Day 30: Battle Beat

Posted: 2010/12/09 in Indie Games
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I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and no longer appear in the top 50 downloads. Today is day #30, and today’s game is “Battle Beat”.

Where has this game been all my life? This is an amazing title, that makes the best use of music controllers that I’ve yet seen in any title (retail or downloadable).

This is a strategic combat game designed for music controllers (though it also plays surprisingly well with a standard controller). Each level you assign unit types to the buttons of a guitar control, to the pads of a drumset, or to the face buttons of a regular controller. The game has a wealth of different unit types (that slowly unlock as you play through its campaign), each with different strengths and weaknesses and weapons that have varying ranges and recharge times. A beat starts playing along the bottom of the screen, and you have to select a button/pad each time a beat is played in the music. Unlike music games where you have to hit the button/pad colour that the game specifies, here you can hit any of them and that will engage the attack/special ability of that unit type.

Here’s where the strategy comes in. You must consider the ranges of your units, and how resistant to attack they are, in deciding on whether they should be on the front lines or in a support position at the rear. You must choose each beat which of your units should engage the enemy. You engage your units along the vertical, but your enemies attack along the horizontal, but you have the ability to fill in a hole in your defence by moving units (though that will create another hole somewhere else, forcing you to remain vigilant).

And then the game surprised me, giving me a level where I was using my drumset to destroy incoming meteors. The trailer also hints at other levels aside from the strictly combat oriented ones. I was already sold on the game before the addition of these elements, but the added variety moved the game from “good” to “great” for me.

The game has a charming sense of humour that didn’t rub me the wrong way, and your units bop up and down to the beat waiting for you to call on them to attack. Those of you who have grown tired of music games might just find this a reason to dig out your guitar or drum set again as you set off to save the world from alien invasion. This is 80 Microsoft Points very well spent.

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