Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Beat Hazard Ultra

Review: Beat Hazard Ultra

1:00 PM on 11.06.2011 // Ian Bonds

Say what you will about twin-stick shooters, but their popularity doesn't seem to be waning anytime soon. From arcade classics like Smash TV to more current fare such as Geometry Wars, people seem to like shooting at things is any direction, and the shmups that spawn from that desire are as popular as ever.

At least, that's what indie developer Cold Beam Games is hoping. Manned by a single programmer in his bedroom, the maker of Beat Hazard Ultra wants to give the familiar ground laid by Geometry Wars and its ilk a unique spin by way of allowing players to use their own music collection.

We're not talking mere customizable soundtracks, though. With Beat Hazard Ultra, the music also dictates how the game unfolds.

Beat Hazard Ultra (Mac, PC, PlayStation Network [reviewed])
Developer: Cold Beam Games
Publisher: Cold Beams Games
Released: October 19, 2011 (PSN), June 16, 2011 (Steam)
MSRP: $9.99 (PSN), $4.99 (Steam, after purchase of original Beat Hazard for $9.99)

Beat Hazard Ultra owes a lot to Geometry Wars. Gameplay is similar, with one analog stick for movement and the other for directional shooting, except that the geometric shapes are replaced by actual enemy ships. There's the same kind of frenetic spray of bullets and enemies on screen, only now, the chaos is controlled by the music. The game acts like a visualizer of your favorite PC music program, jumping and shining brightly as the music thumps and pulsates. Here, bullets and enemies are generated by the natural ebb and flow of the music you've chosen.

The original Beat Hazard was available on Xbox Live Indie Games for 400 MSP almost a year ago, and this title serves as an expansion on Steam and also as a brand new, standalone title on PSN. The game comes with a standard selection of indie rock and pseudo-techno tracks, all beat-heavy and bass-tastic. As the music builds, more ships are generated, and your tiny craft pumps out an amazing array of firepower. As enemies are destroyed, they often leave behind power-ups which increase your multiplier (which increase your firepower output), raise the volume of the song, and so on.

You collect monetary icons to purchase perks that grant you new weapons, lives, and more. Every time you pass a milestone in your cumulative score, you get to unlock another perk, which can then be purchased (and occasionally upgraded) from the Manage Perks screen. In addition to your stock shooter and smart bombs (mapped to the right trigger), you will unlock weapons such as the Ultra beam -- a quick, powerful blast that can decimate anything in its path -- or a shield to reflect enemy fire. The mini missiles are also formidable weapons, each mapped to one of the shoulder buttons or triggers.

All this may sound like standard fare, but what really makes Beat Hazard Ultra unique is how it is affected by your collection of tunes. Popping in a track by the Beatles is just as satisfying as a track by the Ramones, and dance-heavy garbage like Ke$ha and the Black Eyed Peas can generate a huge amount of enemies and fire power, making for frenetic and catchy gameplay.

The way the music rises and builds is taken into account -- enemies and even boss ships are generated based on how the music flows. This means that replaying the same song will generate the same ships, though the direction they fly in from might change. So if you see a giant snake boss when playing a track, chances are you'll see it again when you replay that track. You'll want a wide variety of tunes to mix up the action.

Visually, the game is decently detailed, though not necessarily spectacular. The ships vary in size and all look like some sort of of HD Galaga wannabes. However, this game is an epileptic's nightmare -- if ever a strobe warning were necessary for a game, Beat Hazard Ultra would be the one. Still, I guess it comes with the territory for a game that thrives on the rhythm of user-supplied audio.

There are four gameplay modes. There's Standard mode, where one song equals one game. Next is Survival mode, where a track list loops endlessly and you try to see how many waves of foes you can clear before falling. Boss Rush and Chill Out round out the set, the latter being a mode where you have unlimited lives and weapons to battle through an endless list of tunes (or at least as many as you have on your hard drive). Then there are selectable difficulty levels (for adding even more to the seizure-inducing visuals) as well as online multiplayer and leaderboards.

For a game made by one guy in his bedroom over the summer, Beat Hazard Ultra is an interesting treat. The controls are tight, the weapons are unique and varied, and the novelty of using your own songs gives you an endless library of levels and enemy variety. For shooter fans, it's a fun and unique entry in the catalog, perfect for quick sessions (one song length!) and marathon survival runs alike.



Beat Hazard Ultra - Reviewed by Ian Bonds
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Ian Bonds, Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Ian is Dtoid's resident review monkey. If there is a game no one else wants to review, it usually goes to Ian. As a reviewer, Ian has been writing for close to ten years for various sites, starti... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
Beat Hazard Ultra

  Mar 21

Get rhythm with this Humble Weekly Sale

Get a rock 'n' roll feelin' in your bones

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!

Fast HGH Facts

Primal Carnage: Extinction Review (PS4)

Belated Spoiler-Free SOMA Review

Friday Night Fights: The Blackest Of Fridays

Super Destructoid Community Interviews Hyper Encore ##Reload

So I Got a 3DS

Negotiations are over. Rainbow Six Siege is a no buy from me as of now.

Cheat Codes Podcast - Ep. 72: Sexy Dog

Meesa Back! (or, here, or something.) Dev Log #1

Cblogs of 11/23/2015 + Sexuality in Videogames

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
Fuck racism man, shit ain't fair. Can't stand it and I shouldn't have to. Nobody should.
Robo Panda Z avatarRobo Panda Z
Embedded pictures in Quickposts seem to be broken for me right now.
Flegma avatarFlegma
To my surprise, I've more or less figured out Rodea Wii U controls. Still a different game from the Wii version, but not as decidedly inferior in my eyes. Did the legacy medals do anything in Wii version?
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
"Am I a kid, or a squid?" I ponder as I stare off into the horizon. A wise man once told me "Son, you can be whatever you want to be. You are only limited by your lack of ambition " And I want to be a squid. A squid now.
Parismio avatarParismio
Captain America: Civil War trailer dropped!: [youtube][/youtube]
lewness avatarlewness
Gah, wanna go Alexander farming but The Old Hunters ;_;
BaronVonSnakPak avatarBaronVonSnakPak
Holy shit, Splatoon is addictive.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Duck Hunt was a trickier unlock than I expected. Jigglypuff, you are next on my list! [img][/img]
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Yay, this arrived today. Nekro is quite happy, as he's been looking forward to playing this game for a while. [IMG][/IMG]
Gamemaniac3434 avatarGamemaniac3434
Dtoid mobile has apparently broken again. This is it. This how the dtoid ends. *black hole opens, dtoid disappears*
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Gave Ronin one more chance before I chucked it in the "never to be finished" pile, glad I did. It could have been so much better but as a frustrating time waster it's not bad.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I'm sitting on the Fapcast's most recent recording. I just feel like I need a day for myself after, you know, freaking out about rent.
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Why is every Quickpost now spaced out like poems with random amounts of stanzas that never ever rhyme?
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Was anybody else here extremely disappointed by the ending of Assassin's Creed 2?
Parismio avatarParismio
Just tried Fallout 4 on my PC Via my Cousins steam account and nope, it does not run for me very well. Buying the PS4 version it is!
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
You know who never took any shit from anybody? Dr. Blight.
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
Am I the only one who has to pull up their sleeves to play competantly at videogames? When my hoodie's sleeves are down I play like a piece of shit but when i pull them up, I have more flexibility.
Shinta avatarShinta
PSA: Just picked up Falco amiibo at Best Buy. They had about 20 Tom Nook, 10 singles of Splatoon Boy/Girl, the Splatoon triple pack, about 30 Marths with a big sign saying "Look Who's Back!," Dark Pit, and probably about 15 others. Not too shabby.
Fenriff avatarFenriff
I long for the day that people get over their weird circle jerk hatred for FFXIII related things and just ignore things they don't care about.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
I'm upgrading my PC on the cheap and I'm going with AMD, out of these two CPUs, wich one is better?, A8-7650K or FX-6300?
more quickposts



Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -