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"[GAMES] iOS Rhythm Trio (JukeBeat, ReflecBeat, ReRave)"

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Sat 13/09/14 at 23:09
Regular
"Tip The Scales"
Posts: 869
iOS Rhythm Triple Threat

It is hardly a secret that I am fond of rhythm games. Over my time here on Freeola I have reviewed the Dance Dance Revolution series and the PS Vita’s excellent DJ Max Technika Tune. My newest phone contract has also given me access to the iPhone 5C. This has opened up the world of iOS of rhythm games to me. So, for my latest review, I’d like to have a look at the three games that I’ve been playing recently. So without further ado:

JukeBeat
Developer: Konami
Price: Free

I’ll start off with JukeBeat. JukeBeat, known as JuBeat in Japan, is quite the intimidating game on first glance. Upon selecting a song, you are shown a grid of 16 squares in a 4 by 4 formation. Keeping track of what is going on over the entire grid is quite the daunting task and ultimately very difficult, particularly in the early stages of play.

In its basest form, JukeBeat is effectively a rhythmic equivalent of whack-a-mole. Notes appear in one (or more in the case of omnitaps – multiple presses at the same time) of the squares. Points are awarded for tapping the relevant square at the correct time with the music, as is shown by an animation that plays within the square. It’s simple in principle, but following this happening on screen is no easy task!

So, for the initial investment of, erm, free…three songs are made available: Frogger’s Song, Dense Forest Battle (from Contra) and Lethal Enforcers Medley. This provides quite a nice spread of difficulties across all three songs, providing charts ranging between 1 and 9 out of 10 for difficulty and should have enough on the lower level for new players to get the grips with how to play. The use of songs from older Konami titles is an interesting touch that might give some nostalgia appeal to older players but is unlikely to draw some of the younger players in.

Of course, rhythm games live and die by their music selection and by all accounts, three songs will not get you far in the way of replayability. As is the way nowadays, particularly in mobile gaming, revenue streams do come from microstransactions and downloadable content and JukeBeat has a particularly big collection to choose from.

New music comes in the forms of music packs. Music packs cost £2.49 and contain 4 new songs to play with 3 difficulties for each song. JukeBeat has a surprising amount of variety available in its music store, with many packs containing songs crossing over from other members of Konami’s bemani series and a fair few licenced packs. The licenced packs contain some particularly interesting examples, with retro packs containing the likes of Bananarama and Duran Duran and more modern influences such as Miley Cyrus, Jason Derulo and Lady GaGa. Certainly a lot of musical tastes have been covered with these packs, and there is likely something for everyone.

However, the packs are a little on the pricey side. Indeed, if you were to purchase all packs available from the store as of this moment of writing, it would cost upwards of £170 – not the smallest of investments! The stubbornness of the music pack model also means that for any particular song that someone might want, another 3 potentially unwanted songs have to be purchased, so it must be said that a little more flexibility in the marketplace would not have gone amiss.

Ultimately JukeBeat is not a game that particularly lends itself well to the smaller iPhone screen, particularly with the 16-square grid having to be shrunk down. The ability to lower the affected area on a particular screen press is a useful option and makes the game much more playable by reducing the number of accidental early triggers.

ReflecBeat+
Developer: Konami
Price: Free

Moving on to our second featured game. Another Konami rhythm game – ReflecBeat. A simplified way to describe ReflecBeat is rhythmic air hockey. In a versus-type game, discs travel toward your end zone which must be intercepted to the music. This is done at the line at the bottom of the screen, or in some cases at a few circles further up the screen.

The game provides two perspectives. A 2D perspective which displays the entire play area is visible when the device is played in portrait, and a 3D perspective that concentrates mainly on the player-active area of the field. I personally find the 3D perspective particularly difficult to play, with the lowered visibility and seemingly lowered responsiveness of the game making it a rather frustrating experience.

Interestingly, as it is played as a competitive game against the computer and thus the player is judged not only on their ability and timing in the game itself, but also on their performance against that of the computer. This can lead to a unique situation where a player can clear a song and lose. Conversely, the player can also fail a song and win.

In fact, a random event can occur in which the computer will be represented by a particularly competent player which will massively increase the requirement for winning whilst not effecting the level of difficulty for the song itself. The fact that this is a random event and not selectable is a rather odd choice and I feel is potentially a missed opportunity for replayability by introducing various characters to play against.

Again, the initial offering for the price of a download is a base of three songs. However, in this case, the songs are more representative of what is to be expected – Konami originals that are more towards the techno side.

ReflecBeat relies much more heavily on the sale of Konami original songs, with no licenced music present (as of writing) within the store. Similar to JukeBeat, ReflectBeat’s additional content comes in packs of 4 songs for £2.49. The store isn’t quite a comprehensive as JukeBeat, with only around 20 packs currently available to purchase, but plenty to be playing through for those who enjoy the Konami original tracks.

Whilst it’s nice that Konami haven’t restricted ReflecBeat to the iPad, and allowed iPhone users the opportunity to enjoy the game – and I like the premise of a competitive rhythm game in the style presented – it just isn’t suited to the smaller screen. The nuances in the gameplay are completely lost, movements over short distances and very close omnitaps are very prone to giving frustrating misses and it all adds up to what is effectively a claustrophobic feel to the game. Perhaps if it played slightly better in the 3D perspective I might have felt differently but the lack of responsiveness on this mode also ensures it is not a particularly viable option.

Re:Rave
Developer: Step Evolution
Price: £0.69

Moving away from the Konami dominated area of the rhythm game market and we can look at Re:Rave, the final of the trio of iOS games I’ll be looking at today.

Re:Rave is produced by a few members of the team that produced the In The Groove series, a well-received Dance Dance Revolution competitor that was eventually brought down by lawyers. It involves the pressing of dials that appear on screen in time with the music (Sorry, no arcade game analogy this time round). Re:Rave also introduces several dial types that increase complexity. There are dials that have to be held for a period of time and other that will travel around the screen and have to be followed. Combinations of these different types of notes lead to some interesting patterns and allow a lot of the charts to have a unique flavour to them, particularly when reaching the top end of the difficulties.

For the achievement hunters, Re:Rave also comes with a list of awards to aim for – with a set for each difficulty and then a few random incidental ones (play on Valentines Day, for example) that are bound to increase the replayability for some players. Some are a little questionable (purchase 10 premium songs) however they are completely optional and little targets to achieve in rhythm games are the lifeblood of getting players back in to play.

The game is definitely one that fits the old adage of “easy to learn, difficult to master”. On the basic level, it is hit the circles to the music. However, to really hit the higher scores requires a great amount of concentration and skill. Scores per hit are affected by hitting the note either late or early (to aid with this, Re:Rave also allows players to customise the synchronisation of the game for their own preferences) and is also dependent on how close to the centre the note is hit.

Re:Rave is the only game in this set of reviews that actually requires spending before being able to try it out – although at 69p it’s not too bad. Song packs are again available for Re:Rave, however the offerings are slightly different from the other two.

Songs are still bunched together in song packs, however, the number of songs and costs vary from pack to pack. This allows for a little more customisability, and a few cheaper packs can introduce a few more songs in at lower outlays. It is also worth pointing out that Re:Rave also offers a fair few free expansion packs that noticeably extend the initial offering without breaking the bank.

It must be said that Re:Rave is a very competent effort for rhythm gaming on the iPhone. Despite the big screen roots (which is the case of all three games in this review), Re:Rave plays rather well on the smaller screen counterpart. A fairly extensive list of free additions means that the 69p cost is a much better proposition than it perhaps may have been on release, and certainly can boast somewhat better value in the song expansion packs than the Konami offerings.

Conclusion

In conclusion, iOS offers very competent rhythm games and so for aficionados such as myself this is great news. However, it must be said that JukeBeat and ReflecBeat are much more tailored toward the bigger screen of the iPad. Whilst Re:Rave also is designed for the bigger screen, the iPhone shrinkage appears to have been dealt with better than the other two games as it still plays very competently. It is probably the least polished overall of the three games, as may be to be expected coming from a much smaller studio than Konami, but Re:Rave plays very well on iPhone which cannot be said entirely for JukeBeat and almost not at all for ReflecBeat. However, it is also worth noting that Re:Rave is also the only game that requires an initial outlay before giving it a go.

So overall, I would recommend that iPhone users at least check out JukeBeat, making sure to reduce the affected area of play once you have gotten the hang of it. If you are a fan of rhythm games, Re:Rave is a good choice as something to take a punt at, particularly with the number of free additional packs to add on to the initial 69p investment and is a game that I still find myself getting out on journeys into work. As for ReflecBeat – I wouldn’t bother unless you have an iPad to be able to fully appreciate the gameplay and have the responsiveness and accuracy that is required for a game of this complexity.
There have been no replies to this thread yet.
Sat 13/09/14 at 23:09
Regular
"Tip The Scales"
Posts: 869
iOS Rhythm Triple Threat

It is hardly a secret that I am fond of rhythm games. Over my time here on Freeola I have reviewed the Dance Dance Revolution series and the PS Vita’s excellent DJ Max Technika Tune. My newest phone contract has also given me access to the iPhone 5C. This has opened up the world of iOS of rhythm games to me. So, for my latest review, I’d like to have a look at the three games that I’ve been playing recently. So without further ado:

JukeBeat
Developer: Konami
Price: Free

I’ll start off with JukeBeat. JukeBeat, known as JuBeat in Japan, is quite the intimidating game on first glance. Upon selecting a song, you are shown a grid of 16 squares in a 4 by 4 formation. Keeping track of what is going on over the entire grid is quite the daunting task and ultimately very difficult, particularly in the early stages of play.

In its basest form, JukeBeat is effectively a rhythmic equivalent of whack-a-mole. Notes appear in one (or more in the case of omnitaps – multiple presses at the same time) of the squares. Points are awarded for tapping the relevant square at the correct time with the music, as is shown by an animation that plays within the square. It’s simple in principle, but following this happening on screen is no easy task!

So, for the initial investment of, erm, free…three songs are made available: Frogger’s Song, Dense Forest Battle (from Contra) and Lethal Enforcers Medley. This provides quite a nice spread of difficulties across all three songs, providing charts ranging between 1 and 9 out of 10 for difficulty and should have enough on the lower level for new players to get the grips with how to play. The use of songs from older Konami titles is an interesting touch that might give some nostalgia appeal to older players but is unlikely to draw some of the younger players in.

Of course, rhythm games live and die by their music selection and by all accounts, three songs will not get you far in the way of replayability. As is the way nowadays, particularly in mobile gaming, revenue streams do come from microstransactions and downloadable content and JukeBeat has a particularly big collection to choose from.

New music comes in the forms of music packs. Music packs cost £2.49 and contain 4 new songs to play with 3 difficulties for each song. JukeBeat has a surprising amount of variety available in its music store, with many packs containing songs crossing over from other members of Konami’s bemani series and a fair few licenced packs. The licenced packs contain some particularly interesting examples, with retro packs containing the likes of Bananarama and Duran Duran and more modern influences such as Miley Cyrus, Jason Derulo and Lady GaGa. Certainly a lot of musical tastes have been covered with these packs, and there is likely something for everyone.

However, the packs are a little on the pricey side. Indeed, if you were to purchase all packs available from the store as of this moment of writing, it would cost upwards of £170 – not the smallest of investments! The stubbornness of the music pack model also means that for any particular song that someone might want, another 3 potentially unwanted songs have to be purchased, so it must be said that a little more flexibility in the marketplace would not have gone amiss.

Ultimately JukeBeat is not a game that particularly lends itself well to the smaller iPhone screen, particularly with the 16-square grid having to be shrunk down. The ability to lower the affected area on a particular screen press is a useful option and makes the game much more playable by reducing the number of accidental early triggers.

ReflecBeat+
Developer: Konami
Price: Free

Moving on to our second featured game. Another Konami rhythm game – ReflecBeat. A simplified way to describe ReflecBeat is rhythmic air hockey. In a versus-type game, discs travel toward your end zone which must be intercepted to the music. This is done at the line at the bottom of the screen, or in some cases at a few circles further up the screen.

The game provides two perspectives. A 2D perspective which displays the entire play area is visible when the device is played in portrait, and a 3D perspective that concentrates mainly on the player-active area of the field. I personally find the 3D perspective particularly difficult to play, with the lowered visibility and seemingly lowered responsiveness of the game making it a rather frustrating experience.

Interestingly, as it is played as a competitive game against the computer and thus the player is judged not only on their ability and timing in the game itself, but also on their performance against that of the computer. This can lead to a unique situation where a player can clear a song and lose. Conversely, the player can also fail a song and win.

In fact, a random event can occur in which the computer will be represented by a particularly competent player which will massively increase the requirement for winning whilst not effecting the level of difficulty for the song itself. The fact that this is a random event and not selectable is a rather odd choice and I feel is potentially a missed opportunity for replayability by introducing various characters to play against.

Again, the initial offering for the price of a download is a base of three songs. However, in this case, the songs are more representative of what is to be expected – Konami originals that are more towards the techno side.

ReflecBeat relies much more heavily on the sale of Konami original songs, with no licenced music present (as of writing) within the store. Similar to JukeBeat, ReflectBeat’s additional content comes in packs of 4 songs for £2.49. The store isn’t quite a comprehensive as JukeBeat, with only around 20 packs currently available to purchase, but plenty to be playing through for those who enjoy the Konami original tracks.

Whilst it’s nice that Konami haven’t restricted ReflecBeat to the iPad, and allowed iPhone users the opportunity to enjoy the game – and I like the premise of a competitive rhythm game in the style presented – it just isn’t suited to the smaller screen. The nuances in the gameplay are completely lost, movements over short distances and very close omnitaps are very prone to giving frustrating misses and it all adds up to what is effectively a claustrophobic feel to the game. Perhaps if it played slightly better in the 3D perspective I might have felt differently but the lack of responsiveness on this mode also ensures it is not a particularly viable option.

Re:Rave
Developer: Step Evolution
Price: £0.69

Moving away from the Konami dominated area of the rhythm game market and we can look at Re:Rave, the final of the trio of iOS games I’ll be looking at today.

Re:Rave is produced by a few members of the team that produced the In The Groove series, a well-received Dance Dance Revolution competitor that was eventually brought down by lawyers. It involves the pressing of dials that appear on screen in time with the music (Sorry, no arcade game analogy this time round). Re:Rave also introduces several dial types that increase complexity. There are dials that have to be held for a period of time and other that will travel around the screen and have to be followed. Combinations of these different types of notes lead to some interesting patterns and allow a lot of the charts to have a unique flavour to them, particularly when reaching the top end of the difficulties.

For the achievement hunters, Re:Rave also comes with a list of awards to aim for – with a set for each difficulty and then a few random incidental ones (play on Valentines Day, for example) that are bound to increase the replayability for some players. Some are a little questionable (purchase 10 premium songs) however they are completely optional and little targets to achieve in rhythm games are the lifeblood of getting players back in to play.

The game is definitely one that fits the old adage of “easy to learn, difficult to master”. On the basic level, it is hit the circles to the music. However, to really hit the higher scores requires a great amount of concentration and skill. Scores per hit are affected by hitting the note either late or early (to aid with this, Re:Rave also allows players to customise the synchronisation of the game for their own preferences) and is also dependent on how close to the centre the note is hit.

Re:Rave is the only game in this set of reviews that actually requires spending before being able to try it out – although at 69p it’s not too bad. Song packs are again available for Re:Rave, however the offerings are slightly different from the other two.

Songs are still bunched together in song packs, however, the number of songs and costs vary from pack to pack. This allows for a little more customisability, and a few cheaper packs can introduce a few more songs in at lower outlays. It is also worth pointing out that Re:Rave also offers a fair few free expansion packs that noticeably extend the initial offering without breaking the bank.

It must be said that Re:Rave is a very competent effort for rhythm gaming on the iPhone. Despite the big screen roots (which is the case of all three games in this review), Re:Rave plays rather well on the smaller screen counterpart. A fairly extensive list of free additions means that the 69p cost is a much better proposition than it perhaps may have been on release, and certainly can boast somewhat better value in the song expansion packs than the Konami offerings.

Conclusion

In conclusion, iOS offers very competent rhythm games and so for aficionados such as myself this is great news. However, it must be said that JukeBeat and ReflecBeat are much more tailored toward the bigger screen of the iPad. Whilst Re:Rave also is designed for the bigger screen, the iPhone shrinkage appears to have been dealt with better than the other two games as it still plays very competently. It is probably the least polished overall of the three games, as may be to be expected coming from a much smaller studio than Konami, but Re:Rave plays very well on iPhone which cannot be said entirely for JukeBeat and almost not at all for ReflecBeat. However, it is also worth noting that Re:Rave is also the only game that requires an initial outlay before giving it a go.

So overall, I would recommend that iPhone users at least check out JukeBeat, making sure to reduce the affected area of play once you have gotten the hang of it. If you are a fan of rhythm games, Re:Rave is a good choice as something to take a punt at, particularly with the number of free additional packs to add on to the initial 69p investment and is a game that I still find myself getting out on journeys into work. As for ReflecBeat – I wouldn’t bother unless you have an iPad to be able to fully appreciate the gameplay and have the responsiveness and accuracy that is required for a game of this complexity.

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