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Rock Band 4 photo
Rock Band 4

Tell Harmonix to put the entirety of '...Like Clockwork' in Rock Band 4


Really, just urge them to include the QOTSA discography
Mar 06
// Brittany Vincent
Looking forward to Rock Band 4 just as much as I am? You're probably wondering how the upcoming roster is going to look. Me too. In fact, I'm pretty concerned. I dropped a pretty penny on hundreds of songs, with 70% of them i...

Rock Band 4 is coming, and it's bringing the party back

Mar 05 // Brett Makedonski
While it's important to look forward, fans also can't help but look back. After all, there are some pretty hefty investments there -- both with regard to instrument peripherals and downloadable tracks. Harmonix acknowledges this and is doing its best to make sure that there's continuity across the Rock Band brand, even if it has jumped to new consoles. With regard to instruments, Sussman says that the team's doing its best to ensure that legacy peripherals will be compatible with Rock Band 4. He couldn't definitively say that it'd happen, but Harmonix is working with Sony and Microsoft to try to work something out. Sussman said that he was confident in the chances those conversations would yield positive results. The other big concern, previously purchased downloadable songs, has an even better outlook. Harmonix is tackling the engineering issue, something that Sony and Microsoft are fully supporting. The only problem is that it'll require a lot of man-hours to essentially recreate every song in the library. It's going to eventually happen, but Harmonix can't say how long it'll take to get there. But, players definitely aren't going to be required to buy tracks a second time or anything in that vein. Of course, alongside Rock Band 4's release will be a set of brand new instruments manufactured by Mad Catz. However, that's not the extent of its involvement. Mad Catz is cooperatively publishing the game with Harmonix. This'll likely mark the largest software publishing deal in Mad Catz's history. [embed]288538:57603:0[/embed] Despite Mad Catz's involvement, Rock Band 4 won't release with a flurry of optional equipment like Rock Band 3 did. Because Harmonix is putting focus on the social aspect, it's mostly doing away with Pro mode. Drums will still be supported because the base instrument is all that's needed. Gone are Pro Guitar and Pro Bass. Also nixed are all forms of keyboard. Sussman said that through data collection, Harmonix saw that keys were played a very small percentage of the time relative to other instruments. Although this is the first time in a half-decade that Rock Band's making a return, there's also the well-founded rumor that Guitar Hero will throw its hat back into the ring this year. When asked if the studio was at all disappointed that it'd face immediate competition, Sussman seemed upbeat about Rock Band 4's chances against Activision's property. "We're focused on things we can control. However, I think our pedigree speaks for itself," he said. He's right; Harmonix has a history that's rooted in quality. However, maybe none of that really matters if the general audience just isn't ready to go back to Rock Band. When we pressed Sussman about the idea that most people from his audience seven years ago are likely in very different places in life now, he was unflinching. "While I realize that people move on, a love for music is all that's needed for Rock Band to be appealing to you. That's something that no one grows out of," he commented. Again, Sussman's right. Even if Harmonix stayed mum on a lot about Rock Band 4, it tipped its hand on what might be the most important facet: the game's tone. Rock Band 4 is all about the unique social experience that comes from playing music together. It wants to be a party, a constant source of good times. Basically, Harmonix is doing everything it can to make sure you want to get the band back together.
Rock Band 4 photo
Releasing in 2015, coming to PS4 and Xbox One
Five years after the latest installment in the seminal music/rhythm franchise, Harmonix is going on a proverbial reunion tour. Rock Band 4 is in development for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, and it's currently scheduled fo...

Theatrhythm Dragon Quest photo
Theatrhythm Dragon Quest

Theatrhythm Dragon Quest is getting a demo


Next week on 3DS in Japan
Mar 04
// Chris Carter
Theatrhythm Dragon Quest is coming to Japan, and I couldn't be more excited as a Theatrhythm fan. While there is no announcement of a localization yet for the west, Japan is getting it on March 26, in addition to a newly...
Amplitude photo
Amplitude

I fear for my fingers after seeing Amplitude in action


Playable at PAX East booth #4224
Mar 02
// Jordan Devore
Harmonix is reviving Amplitude this summer and, if recent rumors hold up, Activison might bring back Guitar Hero. The lows of the rhythm genre are real low, but I'm ready for that high again. Going into this weekend's PAX Ea...
BlazBlue photo
BlazBlue

There's a new BlazBlue rhythm game and it's out now


Brace yourselves, anti-mobile and free-to-play comments are coming
Feb 25
// Kyle MacGregor
"This isn't the BlazBlue game you're looking for," he persuades you with a small wave of the hand. Okay, maybe it is. Maybe you're in the market for a "gluttonous" rhythm game where you "eat to the beat of BlazBlue." In that ...
Guitar Hero photo
Guitar Hero

Reunion tour: New Guitar Hero reportedly in development


'More realistic'
Feb 24
// Brett Makedonski
Don't adjust your (hot tub) time machine. You haven't traveled back to 2010; it just feels like it. According to a report from Kotaku UK, Activision has a new Guitar Hero title in the works. It's said to be announced at ...
Rise trailer photo
Rise trailer

Rise is dancing all night in Persona 4's Vita rhythm game


Would you like to Dancing All Night with Rise?
Feb 24
// Steven Hansen
We are four months away from Persona 4: Dancing All Night's Japan release (and special edition Vita) and we've already seen and heard the lovely intro, so now what? Well, character trailers can be fun. Little tastes of the b...
Hatsune Miku: PM2 photo
Hatsune Miku: PM2

Beard View: Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai 2


I know too much about Hatsune Miku and I don't even know that much
Feb 20
// Jed Whitaker
Oh hello Destructoid! Its your old beard buddy Jed here, and I guess I'm officially part of the Dtoid team now. Are you proud yet dad!? This time on Beard View we're taking a look at Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai 2, the Vocalo...
THUMPER photo
THUMPER

If this is what a 'rhythm violence' game looks like, I'm all about them


Nominated for Excellence in Audio at the Independent Games Festival
Feb 18
// Jordan Devore
While watching this trailer for THUMPER, a self-described rhythm violence game from current Harmonix artist Brian Gibson and former lead programmer Marc Flury, I didn't want to blink. I also let out a confused "what?" follow...
Marvelous photo
Marvelous

Senran Kagura creator's IA/VT Colorful drops in June


Marvelous rhythm game available to import from June 25
Feb 16
// Kyle MacGregor
Vocaloid rhythm game IA/VT Colorful has a new Japanese release date, Famitsu reveals. The new project from Senran Kagura creator Kenichiro Takaki is now set to debut June 25 on PlayStation Vita. Marvelous initially planned to...
Rock Band DLC photo
Rock Band DLC

Harmonix releasing more Rock Band DLC, a couple of 'we're back' songs


Hinting at something bigger?
Feb 16
// Brett Makedonski
In mid-January, Harmonix surprised everyone by breaking its radio silence on Rock Band with the first set of downloadable songs in almost two years. While it's not quite the return to weekly DLC, Harmonix looks to be ba...
Alphabeats photo
Alphabeats

Teddy Diefenbach's Alphabeats is up on Steam Greenlight


Slurp up the Alphabeats soup
Feb 13
// Darren Nakamura
Last year when Alphabeats was originally announced, I lamented that it was only on iOS, with no word of an Android release. Though it might not have ever released for the superior mobile operating system, it looks like the r...
Import it! photo
Import it!

Persona 4: Dancing All Night gets custom Vita in Japan


Also June release date
Feb 05
// Steven Hansen
Atlus has confirmed a June 25 release date for the Vita's Persona 4: Dancing All Night in Japan.  Alongside this is news of a couple special editions. The "crazy value pack" includes an illustration, two-...
New characters photo
New characters

Persona 4: Dancing All Night theme eases the wait for Persona 5 news


Listen to it here
Feb 04
// Steven Hansen
Okay, no big Persona 5 reveal yet. I am still completely, sincerely excited for the Persona 4 rhythm game and this amazing track, which we covered earlier today, is why. It's also worth listening to Japanese Teddy ...
ATLUS photo
If you never give up life keeps on groovin'
Atlus has revealed Persona 4: Dancing All Night's main theme, "Dance!," complete with lyrics and everything. Personally, I think that spoils some of the fun. Deciphering the words behind Shoji Meguro's tunes has become ...

Curtain Call photo
Curtain Call

Theatrhythm: Curtain Call gets equipped with World Ends With You and Chrono Trigger DLC


Not yet announced for the West
Jan 21
// Chris Carter
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call was a joy to play. It was absolutely packed with content, so the fact that DLC has been steadily dropping since launch hasn't bothered me -- all in all, it's one of the biggest rhythm ...
Omega: the First Movement photo
Omega: the First Movement

Give some robots a rhythm beatdown in Omega: the First Movement


Wield a mighty axe
Jan 20
// Darren Nakamura
It has been a while since I have played a mobile game that I have really gotten into. Could Omega: the First Movement be the one to end my dry spell? Maybe! Its protagonist looks like a neon cyberpunk version of the kid from...
Amplitude photo
Amplitude

Amplitude delayed from March until 'summer'


It's only on PS3 and PS4
Jan 19
// Chris Carter
I hope you weren't too excited for a March release date for the upcoming Amplitude reboot, as Harmonix has announced that it has been delayed until "summer" for quality concerns. The developer says that they don't want to cut...
Rock Band photo
Rock Band

Harmonix survey asks what you would want from a new Rock Band experience


Just more Rock Band, to be honest
Jan 16
// Brett Makedonski
The Rock Band franchise has shown promising signs of revitalization lately. Earlier this week, there was the surprise announcement of a trio of fresh downloadable tracks. Now, Harmonix has posted a survey throwing all so...
MIKU photo
MIKU

Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX dances to 3DS in May


ワールドイズマイン
Jan 14
// Kyle MacGregor
Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX is coming to Nintendo 3DS in late May, Sega announced today. The cutesy rhythm game styles Hatsune Miku and friends after the Good Smile Company's trendy Nendoroid figures, which explains why th...
Rhythm Heaven 3DS photo
Rhythm Heaven 3DS

Hell yes, hell yes, Rhythm Heaven 3DS


Coming to Japan in 2015 with a mix of new and old minigames
Jan 14
// Steven Hansen
During Japan's Nintendo Direct, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata announced there would be a new Rhythm Heaven game for 3DS this year. It will feature over a hundred minigames, 70 of which comes from past entries in the series, 30 of which are new. It's coming to Japan this summer. Hopefully we get word of a North American release.  Hopefully this makes it in:
Rock Band DLC photo
Rock Band DLC

Harmonix surprises everyone with an imminent trio of Rock Band DLC songs


Foo Fighters, Avenged Sevenfold, and Arctic Monkeys
Jan 12
// Brett Makedonski
Remember the days of yesteryear when a bevy of plastic instruments was a de facto part of your interior design? Well, if you so wish, that look could make a comeback, as Harmonix is adding to the Rock Band library f...
Curtain Call photo
Curtain Call

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call gets Xenogears DLC


99 cents per song still
Jan 09
// Chris Carter
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call had a ton of content packed into it -- perhaps more than any other recent rhythm game, so I'm not bothered by all the DLC it's getting. This is especially the case because "Soaring" fro...
Theatrhythm Dragon Quest photo
Theatrhythm Dragon Quest

Theatrhythm Dragon Quest looks, sounds AMAZING!


Good lord, this better get localized
Dec 19
// Kyle MacGregor
This is the first trailer for Theatrhythm Dragon Quest. Marvel at its majestic beauty. It's a JRPG-shaped swizzle stick here to stir up your emotions. You feel that? Yeah, that's a double shot of nostalgia clinking up against your heart like rocks in a glass. Or something. Feels good, baby.
Theatrhythm Dragon Quest photo
Theatrhythm Dragon Quest

Square Enix announces Theatrhythm Dragon Quest


Coming to 3DS in Japan early next year
Dec 10
// Kyle MacGregor
Theatrhythm isn't just a Final Fantasy spin-off anymore; it's an established brand, one Square Enix hopes to expand into a full series of rhythm games based on its classic properties.  Theatrhythm Dragon Quest is the nex...

Harmonix returns to classic rhythm-action with Amplitude

Dec 05 // Alessandro Fillari
Amplitude (PS4 [Previewed], PS3)Developer: Harmonix Publisher: SCEARelease Date: Q2 2015 "This opportunity is to make the game we always wanted to," said product manager Annette Gonzalez while discussing the development of the game. As a reboot of the original, Amplitude features both an expanded track list and gameplay system. Even after the success of the games that followed, the developers wanted to have a shot at creating another title in the vein of Frequency and Amplitude. "People really, really liked those games, they have fond memories of them, I have fond memories of them -- I played FreQuency and Amplitude a lot back in college -- but apparently they didn't really sell very well," said communications lead and former Destructoid editor-in-chief Nick Chester. "People loved it, it reviewed very well, but nobody bought them, so therefore we didn't make another Amplitude game and moved on to Karaoke Revolution, Guitar Hero games with Konami and Activision." With the rise of game development via Kickstarter, Harmonix figured it was the perfect time to get the next game going. With its crowdfunding campaign, the studio wanted to gauge the current interest for the return of its earliest titles. "Kickstarter was a great opportunity for us to say, 'well, you wanted another Amplitude game, right? We have permission from Sony to actually go ahead and do it, but do you really want this game, prove it.' If they were really interested in it, then it would get funded, and it did," said Chester. For the uninitiated, Amplitude tasks players to ride the musical tracks as they match up each beat and verse with the corresponding buttons. With each track spread across multiple lanes, you'll have to actively switch between them to maintain your multiplier. If you miss too many verses and beats, your ship will cease function and end the track. With each timed beat, you rack up points and build your multiplier to activate special abilities, such as slow-mo, which slows down track speed, turning snazzy electro into a soothing and calm ambient pieces. By far, the most apparent aspect of the game was how challenging it was. My first crack at the game was on medium setting, and I barely made it halfway before losing. Perhaps it was because I had a hard time grasping the rhythm, but I initially felt a bit overwhelmed by the pace. Thankfully, playing a few tracks got me in the swing of things. Though I certainly still had my work cut out for me, considering how easy the folks from Harmonix made it look during the more intense tracks. As with all of Harmonix's titles, music is the core element of the experience. Featuring over 20 tracks, including licensed music from artists such as Anamanaguchi, Freezepop, and Kasson Krooker, Amplitude definitely seeks to reaffirm the studio's approach to music games. Moreover, Harmonix has also has incorporated original compositions that not only evoke the same hyperkinetic style of the original, but also manages to tell a consistent story with each passing track. "They [original songs] have this dark and electro vibe to them to tell you enough about the narrative," said Nick Chester. "All the tracks in this build were written in-house by the folks at Harmonix, all of the core story for the game was written by us, and outside of that you can unlock other songs from other artists." While much of the attention will be focused on the music, the visuals also do a lot to bring players into the experience. Amplitude's visual aesthetic feels like a mix between the bombastic and otherworldly Rez, with the vaguely familiar look of the digital world from Tron. Moreover, the visuals become more pronounced and striking as the track reaches crescendo, taking players on a trek through light and sound. Not content with offering the same experience with new visuals and sounds, Harmonix wants to implement features into Amplitude that take advantage of modern gameplay. In addition to online leaderboards for tracks, players can also engage in multiplayer matches against others locally. During our demo, we tried out the four-player battle mode, which pitted players against each other on the same track. As you can imagine, things got pretty hectic as every had to find an empty lane to score points. After each verse, the lane would collapse, forcing everyone scramble for the next lane to maintain the multiplier. I came away pretty pleased with what I played. Harmonix has certainly refined its craft for music games, and even though the title is only 60-70% complete, it is on track as a product that will reassure fans of the original and those looking for a unique and challenging take on rhythm action. Amplitude is one title you'll want to keep an eye out for next year.
Amplitude preview photo
3-2-1, Let's Jam
Before the folks at Harmonix Studios put themselves on the map with Guitar Hero and Rock Band, it was known for the cult hits Frequency and Amplitude. Blending fast-paced rhythm-based action with mesmerizing visuals and ...

Inside My Radio is a rad rhythm-platformer

Nov 16 // Steven Hansen
But boomboxes are a big, dead cultural artifact. Inside My Radio, one of the coolest projects I checked out at Game Connection Europe, puts you in the role of a lively LED inside of a dying boombox. Your goal is to bring back the funk (or, actually, the electro, dub, and disco).  Inside My Radio is structured similarly to underrated rhythm-platformer Sound Shapes, with a number of stages making up the track list in an album. Within the musical genres of electro, dub, and disco, there will be subgenres and styles represented, which will wind up with their own albums, so it won't be a three-tune affair.  Unlike Sound Shapes, though, the music here isn't just tonal, visual set-dressing. Here, your main movements--jump, dash, slam--have to be synchronized with the backing beat, or nothing registers. A bit closer to Crypt of the Necrodancer, perhaps, but with a more consistent rhythm rather than a tile based affair. Should you slip up and lose the beat, prompting a complete meltdown, as is often the case in rhythm games, a button press brings up a metronome-like visual indicator around the LED chap that you can follow to get back on track.  Aside from rhythm-based precision platforming, there are a few puzzle sort of things to deal with, as well as the ability to slightly alter the style of track within the level you're playing, depending on which bit you prefer. The dubworld even has a giant mixing board you can manually adjust for the sound you want.  The music I've heard is good, the visual style is lovely in its colorful lighting and sharp angles (the cutscenes, too, which look a little different). I'm excited to check out more Inside My Radio, headphones on, soon. PC and "consoles" are currently confirmed, though it may be a tip that the studio's last, very different game came to PS3 and Vita alongside PC. 
Inside My Radio photo
Get in my radio (an Austin Powers joke)
There are things to consider when it comes to playing music in public. Are you in an open space, perhaps a park, with enough distance between you and others so that your tunes don't dance on over into unwilling ears? Are you...

Review: Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd

Nov 13 // Brittany Vincent
Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd (PlayStation 3 [reviewed], PS Vita)Developer: Sega, Crypton Future MediaPublisher: SegaReleased: November 18, 2014MSRP: $49.99 The Rhythm Game mode is the main attraction, offering over 40 different songs featuring Hatsune Miku, Len and Rin Kagamine, Luka Megurine, and other Vocaloids. They're a chorus of different voices brought to life via the popular singing voice synthesis software, and each has its own unique timbre and quirks. There's a healthy mix of songs presented in this collection, with many returning from previous entries in the Project DIVA series, some with brand new accompanying music videos, and brand new tracks exclusive to Project DIVA F 2nd. For instance, songs like "Melt" and "The World is Mine" were originally seen in the original Project DIVA title released for the PlayStation Portable back in 2009. Songs like "Pinky Promise" and "Doubleganger" are new to the series, giving even veterans plenty of reasons to return. [embed]283791:56320:0[/embed] Players will find several genres and song types to explore as well, from sugary sweet pop to sweeping techno tracks that should please any Vocaloid fan. But, as many Vocaloid faithful can attest to, Miku's voice is a bit of an acquired taste. She'll either grate on your nerves or open up an entirely new world of aural delights to you, and that will make or break your enjoyment of Project DIVA F 2nd. Of course, the music is only half the fun, so even if you aren't as enamored with the tracks as you could be, there's still the excellent framework of the rhythm game left to win you over, which is a unique tonal shift from other similar games on the market. Sure, you're still tasked with pressing buttons on your controller that correspond to the symbols on-screen, but they don't simply appear in a neat and orderly fashion. They pop up in random places about the screen as notes fly in from off-screen as well. Not only do you need to concern yourself with keeping up with the rhythm, but as the accompanying video behind the notes and Miku's dancing plays on, you've got to stay focused to succeed. Some icons require you to simply press face buttons, while others necessitate both a face button and the directional arrow that corresponds to the face button. For instance, with the triangle button you'd also need to press up on the D-pad to hit the note. Others still require flicks of the analog stick, with special notes prompting flicks of both analog sticks on the PS3 controller at once. It can be a lot to take in at once if you're unfamiliar with rhythm games, and even if you're a hardcore devotee to the genre like myself, you might find that the game can be quite punishing at times, even on "Normal" difficulty, which I would caution new players against starting at. Once you work your way up to "Extreme," there's a true feeling of accomplishment in being able to look back on how far you've come, because this game can and will push you. You've got to hit a whopping 80% of the notes in order to clear a track successfully, so you've got to play as though every note matters, because if you want to see everything the game has to offer, it does. That's what makes Project DIVA F 2nd such a robust and inspiring rhythm game. Beyond the glitter and the sugary sweet characters, there's a depth to it that's sorely missing in most music-oriented titles these days. It's exciting to open up new tracks and earn new accessories for a job well done. There's a constant deluge of unlockables to hoard, like new outfits and accessories to dress Miku and company just as you see fit.  If the Rhythm Game mode doesn't keep your attention long enough, you can always head over to Edit Mode to create and edit your own custom music videos using the Vocaloid tunes and an expansive set of tools to create your very own productions. If you're not feeling particularly creative, you can keep up with your Diva Room, which allows you to customize your stable of digital pop stars, whether you change their outfits, the room furnishings, or accessories. You can purchase additional items for the room, but you can also interact with the Vocaloid team there as well. But as previously stated, it's all about the music. You'll quickly find yourself losing hours at a time running through the tracklist, bettering yourself and obtaining new collectible items. It's even worth the slightly longer load times to take in a menagerie of colorful (and sometimes bizarre) fan art of Miku and the gang. There's also more content to come, with Sega making the very same DLC tracks released for the Japanese version available to Western buyers as well. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd is a full-featured, intuitive, and challenging pop star simulator dressed up as a rhythm game. Whether you love Miku and the rest of the virtual virtuosos there's something to enjoy here, even if it's just to prove that you know your way around a rhythm game. It's a worthy follow-up to last year's release and with translated English subtitles for each song, planned DLC, and a delightful mix of music, it's a surefire hit. Just don't get too disappointed when you remember Miku isn't actually a real person.
Review: Hatsune Miku photo
I'll Miku-Miku You♪ (For Reals)
Hatsune Miku is an international sensation. Despite the fact that she's a simple digital creation, she's managed to rack up a massive amount of record sales and sold-out concerts, including a tour with Lady Gaga and even an a...

Review: Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit!

Nov 12 // Brittany Vincent
Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit! (PS Vita)Developer: MeteorisePublisher: XSEED GamesReleased: November 11, 2014MSRP: $14.99 Bon Appétit! gathers the entire Senran Kagura cast for a cooking competition set up to offer the winner a scroll that can grant a solitary wish. With such an astonishing prize on the line, word travels quickly to all the sprightly young ninja as they enter the cook-off to nab the scroll for themselves. Of course, it's all a front, a scheme from a geezer who wants to see the girls traipsing around in sexy aprons, but you can't fault an old man for trying. The girls give it their all and set out to humiliate one another in the name of making their dreams come true, and that's where you come in. Once you've started the game proper, Story Mode is where you'll want to head first to unlock special outfits, accessories, and extra content. You can choose from a healthy amount of the Senran Kagura girls, like Asuka, Ikaruga, Hibari, Hikage, and the rest of the gang. Each girl is saddled with her own brief snippet of visual novel-styled narrative as to why she's pursuing the special scroll. Most are hilariously awful, littered with double and triple entendres that revolve around the male anatomy or breasts. Asuka is one of the worst perpetrators, but I was consistently astounded by the localization team's unmatched efforts to go the extra mile and ensure line after line was simultaneously corny and sexually charged. [embed]283649:56308:0[/embed] It's fairly impressive, to be honest, and despite how absolutely inane it can be, refreshing to see a game nearly devoid of male characters take casual racy speech and toss it out so carelessly. It may be considered fanservice "for men," but it certainly isn't the men the girls are not-so-subtly flirting with in-game, and that's something I can get behind. If I were a lesser person, that could have been a dirty remark, but I'll refrain for the purposes of this review. After you've chosen a girl you'll partake in a multi-stage cooking competition, which locks your girl in fierce combat with varying opponents. Like a racier Iron Chef, dishes are established at the beginning of the match for both parties to create, with both girls assigned a station and their own cooking tools and materials. Except you don't ever actually do any cooking. Instead, you whip up the tasty meals assigned to you by way of pressing buttons in time to the beat -- this is a rhythm game, after all. Near the bottom of the screen are two tiers where symbols corresponding to the Vita's face buttons appear. It's your job to hit them as the music plays, a la Bust A Groove or PaRappa the Rapper. Sometimes you'll need to tap the note until the number above it reaches zero. You'll have to hold notes occasionally as well, while tending to button presses above or below it. The directional buttons come into play as well, so you'll have to think fast when two are on-screen at the same time. It's quite challenging on the highest difficulty setting, especially when it comes to songs with a higher BPM, though you're never given the option to select a song for each stage. There are three breaks in each song where the judge (the lecherous Grandpa himself) takes a moment to sample the dishes you've crafted thus far, and if you've managed to keep your ninja's meter full (as opposed to your opponent's color filling the bar) you'll come out on top. If by the end of the match you've created the superior dish each time, you'll emerge victorious. At the end of each judging round, the player on the losing end of the battle will have her clothes ripped in strategic places a bit more each time until she's left totally naked but for chibi anime faces to cover up the naughty bits -- because we're not adults here or anything and a little bit of nipple is far more scandalous than making penis joke after penis joke -- but I digress. At the end of each song the victor is subjected to a "humiliating" pose in which they're drizzled with chocolate syrup or various dessert toppings as they pose sensually. And then it's gone, done, onto the next one, because if you want to see the rest of the characters, you've got to get to work unlocking them through Story Mode. Otherwise, you could choose Arcade or Free Play for the thrill of the rhythm game without the unlockables. Unfortunately, the game's biggest pitfall comes in the form of the songs themselves. They're not exactly what I'd call memorable, with tunes channeling wedding marches, bizarre Christmas-like holiday doppelgangers, and a cavalcade of instrumental (and occasionally vocal) songs that are instantly forgettable. While you're locked in a heated cooking battle, it's easy to forgive this fact, but the most basic building block of a rhythm game is its songs. These songs simply aren't strong enough to act as the backbone of a title that revolves solely around them. There are a couple with vocals that will at the very least stand out, but for the most part they feel like accompanying background tracks in any run-of-the-mill JRPG. Luckily, they're just rollicking enough to provide a challenge and I suppose that's all that's really warranted here, though some cutesy pop songs could have spiced things up considerably. Still, this is a surprisingly meaty title that'll have you coming back again and again to best one difficulty level after another, even if it's just to collect special accessories with which you can outfit your girls. They're hilariously pandering (I chose a military outfit paired with a pacifier and cat ears) but they do alter the way your girl appears in each scene, even when she's hard at work cooking. It also seems that band-aids are the lingerie of choice for most of the girls. Who knew? I was hoping for some hardcore BDSM gear to really round things out, but the best I could find was a collar. The outfits paired with dialogue snippets make for some side-splitting screenshots, but if you take them be forewarned that the Senran Kagura: Bon Appétit! logo will be superimposed at the bottom right of each one for some unknown reason. Everything in this strange little rhythm game comes together in some weird way, from the girls posing as desserts to the fact that this is a musical cooking competition. It's a fluffy bit of cotton candy that works well with the core cast of characters, and Senran Kagura devotees as well as rhythm game fans alike should find something to enjoy here, even if it's just the fact that nearly every character route has inappropriate banter.
Bon Appétit! Review photo
Light and delicious
Some may call Senran Kagura inherently tasteless, but the series of action-packed brawlers has depth and satisfying combat. The games have swept the handheld community mainly because of their increasingly risqué conten...

Review: The Voice: I Want You

Nov 08 // Brittany Vincent
The Voice: I Want You (Xbox 360, Wii U, PS3 [reviewed])Developer: bitComposer GamesPublisher: Activision Release:  October 21, 2014MSRP: $39.99 Perhaps a bit of background information is in order. I've played nearly every single karaoke title available to me. That spans the older generation of consoles up to the current round of systems -- everything from Microsoft's short-lived Lips series to Disney: Sing It. I also like to write and record song parodies. I don't think I'm an excellent vocalist, but I have a smattering of gold ratings in Rock Band, namely "Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before" and "Space Oddity." I've plunged the depths of musical despair with the karaoke app on Xbox 360, and I spent four hours at Duet 35 on my last trip to New York wishing I could live and die in that tiny room with phonebooks full of instrumentals music. And yet, while playing through this game, I found myself longing to return to titles that should, by all intents and purposes, be lesser games, like the Karaoke Revolution PlayStation 2 series or even Smule's mobile Sing! Karaoke app.  [embed]283579:56259:0[/embed] It's immediately apparent as soon as you begin the game proper that if you purchased the game looking to channel the vibe from the popular television show, you've been duped. There's no sign of Christina Aguilera or Blake Shelton anywhere. There's not even a Gwen Stefani or glimpse of Pharrell. It's only you, faceless silhouettes that act as "judges," and the cold of your living room.  It's not as if the game is broken, however. It's simply generic to the core, from its default WordPress template menus to its everyman and everywoman singers that accompany you during songs. You can head into quick play to choose from a meager listing of songs, check out Voice Coach mode for a slim selection of quick and dirty vocal lessons, or play a "season" that mimics the actual television show. If you've got friends over clamoring for a turn (and enough mics) you can play Party Mode with seven different players. The modes are surprisingly robust, and would be welcomed in any other game.  However, several different modes of play mean nothing if the track listing and songs themselves fall flat, which they do. Big time. Once you get started, you might notice there's something a little off about the track list, which includes upward of 20-something songs -- Alicia Keys' "Fallin'" and the venerable "What Does The Fox Say?" rounding out tracks that both please fans of new music and obfuscate others. It's the most random assortment of songs since Elite Beat Agents and its inclusion of Deep Purple's "Highway Star."  I couldn't be sure whether the goal was to appeal to those who enjoy music straight off their local pop station or if these were simply the cheapest songs that could be obtained easily. For every "September," you've got "Stay." For "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" there's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot," sung by a male artist and completely altering the landscape of the song. It's bizarre.  This was no doubt a move to keep things cheap on the studio's part, but if asked directly, Activision might respond with the fact that cover songs help channel the spirit of The Voice on NBC, where several different singers take on tunes that aren't their own. Either way, they're embarrassingly low-quality. They would be serviceable covers if this were some sort of high school musical that couldn't afford the real songs. When it comes to a game that judges you on pitch, phrasing, and how close you can get to the singer's range, timbre, and vocals, altering the original song is absolutely unacceptable. The cover artist can never match the nuances of the recording artist's performance exactly, and if you're meant to match the vocal tubes of each song to one you've heard hundreds of times over, you're already being set up to fail. It becomes less about finding your own voice and more about mimicking a lesser version of your favorite tune. It's painful.  With regard to vocal coaching, the "lessons" are simply laughable. You'll receive such sage advice as breathing between phrases, what the notes in a song are like (long and short!) and "advanced" topics like implementing vibrato. It's understandable if you've  never sung before, but the coaching mode is so rudimentary that it's unfair to even call it coaching. It's a series of text and accompanying examples to "practice" with. You'd be better off looking up videos on YouTube of proper breathing techniques and scale practice. Besides, the only feedback you'd be getting within the game is what the game can match to your vocals with the included microphone.  Playing a season is just as underwhelming, where coaches "competing" to have you on their team amounts to a few simple exclamations of "That was a solid performance!" and similar airy quotes coming from a set of "professionals" assigned to a specific music genre. They may as well all be the same person, and your only real input when it comes to having them choose you over AI-controlled opponents is, well, singing the song. Match the correct pitch at least some of the time and you'll be golden. There's no real reward for participating in a season, and the different qualifiers mean little more than the fact that you sang a song and managed to not fail. Congratulations? What's frustrating is the fact that The Voice: I Want You could very well have been a decent game. It had every opportunity to take what it was given and work with it. Even simple tweaks, such as improving the quality of the vocal covers or offering better and more nuanced coaching would have improved it tenfold. As it stands, The Voice: I Want You is a title that you may be able to spend about an hour with before reaching for something meatier in the realm of singing games. And, when you're seriously considering going back to the American Idol karaoke titles on the Xbox 360 because at least Simon, Paula, and Randy were included in the game, there's something very, very wrong happening. Pass up the The Voice on consoles and just catch it on television. Or, sing in the shower. You'll get more out of it. 
The Voice review photo
♫ I knew you were treble when you walked in ♫
Do you live for the thrill of belting out your favorite songs whenever you've got five minutes to yourself? Are you an amateur singer looking for guidance, or a professional looking for something fun to brush up your vocal te...


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