Making video games is hard. Alex Evans of Media Molecule described it as akin to being repeatedly punched in the face. Threaks, the German developers behind Beatbuddy - Tale of the Guardians must know a little about this as their game, although excellent, doesn't actually function as intended. But more on that later, let's dive in to the world of Beatbuddy shall we?
Set in an underwater world of Symphonia, the game puts the player into the role of Beatbuddy. He is a mystical being that is responsible for the creation and maintenance of music. Without him and his two sisters music would cease to be, so we owe a lot to Beatbuddy and his siblings. A fellow inhabitant of Symphonia is Prince Maestro.
A self important and vain individual, he has created an imbalance within the world of Symphonia while trying to take control of music for himself. It is at this point the player is thrust into the action and must guide Beatbuddy through the maze like caverns, all of which are littered with a myriad of dangerous creatures, the most viscous being the game crippling bugs that even Beatbuddy cannot thwart. But I digress, let us expand on how the game plays shall we? At least when it's working...
The game is a 2D action adventure that intertwines music with the action on the screen and how the player interacts with it. Timing is all about hitting actions on the beat, hence the name of the game, and the player is punished for not respecting the musical score. It is this as well as the really impressive visuals that mark out Beatbuddy - Tale of the Guardians
from so many other action adventure games. That is when you can actually see them of course, for they do have a tendency to vanish for no apparent reason...
Puzzles are the main-stay of Beatbuddy - Tale of the Guardians
as they require the player to guide Beatbuddy around to open games and transport his little dancing blue self around while avoid a host of critters hell bent on his destruction. The player is required to interact with items in the world that can either aid or hinder Beatbuddy's progress and the complexity of the puzzles and levels grows as the game unfolds. The difficultly curve is very shallow, but not so shallow as to make the game too easy. If anything the primary barrier to progress is the game's bugs, which are genuinely game breaking.
While Beatbuddy - Tale of the Guardians
is very much a PC game, it has been designed to be played on a gamepad. Mouse and keyboard play is possible, but is far from recommended as Beatbuddy requires a form of timed directional control that cannot be afforded on anything but a controller. That is when it's responding to the controls of course.
Visually Beatbuddy - Tale of the Guardians
is an absolute delight. The artwork on display is really impressive with all of it hand-drawn. It has a cartoon like style that is not too dissimilar to the Metal Slug series of games, only the main characters are all odd little pot-bellied creatures that look like they are wearing onesies. There is also the use of multi-layered scrolling, with elements in the foreground being shown out of focus and thus providing a sense of depth.
The animation is really crisp and filled with humour. There are little snails that when listening to a snare drum extend spikes from their backs. Once the snare drum is silenced, the snails wake up and for a time the passage is made clear for Beatbuddy to pass. Just as the snails are about the extend their spikes again, their eyes smash together as they wobble about on their stalks. It is touches like these that make Beatbuddy - Tale of the Guardians
such a delight to watch and play. It is just a shame that it is not functioning at the time of writing this review. Oh and yes this review is based on code that was deemed of sufficient quality to pass judgement on it.
The music found in Beatbuddy - Tale of the Guardians
is exceptional. With artists such as Sabrepulse and Austin Wintory all pitching in tunes for Beatbuddy to bop away too as he tries to prevent Prince Maestro from destroying Symphonia and music along with it, there is little to fault here and it is one of the few things that is not broken about the game.
So Beatbuddy - Tale of the Guardians
is an excellent game, filled with amazing music, innovative gameplay mechanics and dazzling visuals, what's not to like? Well how about the fact that I had to restart levels on multiple occasions thanks to being trapped after loading a save. The primary error concerns the checkpoint save system as Beatbuddy - Tale of the Guardians
does not allow for a save-anywhere system but instead relies on the console friendly save point method.
Now this is fine, except that this is the only save the player has, which means that when, and I mean when the player is effectively trapped because a bug in the game prevents any progress in certain save positions, the level cannot be completed, forcing a restart. This is incredibly frustrating as it is not the fault of the player they cannot progress, but the game's code. How such a bug got through play-testing I'll never know, but it did and that is the current state the game is in.Beatbuddy - Tale of the Guardians
is the first game Threaks have developed and has been worked on over a period of 4 years, which demonstrates aptly Mr Evan's view that making video games is very much like being punched in the face.
Sadly Threaks do not appear to have got up from the floor from the sound pounding Beatbuddy - Tale of the Guardians
has delivered unto them. The fact is this game needs another 6-12 months of bug fixing before it was released into the wild. I recommend you hold off investing for a fair few months yet as the game simply doesn't work as intended, which is a crying shame as without the bugs it's one of the most entertaining games I have played. Pros:+
Innovative music based control system+
Clever but not too taxing puzzles that require some dexterity on the part of the playerCons:-
No level restart or chapter select-
It doesn't work SPOnG Score: 3/10
in its present state, 8/10
after it has eventually been fixed.