunes like "Night on Bald Mountain" in Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, but at times, it feels like a waste of the license. I'm just glad that the gameplay is so solid and feels so new that the sound of a less-than-desirable song is still something worth playing.
Disney Fantasia review photo
Magical, but I want a bit more old pixie dust
[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.] Fantasia holds a special place in...

A City Sleeps photo
A City Sleeps

A City Sleeps still looks enchanting, available now on Steam


A challenging bullet-hell shooter for the rhythmically inclined
Oct 17
// Rob Morrow
Harmonix's chaotic-looking but nonetheless stylish music-driven shoot-'em-up A City Sleeps is now available on Steam and there's currently a 10% discount bringing the price to $13.49. While I typically shy away from bullet-h...
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Disney Fantasia Music Evolved demo is out


Try it out!
Oct 10
// Dale North
I believe that Harmonix's Disney Fantasia Music Evolved is one of those games you'll have to experience for yourself to really get. You can read our previews and get some idea of how it made us feel, but I really think that t...

Review: Dance Central Spotlight

Oct 09 // Chris Carter
Dance Central Spotlight (Xbox 360, Xbox One [reviewed])Developer: HarmonixPublisher: HarmonixReleased: September 2, 2014MSRP: $9.99 (with 10 songs) First things first -- what is Spotlight? It's basically a delivery system for all the game's DLC, and a bite-sized offering of the original games. It is $9.99 at its base price, which nets you 10 songs. Every other song can be purchased for roughly $2 as DLC, and all of your past DLC will import into Spotlight (but you can't import the games proper). Here are the 10 tunes you get with the core game: "Counting Stars" by OneRepublic, "Diamonds" by Rihanna, "Happy" by Pharrell Williams, "I Wish" by Cher Lloyd, "Royals" by Lorde, "Show Me" by Kid Ink, "Talk Dirty" by Jason Derulo, "#thatpower" by will.i.am, "Titanium" by David Guetta, and "Wake Me Up" by Avicii. The problem right off the bat for me is that a number of these tracks aren't particularly exciting, with the exception of "Happy" -- provided that you haven't gotten sick of it yet -- and "Titanium." With a very strong core pack of songs, including a mixture of both new and old tunes, Spotlight could have been a must-buy for fans. Instead, you'll have to dig into the DLC library to get some variety, such as A-Ha's "Take on Me" and The B-52's "Love Shack." My favorite thing about Dance Central 3 was that it constantly switched between classic and modern tracks without players needing to fumble around with DLC, which isn't really represented here. [embed]282072:55913:0[/embed] Having said that, $10 isn't a bad price for a starter pack, and considering the price of past games, you can build your own library as more songs are released. Each track also sports eight routines (Beginner, Standard, Deluxe, Pro, Alternate, Cardio, Strength, Alternate Pro) in Spotlight. If you look at the core game though, Spotlight looks, feels, and controls like a full release. The Kinect movements are still accurate, you can still dance with a friend, and the routines have enough variety in them to keep you interested for at least a few sessions each. In fact, the Kinect 2.0 hardware feels even more accurate than its predecessor, which goes a long way if you're a perfectionist. I definitely can't state that strongly enough -- fans who have played past games in the series will pick up on the enhanced accuracy. One of the best parts of Spotlight is the instant practice mode concept. All you have to do is basically ask Kinect to practice in the middle of a song, and it will take you to another screen that lets you learn a part you're having trouble with. In the past you either had to practice the entire tune or skip to a certain part with multiple clicks, so having this instant mechanic is great for mastering that one part you always screw up. Gone is a lot of the charm that came with Dance Central 3's campy "crews" -- instead, you're going to see a lot less flair and just straight gameplay. That may be a good thing for a lot of people who disliked the goofiness of the series, but for me it's all part of what makes Dance Central unique. As a side note, a few features have also been cut, like H-O-R-S-E, eight-person multiplayer (it only supports two now), and Kinect photo sessions, though fitness mode is still in, with some improvements like more workout tweaks. Although most people won't really notice the enhancements, if you still play fitness mode to this day Spotlight is probably worth the upgrade. If you have an Xbox 360 and a Kinect handy, you'd be better off just picking up prior Dance Central games on the cheap and reaping the benefits of an extended library, better multiplayer, and more game modes. But for everyone else who bought an Xbox One and has a Kinect collecting dust, it's a great way to bring some life to your next party.
Dance Central review photo
A bite-sized performance
[Disclosure: Nick Chester, who is currently employed at Harmonix, previously worked at Destructoid. As always, no relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the review.] Although it's been a lot tougher to ge...

Amplitude photo
Amplitude

Amplitude isn't pretty yet, but at least it works


It's coming along, Kickstarter backers
Sep 30
// Brett Makedonski
Judging by the first gameplay video of Harmonix's reboot of Amplitude, development's coming along rather nicely but is still far from done. This prototype update for Kickstarter backers is heavy on placeholder visuals and ha...
Rock Band Network photo
Rock Band Network

Harmonix terminates support for Rock Band Network


All good things must come to an end
Sep 21
// Kyle MacGregor
Harmonix is discontinuing support for the Rock Band Network, the online service that allowed users to upload and sell downloadable tracks for the Rock Band series. The network has produced more than 2,000 songs since opening ...
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Harmonix to create a virtual reality experience for Samsung Gear VR


Visualizer for your face
Sep 05
// Dale North
Remember that new Samsung Gear VR that we told you about a few days ago? Harmonix sends word that they've signed on to create a new virtual reality experience for the device.  Harmonix Music VR is a music-listening dream...
Dance Central photo
Dance Central

Harmonix offers Dance Central Spotlight crash fix


That's the game that came out today on Xbox One
Sep 02
// Chris Carter
Dance Central Spotlight is a thing that's out today on Xbox One. It's basically a digital bite-sized version of the series that includes 10 songs as its base, with more available as DLC. For fans of the franchise, it's n...

Bullet-hell and rhythm fans will both like Harmonix's new game

Aug 29 // Brett Makedonski
The underlying brilliance behind A City Sleeps is its accessibility. Most players familiar with twin-stick shooters will feel an instant comfort controlling it. Left stick to move, right stick to shoot. Easy enough. However, complications start to arise when the game asks you to not only be skilled, but to factor in technique as well. A City Sleeps tells the tale of Poe as she enters the dreams of citizens of SanLo City in an attempt to save them from their unending nightmares. If it sounds confusing, that's because it kind of is. Harmonix's Nick Chester told us that the team hasn't quite figured out how it'll convey the story, but it'll likely be through cutscenes or text. The build that we played contained neither, so we were unable to glean any of that on our own. Moving through dream worlds as she does, Poe has control over three ghosts -- Anger, Mercy, and Master. The catch is that these spirits can only be unleashed at certain idols that appear at predetermined spots as the level progresses. Doing fine on health but have some nasty enemies on the screen? Anger will deal an area-of-effect attack that damages anything in its radius, or Master will significantly weaken anything between you and the idol. Conversely, Mercy will shoot out bursts of oft-needed health, for those in the mood to sacrifice offense for defense. [embed]280339:55479:0[/embed] It all sounds basic enough, but music is the element that ties everything together. Without it, it'd be a frantic mess. However, the musical score is dynamic, leading to sections that are slightly slower or faster depending on the action on the screen. Likewise, Poe's shot speed follows the speed of the score, as do the idols which will disburse their assigned power-ups usually on the downbeat of a measure. It culminates in an experience that is entirely predictable for the musically inclined, but still difficult enough for even seasoned bullet hell players. Getting into a groove and knowing which idol you need to be by at any point in a measure, while dashing around and doling out damage can be supremely rewarding. Any break from the rhythm will leave you scrambling to dodge projectiles, but regaining the momentum instantly puts you back in sync. Although music is so integral to A City Sleeps, Chester thinks that shoot-'em-up fans will find a real challenge here. Given some time with the game on an easier difficulty, we're inclined to agree. It's certainly no cakewalk, as we felt the heavy hand of failure more than once. Juggling ghosts, shooting at enemies, and avoiding bullets is a lot to ask of even the finest multitasker; the music's just there as a fine guide.
A City Sleeps photo
Hands-on with A City Sleeps
Music has always been at the heart of what Harmonix does. From Rock Band to Dance Central to the extremely experimental Chroma, the studio's made sure that whatever the player's doing, they'll nod their head and tap...

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Harmonix announces A City Sleeps, a musical shoot 'em up


For $13
Aug 29
// Dale North
Harmonix announces A City Sleeps, a musical twin-stick shoot 'em up a heaping helping of anime and bullets. It's like a musical Geometry Wars. Harmonix says that soundtrack synchronization drives projectiles, movement, bulle...
Harmonix photo
Harmonix

Check out Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved at PAX Prime


Dance the night away
Aug 28
// Brittany Vincent
Harmonix is headed to PAX Prime in Seattle this weekend, and bringing with them Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, as well as swag and some brand new songs that you can check out if you happen to be in attendance. The event's on...
Dance Central Spotlight photo
Dance Central Spotlight

Dance Central Spotlight shimmies to Xbox One on Sept. 2 with ten songs


Priced at $9.99
Jul 21
// Brett Makedonski
Harmonix's latest venture in exploiting how uncoordinated you are is set to take off in the fall. Just announced today, Dance Central Spotlight will release on Xbox One on September 2 at a price point of $9.99. Right off...
Rock Band photo
Rock Band

Harmonix survey suggests a possible Rock Band reunion


On either current or legacy consoles
Jul 21
// Brett Makedonski
It's been a few number of years since Harmonix last implored us to flood our living rooms with plastic instruments in the spirit of faux-rock stardom, but the music games developer is gauging interest in a return to form. Har...

Harmonix announces Dance Central Spotlight, a digital-only Xbox One exclusive

Jun 09 // Dale North
There's a new fitness mode that will give players up to 90 minutes of non-stop dancing to burn calories. A new practice mode can be called forth at any time to learn moves. There's also the ability to do a loop of routines, like a sort of playlist. So far, these are the only confirmed songs for the tracklist: “Wake Me Up” –  Avicii “Talk Dirty” –  Jason Derulo ft. 2 Chainz “Show Me” –  Kid Ink ft. Chris Brown “Counting Stars” –  OneRepublic “Happy” – Pharrell Williams  
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Kinect lives on
Dance Central Spotlight is a new Xbox One Kinect dancing title. The idea is to keep the focus on dancing and music, serving as a sort of follow-up to the hit Xbox 360 title Dance Central. The difference here is that Spotligh...

Fantasia: Music Evolved introduces partner apprentice Scout

Jun 06 // Dale North
A new hands-on (hands-off?) session had us playing a newly revealed area called The Neighborhood. The scene features urban street art, psychedelic colors, and has a bit of a comic book vibe. Harmonix said that it was inspired by artists like The Who, and by songs like Cee Lo Green's "Forget You," among others. The area starts out pretty quiet, but as you move the Muse 3D cursor around to manipulate zones, it starts to come alive, first with radio signals, and later with music that you've unlocked. A play through of "Forget You" had us layering rock guitars and keyboards with Cee Lo's original vocals from the hit song. Later, we chopped up drum loops in a composition spell, and created a keyboard solo by waving hands in another.  After this, a diversion into a subway stop of The Neighborhood had us doing a freestyle sequencing section with singing vegetables. A turnip and beet had their own vocal tracks, while a carrot dropped a beatbox track. By moving between the vegetables, the player can jam out to create their own loops, making their own track. This performance is then added back into The Neighborhood as background music. In this case, the trio was added to a train that came back around to the scene regularly. A few new tracks for Fantasia: Music Evolved were announced during our session. Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" will be a part of this stage, as will The Police's "Message in a Bottle." On the classical side, "The Nutcracker" was pulled from the original Fantasia. I tried my hand at Drake's "Take Care." Things got pretty interesting with alternate music tracks that underscored the entire song with acapella background vocals and beatbox rhythms.
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Hands-on with new Neighborhood level
Harmonix has thought a lot about how they'll welcome players to Fantasia: Music Evolved and they've decided to add a partner apprentice that will serve as a sort of game guide. Her name is Scout, a talented but impatient appr...

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Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved dated: October 21, 2014 for Xbox One and Xbox 360


New tracks revealed
Jun 06
// Dale North
Harmonix sends word that Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved finally has a solid release date: October 21, 2014, for Xbox One and Xbox 360. We have a brand new preview for you to check out this morning. For now, here are the new ...

Songs for the dearth: Classic music games to fill the hollow

May 29 // Brittany Vincent
Quest for Fame [embed]275563:54070:0[/embed] Quest for Fame was an Aerosmith-themed PC rocker that came packaged with a light blue guitar pick peripheral. You know, back when the term “peripheral” didn’t simply mean “enormous piece of plastic I’ll later toss in my closet.” Though the game suggested you tap the pick against a hard surface, I usually found that smacking my thigh produced the best results via “rhythm EKG,” the meter for measuring your progress on-screen. This meant you looked like a total moron while playing. It was quick, raw, and fairly dirty, like any BioWare sex scene. But it effectively simulated the feeling of “playing” a real guitar. And to me, that meant something. Unfortunately, through repeated use and abuse, the guitar pick eventually only responded when slammed against the computer desk in front of me. It was, however, a fresh look at a genre I’d never experienced before, and it hardly receives any of the credit it rightfully deserves as one of the first truly interactive guitar games to make you feel like a rock star. Space Channel 5 [embed]275563:54072:0[/embed] Atomic pink-haired Ulala, a particularly scintillating tentacle scene, and some embarrassingly catchy electronic pop joined together like undulating Planeteers to create Space Channel 5. By your powers combined, indeed. With every “chu!” and subsequent “HEY!”, the quirky crew liberated groovin’ presidents and helpless civilians from the clutches of the terrifying Morolians and those who dared side with them. In classic call-and-response fashion, enemies spewed out a string of nonsensical chants alongside “lyrics” that could only be described as lazy, leaving you as Ulala to repeat them back with the beat. Unless you had the memory of a goldfish, you could save the world. And I’m proud to say I -- wait, what? It wasn’t perfect, but I would have given my silver Space Michael onesie to work on Ulala’s Swingin’ Report Show. Admit it, you would have too, unless you don’t know the difference between Pudding and Padding. In that case, get off my stage. Gitaroo Man [embed]275563:54073:0[/embed] U-1 played a magical Gitaroo, or as us normal folk would call it, a guitar. And it was good. Still is. Don’t hate. Gitaroo Man, the classic drag-the-note-via-analog-stick-to-pitch-bend musical adventure had it all, even some particularly horrid English voice acting. From cutesy J-Pop to orchestral songs littered with hardcore guitar riffs, to some Day of the Dead-like tunes, it’s a cavalcade of songs meant to beat you into submission. Though genuinely nightmarish in difficulty, it’s still flyin’ to my heart after all these years. A rare find on the PlayStation 2, it saw subsequent release on the PSP for an affordable less-than-$20 steal. PaRappa the Rapper/Um Jammer Lammy [embed]275563:54074:0[/embed] I need to potty, or I’ll be real naughty. I’ll settle for talking about PaRappa the Rapper -- rappin’ dog, and Um Jammer Lammy -- wailin’ lamb (now immortalized on my right arm.) PaRappa, with all the street cred a talking dog could muster after falling in love with a sunflower and rapping about seafood cake, was pretty darn dope, y’all. Lammy adopted the same premise as PaRappa, but you wailed on a guitar rather than relying on your rapping chops to solve every single one of your problems. Rodney Alan Greenblat lent his magical touch to the games, giving them a “paper-thin” look, as well as some truly bizarre characters that to this day I can’t forget. Tupac may have gone down in history, but lines like “In the rain or in the snow / I got the funky flow / But now, I really gotta go” deserve archival for future generations. PaRappa received a lackluster sequel (minus the bit about the burgers) and Major Minor’s Majestic March ranks as one of the worst games I’ve ever had the misfortune of playing. So stick to PaRappa or Lammy’s first endeavors. And that’s the bottom line, ‘cause Chop Chop Master Onion said so. Vib Ribbon [embed]275563:54077:0[/embed] To some, this is one of the strangest music games ever made. To those same people, The Human Centipede is “scary” and the Fright Night remake induces nightmares. You know the type. With its overabundance of vector graphics and trippy music, it’s definitely an acquired taste. But one that goes down oh so good. Like eating at White Castle, without the crippling heartburn in the morning. As the vector rabbit Vibri, you traverse each level (a thin white line) riddled with obstacles. If you’re a chicken-wuss, you can use any CD to create stages for Vibri. Go ahead, use Limp Bizkit. Vibri trucks on to "Rollin’." You’ll quickly learn that Vib Ribbon also means to scare the bejeezus out of you, especially if you play along to the song “Polaroid.” Lordy, lordy. I know I spent hours with Monster Rancher back in the day trying to get different monsters from my dad’s CD collection...so if you wasted all your time spinning anything from The Pixies to ‘70s Superstar Club Hits, you’ll feel right at home here. Unfortunately, Vib Ribbon never saw a North American release, so you’ll need to get crafty to procure a copy in this day and age. Bust A Groove (Bust A Move) [embed]275563:54076:0[/embed] Following in the vein of PaRappa the Rapper, Bust A Groove boasted a varied mix of tracks ranging from trance to disco and everything in between. You input a string of arrows on the PlayStation’s d-pad followed by one of the four face buttons, all in time with the music, of course. It stars a crazy cast of characters, including a grown woman with an infantilism fetish, your token zombie character, and even capoeira-dancing aliens named (you guessed it) Capoeira. Hey, I never said it won points for originality. Each of the characters represent the mix of dance styles, so no matter who you pick you’re destined for busting some “stone-cold grooves." If you could manage to pull off Perfects for three or more turns, you’d get a Freeze. Dance perfectly, or reach a score higher than recommended for that stage? You’d get Fever Time, which showcased your character’s amazing dance moves in a solo show that almost always turned out dismally, unless you chose to play as gangsta rapper Strike. And he’s so much more street than Fiddy’ll ever be. Unfortunately, I stepped on my copy and cracked the disc. This is why I can’t have nice things.
Music games photo
Rockin' just to keep on rockin'
With a new Amplitude on the horizon and a post-Guitar Hero world having left much to be desired by way of rhythm games, we must look to the past to drink our fill from the fount of the world of music. And even before Guitar H...

Harmonix layoffs photo
Harmonix layoffs

Harmonix layoffs affect 37 staff members


Upcoming games not affected
May 29
// Dale North
Restructuring has Harmonix, the publisher behind the upcoming Kickstarted Amplitude remake, cutting 37 full-time positions. This shift also has CEO Alex Rigopulos moving into a new role as Chief Creative Officer, with Steve J...
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Harmonix: Chroma needs 'substantial retooling'


More work needed on musical shooter
May 29
// Dale North
Harmonix's musical first-person shooter, Chroma, has been shared in some early alpha testing, and it looks like the Rock Band publisher has made a decision on the feedback from these tests. It seems more work is needed before...
Harmonix Kickstarter photo
Harmonix Kickstarter

Amplitude Kickstarter crosses finish line with $844K


Congrats, Harmonix!
May 24
// Kyle MacGregor
It's over. The Kickstarter campaign for Amplitude, a revival of Harmonix Music System's 2003 PlayStation 2 game, has run its course. After achieving its $775,000 funding goal with precious little time to spare, the project co...
Amplitude photo
Amplitude

Get ready 2 rokk: Amplitude's Kickstarter successfully funded


That was a close one, rhythm game fans
May 22
// Brittany Vincent
After a tense will-they-or-won't-they run, Harmonix's Kickstarter for a revival of cult classic music game Amplitude has been funded. At the time of this post, the current amount raised by backers is $777,219, with a funding ...
Amplitude Kickstarter photo
Amplitude Kickstarter

Insomniac supports Harmonix by pledging $7,500 to Amplitude Kickstarter


But there's still a long way to go
May 20
// Brett Makedonski
With only a few days left in Harmonix's Kickstarter for a remake of Amplitude, fellow developer Insomniac Games made a sizable contribution. The $775,000 asking price is now $7,500 closer to its goal. Insomniac cites being a...
Amplitude artists photo
Amplitude artists

Amplitude Kickstarter adds Anamanaguchi, Freezepop, Danny Baranowsky, and more


Jim Guthrie, George & Jonathan, C418, and Kasson Crooker are the 'more'
May 19
// Darren Nakamura
Harmonix's Amplitude Kickstarter campaign is four days away from ending, and it is only about halfway to its $775,000 goal. Some of the trepidation that potential backers have expressed has been regarding the soundtrack. Rath...
Amplitude photo
Amplitude

Harmonix on why it needs Kickstarter to fund Amplitude


It's that or nothing, basically
May 14
// Jordan Devore
Harmonix is attempting to crowdfund a new Amplitude right now and there's been confusion as to why the studio went this route. There's a lot of confusion in general when it comes to crowdfunding, for that matter. In an attemp...
Record Run photo
Record Run

Harmonix releases free-to-play Record Run for iOS devices


Yes, Android is coming as well
May 08
// Brittany Vincent
Harmonix is hard at work getting its Amplitude Kickstarter off the ground, but there's still time for other projects to come to fruition. Harmonix and SuperVillain Studios have teamed up to release rhythm-runner Record Run f...
Amplitude Kickstarter photo
Amplitude Kickstarter

Amplitude is the best thing Harmonix has ever done


I couldn't be more excited for the Kickstarter
May 06
// Chris Carter
Back in 2003, I was introduced to what would become one of my favorite games of all time -- Amplitude for the PlayStation 2. Although I had dabbled in the prequel (Frequency), it wasn't until Amplitude dropped that ...
Amplitude is back photo
Planned for PS3 and PS4
Surely you remember PS2 beat-matching games Frequency and Amplitude. Classics, right? Harmonix told us that they've been waiting to create a new title in the series, and they're announcing a Kickstarter today to do just that....

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Ex-Harmonix dev creates a crazy dating card game


Find your messed up soul mate
Apr 17
// Dale North
Billionaire Banshee is a card game where all players pretend that they're single and looking for their soul mate. At your turn, you'll pick up one card from two different piles: Quirk and Perk. The traits on these cards make ...
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Come to our Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved event at PAX East!


Harmonix, Disney Interactive, Astro Gaming and Destructoid community event
Apr 12
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Reminder! This is happening tomorrow afternoon! As for today, come be part of the group community photo at 3PM today, and the Elephant & Castle tonight for some karaoke!  Destructoid is teaming up with Harmonix, Disn...

Making multiplayer music in Fantasia: Music Evolved

Mar 25 // Dale North
[embed]272413:53111:0[/embed] Fantasia: Music Evolved  (Xbox One, Xbox 360) Developer: HarmonixPublisher: Disney InteractiveReleases: 2014 What's great about Fantasia's cooperative mode is that players will collaborate with each other to make their own musical interpretation of a given song. Before trying it for myself, I watched two others play Dvorak's "Symphony No. 9" (heard here at the 32 minute mark) together. Don't write the song choice off as boring classical music, though. I watched and listened on as the orchestral original warped from its natural form to an 8-bit chip tune, and then into a big band arrangement, finally combining all three styles for one crazy arrangement. Chip-style drums started to underscore the orchestra, and then jazz piano worked its way in. I was fascinated with how Harmonix's arrangers brought the three styles together. I liked how the gestures lined up nicely with the musical passages, and how they seem to have players passing these passages to each other. Flicks and swings of the arms visually follow musical cues, making it look like the players are conducting some invisible orchestra. Sometimes their movements will come together to make it look as if they're collaborating on a grand gesture that would bring this orchestra together in a big way. The sweep arc gesture near the finale made it look like the two were sharing a high five. It's easy to see that a lot of thought was put into this mode's choreography. Breaks in the standard play come with Fantasia's composition spells. In these sub-challenges, players will use gestures to trigger on-screen objects to add their own touch to the song. The first one I saw had these players moving their hands to trigger drum sounds. These random hits soon became full-on drum fills, and when they were finished with their creation, these fills were magically blended into the existing score as they continued play. Several others like this are scattered through the play session. For my time with multiplayer, I skipped over classical, picking Nicki Minaj's "Super Bass" from the available tunes. The opening forward punch gestures make sense with the rhythmic nature of the song, and the motion felt good; it was almost like I was punching to define the beat. As for the heavily featured diagonal swiping motions, I wasn't executing them with as much flair as my partner. But I appreciated that Fantasia is much less restrictive than Harmonix's previous title, Dance Central. I was told that as long as your timing is good, the quality of your gestures is less important. By the end of it, I was double swiping through the air with at least some flair, and having fun doing it. I even caught myself sort of bobbing to the beat. Too bad I only scored 56 percent. I really like how open Fantasia is to players' musical tastes. Before the cooperative level begins, both players are asked to make choices to customize the song. Each player gets to gesture toward a musical style twice before beginning, and they have even more opportunities for genre morphing throughout.  I'm glad that Fantasia is more of a rhythm game than a dancing game, as this suits my personal tastes more. I've learned that it's less about your moves and more about the music. When you combine this with the ability to freely explore and morph its songs with gestures you have a musical experience that has the power to keep you coming back. And the newly revealed multiplayer mode lets you share that exploration with a friend. 
Fantasia multiplayer photo
First hands-on with multiplayer
Harmonix revealed a multiplayer mode for Fantasia: Music Evolved at GDC last week alongside some new songs and levels. I jumped in front of a Kinect sensor to try out the new mode, and it wasn't long before I was flapping my arms to the beat.  Can't you hear that boom, badoom, boom, boom, badoom, boom, bass?    


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