Aug 29 //
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.
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.
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... read feature
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... read
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... read
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... read
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... read
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
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... read feature
Jun 06 //
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.
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... read feature
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 ... read
May 29 //
Brittany Vincent Quest for Fame
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
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.
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
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.
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)
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.
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... read feature
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... read
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... read
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... read
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 ... read
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... read
Jim Guthrie, George & Jonathan, C418, and Kasson Crooker are the 'more'
// 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... read
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... read
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... read
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 ... read
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.... read feature
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 ... read
Harmonix, Disney Interactive, Astro Gaming and Destructoid community event
// 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... read
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.
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?
Harmonix has released this trailer for Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved, highlighting a new region of the game, The Hollow, where players will bring a forest environment to life through playing songs and interacting in the wor... read
Feb 17 //
Chroma (PC) Developer: Harmonix, Hidden Path EntertainmentPublisher: HarmonixReleases: 2014
Chroma is a free-to-play musical, arena-based first-person shooter for PC, powered by Unreal Engine and coming to Steam. Let that sink in for a moment. Harmonix says that the concept has been around for two years, but the actual game has only been in development since October. So what we saw earlier this month was early in the pre-alpha state.
Hidden Path Entertainment (Counter Strike: Global Offensive) has teamed up with Harmonix in what sounds like a pretty even split on the development of Chroma. Hidden Path holds down the fort with all of the shooter aspects of the game, while Harmonix does the rhythmic and musical side.
Each team has their own side of an arena in Chroma, and each side has its own music. Getting closer to winning causes your side's music to play louder, with the goal being to overtake your opponents in both score and song. At key moments of the song, a musical change up can occur, and the map layout can change along with it. For example, a stylistic change in music could also have sniper towers rising up from the ground to mix up the map.
Music is also deeply tied to the shooter mechanics. For most of the weapons of Chroma, you're free to fire at any time. But hitting the right beats or staying on rhythm will bring power and accuracy bonuses, and some actions can only occur on beats. For example, the assault class sub-machine gun needs to be clicked on the beat to reload. The grenade launcher can be fired at will, but it'll only detonate on the downbeat of any given measure. The engineer class is probably the most musical; it features a Rock Band-style HUD that has the player clicking the mouse buttons to line up with the song's beat markers to fire properly. The engineer's gun actually won't fire off beat.
Harmonix says that you can think of each teammate as a band member, and their weapons as their instruments. Weapon fire actually sounds like instruments, and ties in with the music nicely. It seems like a lot of thought went into how sound effects could be musical accents.
Chroma has a futuristic, space-y look that, from the maps we saw, seemed to be made up of a lot of angled platforms and other structures. It's what I'd imagine that a battle arena would look like on some futuristic alien planet. The different class types looked to match with their lack of color and angular faces. The game is almost completely monochromatic, save for the brilliant lighting and coloring coming from the weaponry. The whole thing is set to electronic music that seemed heavy on beats and light on melody.
I tried two different maps in this first hands-on session of Chroma. At first, I left my teammates to work on the objective in a point control map while I played with some of the rhythmic features of the map. Jump pads let you quickly bounce from one to the next by tapping the spacebar on the correct beat. There are different bars that require taps on whole notes, half notes, and quarter notes, with an audible prompt to let you know what you should be expecting for the next pad. Do this just right and you'll be able to very quickly navigate across the map. Using these pads, quick traversal is like its own mini-game. Once you get the hang of it, bouncing around like this is quite fun.
A timed boost replaces the typical shooter's constant running button in Chroma, so those used to quick movement may feel a big bogged down by the switch. But movement feels pretty slow in general. Mastering the jump pads helps to move faster, but you're not able to defend or fire back while bouncing between pads.
The play style is locked to the music, so much so that being on top of the beat seems to matter more than aim accuracy. For example, for the tank class, mastering clicking on the beat lets you get much more than one hit out of their rocket launcher as proper input allows the shot to angle onto another target continually. Getting the beat right also helps with the sniper class; a shot turns into a one-hit kill if it happens on the beat. The pistol also gets a strength boost with on-beat firing.
The combination of shooting and beat matching is a great idea, but having to run down an enemy, aim at it, and shoot at it on a beat is a lot to wrap your head around. I found that trying to line this all up in my head was pretty challenging. I've never been great at aiming, so I liked the idea that having skilled shooter players held back by the rhythmic requirements might level out the field a bit. But it's not clear if it really works out that way. I don't know that these skilled players would look at the situation as favorably, and those bad at keeping a beat or making a shot may feel even worse about the whole thing.
The way shooting and music comes together in play starts to make sense after awhile, but it does take a bit of experimentation to get a feel for all of these classes and their respective weapons. There's a lot to learn across the five classes, and with each being so different, the required time to scale this learning curve could hurt Chroma's accessibility. This game will need a really good tutorial.
But what if you're not that musical? It's still early, so Harmonix has room to play with the balance, but I feel like those having a hard time keeping the beat will have a hard time enjoying this game. The maps we played were full of visual indicators to give you a feel for the beat, so much so that it seemed like it would be pretty difficult to lose a song's downbeat. But, just like with aiming in a shooter, not everyone has a good sense of rhythm.
Even with my good music sense, I was having a hard time with this early build of Chroma. Other than the timed jumping and maybe the on-beat reloading, none of the musical elements seemed to click for me. The experience was rough overall, from the movement to the beat-timed firing. Even with a full hands-on session I felt like we were only seeing the beginning of a neat idea that hadn't come together yet.
With five different classes and a variety of load outs, there's plenty of room for players to get in and find a combination that fits their preferred play style. But who is Chroma for? Gamers that like rhythmical challenges could find the movement and aiming to be too much to take on at once. And shooter fans are going to have to approach this with a pretty open mind to be fine with beat-timed requirements for their shots and reloads.
As for the free-to-play aspect, details are light on monetization, but Harmonix does stress that Chroma will not be a pay-to-win type situation.
I love that Harmonix was willing to take on such an ambitious combination, but they're really going to have to focus and fine tune the experience to make it as accessible and balanced as possible. If they figure it out, Chroma could be a truly unique experience.
Interested? Sign up for the closed alpha here.
And it's free-to-play It makes sense that when word gets out that Harmonix is working on a new game, everyone is going to want to see it. This was exactly the case at an invite-only showing earlier this month, taking place during D.I.C.E. Summit 2... read feature
Kotaku (well, Superannuation) did some digging and found that there is an unannounced Harmonix Xbox One Kinect game that probably is laying in some desk drawer somewhere. Their lead level designer, Rob Stokes, ... read
Nov 29 //
BandFuse: Rock Legends (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Realta Entertainment GroupPublisher: Mastiff GamesRelease Date: November 19, 2013MSRP: $69.99 (Artist Pack: game + 1/4" to USB guitar cable), $79.99 (Band Pack: 2 guitar cables, mic, 4-port USB hub, acoustic guitar adapter - game NOT included), $179.99 (Guitar Bundle - Guitar Center Exclusive: game, guitar cable, & Fender Squire Bullet guitar)
All right, so we know that this isn't the only game out there that wants to teach you how to play guitar with a real instrument. Plenty of games have tried this approach, with only one really having any great success with it. So, what is it that BandFuse does differently?
For starters, the layout is much more user-friendly. Rather than having the note highway diagonally, or seemingly flying at you, the fretboard looks as though you're looking straight at your guitar. Simple number icons and colors on each string are used to determine which finger and which fret you use, as everything is set up in standard tablature.
The game is built with the beginner in mind. There are a series of video tutorials, led by the games "mentors," such as Slash, Bootsy Collins, Zakk Wylde, and more that walk the player through even the most basic of steps. And while some of the lessons may only seem as though they're reading the key points off a cue card (and Slash mostly seems like he's barely interested in being a teacher), these are still valuable skills for beginners like me.
For those more familiar with the guitar who want to improve their chops, the difficulty can be increased through five different levels of skill. I will admit, however, that there is a bit of a learning curve from beginner to the next, but the game caters to all skill types. The tutorial videos are the biggest help here, and can of course be revisited if you're not quite moving with the pace or need refreshers on terminology or technique.
As I said, however, there is a bit of a noticeable jump between difficulties. While the beginner mode is great for a guy like me, for an intermediate player, transitioning to one of the harder difficulties can be more taxing than anticipated, as they throw a lot more notes your way. Still, there's more than just tutorials. If you just want to play songs, there's plenty to chose from here, and plenty of ways to play them.
Shred U is where most of your lessons lie, but there's a whole career mode to play through, where you begin as an opening act all the way through headliner. You can even play this multiplayer, hooking up multiple guitars, bass, and even vocals. The vocal sections are especially of interest, as these can be done solo as well (for a whole karaoke take on the game) as well as essentially being a borrowed asset for the game. That's right, the vocal note detection and regestration of those notes is the same technique developed by Harmonix for its Rock Band games here, and Realta has licensed it for use in BandFuse. Very cool.
Beyond that, there's the Lick Lab, which allows you to dissect any song into as many parts necessary to learn how to play it. There's even a section for true virtuosos that provides a wide variety of generic backing tracks for several musical genres that allows you to play along as you see fit.
The thing that most impressed me with this title is the attention to detail as far as sound is concerned. Realta has made sure that latency and lag will not be an issue, and the accuracy and responsiveness of the game was a constant treat. There's even an adapter for the Xbox 360 version (included with the package) that connects to the back of the system allowing for sound to pass through to your TV or sound system -- or even directly to headphones -- to ensure an accurate response. This is only necessary if your set up is connected primarily via HDMI, as there tends to be latency issues with sound via that single connection.
It's impressive to see a game such as this, focused on not only teaching you how to play guitar, but also how to have fun with it. The multiplayer extensions are a blast (if you have that many guitars, or friends that can play), and the karaoke and backing track selections can really further the creativity. While the jumps in difficulty can be drastic at the higher levels, there's still plenty of ways to adapt, and BandFuse surprises at each step.
The road to rock stardom My family is very musically inclined. My father sings, and my mother sings and plays guitar. My wife's family is also musical; playing piano, guitar, drums, etc. between her, her brother, father, aunt, and so on. When I was a... read feature
The F-Zero series may be the king of the "go really fast and repeatedly run into walls until you explode" genre of games, but indie developer DROOL apparently wants to try its hand at it. The interesting bit is that DROOL is... read
Sep 04 //
A dark and shadowy forest of birch trees glittered with light effects in this demonstration, with the wave of the player's hand bringing faint light over the snowy ground. As pretty as it was to watch (running on Xbox One) and zone out to, there was a point in waving hands around in this scene. Enough built up magic from exploring allowed the unlocking of the first classical piece I've heard in Fantasia, Vivaldi's "Winter."
"Winter" has a lot of movement, so the corresponding Fantasia movements kept the player quite busy. Double hand swipes in all directions really made it look like the player was conducting this famous classical piece. I really liked how zig-zag patterns seemed to guide the fast-moving string parts of the piece. Of course, moving in perfect time with the visuals and their audio cues is the goal, but Fantasia gives some freedom for less coordinated players. That said, seeing someone do it well (Harmonix's Annette Gonzalez) really sells it. This game should come with a conductor's baton.
It's not all just moving to the music. Harmonix adds some freedom to add to these songs with sections that let you virtually play instruments, with your riffing being incorporated immediately to the piece. In this case, gems came up that the player could swipe across to make sort of a drum fill loop. It sounded a bit rough at first, but somehow it seemed to snap into the piece perfectly. Disney magic, perhaps?
Finishing "Winter" added magic into the world, which had the sun coming out. And with that sun came a white and black yeti. He was scary for all of two seconds, but then showed his true colors. This hilarious looking thing matched the pattern of the birch trees exactly, and he entertained by tip toe-ing through the trees in a sort of hide-and-seek game. Some of his movements and facial expressions are downright creepy! Players can follow this weird and charming character through the forest as they explore.
Further exploration into a snow cave uncovered another yet. This big red furball came out with a roar, but soon smiled, and was quickly surrounded by song birds. Swiping around the birds had them singing, with the yeti matching their song with pitched roars. Through these birds and players' motions, you can teach the yeti to sing, with his echoing of cues working as a simple musical sequencer. I couldn't help but grin as his scary/adorable growling oohs and aahs echoed throughout the forest.
The demo ended with a showing of a fully unlocked version of Vivaldi's "Winter," now with paths that added more musical styles to the mix. One path steered away from classical strings towards surf rock, while the other went electronic. Harmonix said that the electronic path was to touch on dubstep, but I thought it fell short a bit, sounding more chirpy than dubstep usually does. Still, it was fun to hear how the song morphed between the styles, bringing them together in an original performance.
That's the best aspect of Fantasia: Music Evolved. It really does look and feel like a musical performance that the player has control over. Between the switching song paths and the compositional elements, players can feel like they're making music with their hands.
And then there are the yetis. The cute/creepy/charming yetis.
Also, creepiest yetis ever Yetis should be scary, but they're not in the world of The Haven, a newly revealed area in Harmonix Kinect game Fantasia: Music Evolved. We got a few walkthroughs of this new area at PAX Prime this past weekend, and I'm here to tell you that even the yeti roars were cute. They...sang. read feature
Harmonix has debuted a new trailer for Fantasia: Music Evolved, the upcoming Kinect-only rhythm game for the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. You'll get a sneak peek at The Haven, a "mysterious and magical" environment that lets you p... read