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.



THE VERDICT

8.5

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 *.disqus.com 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!


Gaming's Beautiful People #3: Waifu Warfare (Bloggers Wanted)

Understanding How Street Fighter is Played

Cblogs of 2/05/16 + Digital Preservation

Music Notes: "Tied Down" by Forever Still

Desert Golfing - The Model Mobile Game

Review: Pony Island

Do you even Bebop?

Cblogs of 02/04/16 + Bayonetta and some other one I suppose

Waifu Wars: Your Cruel Device, Your Blood Like Ice..

Best Kickstarter implosion EVER as dev money is spent on booze and strippers

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Niwannabe avatarNiwannabe
All right, you guys, time for the important questions. Fuck, Marry, Kill: Tharja, Sully and Sumia?
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
The time has come for me to play Earthbound.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
As the Ultimate Waifu gazed down upon the Earth from her Celestial Throne, she sighed, for mainly shit-tier waifus were being chosen. But one fairy gazed into the stars, declaring her love, sacrificing dreams and spiders on an alter of glitter for her.
ikiryou avatarikiryou
When a new Destiny article comes out
Alphadeus avatarAlphadeus
Thanks to my girlfriend, we own a PS4 now. ID is Ikaruszino. I don't own any multiplayer games (yet) or have PS Plus (yet :p), but feel free to add me so in the future maybe we can play something.
Bardley avatarBardley
My absolute finest moment in all of Metal Gear. Also, the first time I had driven a truck.
JohnSmith123 avatarJohnSmith123
Ok. That EDF 4.1 game is really really good. You can even sing and shout "EDF!" with your soldiers! Holy crackers.
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I want to goad my wife into playing RE Revelations 2 with me but I don't know if she can deal with the whole 3D spatial movement thing, even if she plays the supporting character.
Lawman avatarLawman
Heads-up: Mega Man soundtracks are free right now at the Capcom Store. Guessing it's a glitch. All of them are digital downloads, except for Mega Man 9, which is a physical CD that requires money for shipping. Link in comments.
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
My Brawl in the Family books finally came! It took a while but Matthew (guy who made the series) has been super busy so I totally understand. =D
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
Here's what a typical dinner with me looks like: Stouffer's chicken parmesan, Lay's potato chips, and a cold can of Mountain Dew, all eaten on a cold set of tiles. That's right, ladies, THIS is what you'd be missing out on. Eat your heart out, @SayWord.
thelivinglegend avatarthelivinglegend
Not digging the difficulty of Xcom 2 so far. I always thought the first one was tough but fair, but this seems that at times it won't matter what strategy you use, you'll end up losing and having to restart. Seems more trial and error than tactical.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
How's everyone finding XCOM 2? My first campaign isn't going well, half a dozen deaths so far and a sea of hospitalised vets in the roster :(
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Just tried the SFV kiosk demo. Impressions: Charlie is weird now. Chun Li now down-to-forwards her signature kick. Ryu, Ryu never changes. How to V-Trigger? Hah, Capcom does not explain such things! Needs more Rathalos and Feylines.
Ckarasu avatarCkarasu
For anyone wondering: Digimon Cyber Sleuth is pretty good. A bit easy, so play on hard mode for challenge, but it's like playing Final Fantasy 10, but with Digimon. You can even get Black Wargreymon if you buy it this month. Clearly, the best Digimon.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I bought Bloodborne and $30 in PSN moolah to top off my Playstation shopping spree.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
I just made a thing of beauty.
Fuzunga avatarFuzunga
Nordic just saved a bunch of games from being delisted. Some pretty good ones! [url]http://www.nordicgames.at/index.php/article/galactic_ip_rescue_operation_aka_new_franchises_acquired[/url]
Atleastimhousebroken avatarAtleastimhousebroken
Weird brutal death metal song about Majora's Mask (Reminds me of Gorguts)! My life is complete! Lyrics in comments. https://profoundlorerecords.bandcamp.com/track/tales-of-the-majora-mythos-part-1
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
I SWEAR the Goddess is trolling me. I HATE having dreams where everything's finally okay with my life, only to wake up and realize it's all been a delusional lie. I'm starting to think this is a sign that maybe I should just keep sleeping forever... T^T
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

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 -