iPhone Life magazine

Review: B-Boy Beats by Tag Games

I claim to be disinterested when it comes to the whole “follow the rhythm” genre, but if developers keep making variants like B-Boy Beats and Thumpies, people are going to start calling me “DJ Liar Liar Pants On Fire”.  I’m no good at the game, and I can’t even play it the right way, which has gotten me stuck on a level that absolutely requires me to play it the right way.  Despite that, I still find myself taking breaks from games that I’m actually supposed to be reviewing in order to play this one.  As a result, I figured I might as well take the time to review B-Boy Beats, so at least I can feel like I’m accomplishing something.

Watch Yer FingersI don’t want to offend the Tap Tap Revenge people, but for me that style of game play is not very compelling.  Of course, given the game’s sales figures I know I’m in the minority, but I can live with that.  However, my appreciation for the “follow the rhythm” concept as a whole began to change when I reviewed Beat It by Glu Mobile.  In all fairness it would be better served calling this a “match the rhythm” game, but people more “in the know” than I lumped it into the genre, so I figured why argue?  Then came Thumpies which went back to the “follow the rhythm” model but presented the game in an entirely different way that was cool and entertaining.

Now we have B-Boy Beats.  I actually passed on the chance to request a promo code for this game because I looked at the screen shots and thought “that doesn’t look like much fun”.  To my surprise, however, people seemed to be giving it good reviews, so when the game went on sale for 99 cents I decided to pick up a copy, and now my only regret is that I want to keep playing even though I have other things to work on (well, that and the fact that I’m no good at the game).

Like most rhythm games, B-Boy Beats requires you to tap in time with the music.  However, this game doesn’t use the now highly worn layout of having the notes fall from the top of the screen and requiring you to tap them when they reach a certain point at the bottom of the screen.  Instead, B-Boy Beats is more like an interactive dance chart.  You start by placing two fingers on the screen on icons that represent your right and left foot.  As the music plays the icons will move, and you must lift up the appropriate finger and place it back on the moved icon.  The thing is, if you accidentally move the other finger you’ll get penalized.  Also, if you set the right finger down at the wrong time you’ll get penalized.  If you do things right you can earn either 10, 50 or 100 points, depending on how close to “perfect” timing your tap is.

Now if you think you’re getting off easy, that’s because I haven’t gone over everything.  Eventually moves will get more complicated.  You’ll have to do slides, which requires you to tap the icon and then drag your finger back to the icon’s original position, once again being respectful of the timing.  At some point you’ll also have to start moving both fingers at the same time.  And then comes then need to use your other hand.  Yes, there are special icons that require a second hand, because you can’t take your fingers off the foot icons and unless you’re circus freak flexible there’s little chance you’ll hit the new icons with your same hand.

To top it off you have an audience, and if I must be honest I have to say this is the most annoying audience I’ve ever not seen in a video game.  At the top of the screen is a meter.  It starts in a neutral position, and as you make correct moves the meter goes up.  Occasionally you might even hear an exclamation of joy as someone becomes impressed with one of your moves.  All it takes is one wrong move, however, and that meter comes a-tumblin’ down.  Then the street smack starts flyin’.  You know, things like “my grandma can dance better than that”.  If the line ever falls to the far side of the red on the meter you automatically fail the dance routine, even if your percentage of misses is far less than correct moves.  This is one unforgiving audience.

You Put Your Right Foot In...So here’s my problem.  You’re supposed to play the game primarily with two fingers on the same hand.  You know, like if your fingers were dancing?  The problem is that I look like the beat box equivalent of the Three’s Company cast when I try to play it that way.  So, I decided to use one finger from each hand.  That works much better… until you have the moves that require a second hand.  Unfortunately I’m not a mutant and can’t spring a third hand at will, so now I’m forced to play the game the “right” way.  Turns out I’m actually getting a bit better at playing the game that way, but I still like the “one finger from each hand” approach better.

The various locations are rendered from a top down perspective and they’re really not that exciting to look at, but it doesn’t matter much since your fingers and hands will be blocking the screen most of the time.  The way the icons fade in and out is pretty cool, and it does look slick when you get several correct in a row (I believe they have to be perfects) and the icons start on fie – you know, you’re hot… smokin’… well, on fire?  The little heads that represent the other dancers are okay, but it would have been a lot cooler to see some waist up renders done in a comic book style.  I think it would have fit the game better.

The sound effects are actually kind of useful in this game, because they correlate to how well you scored on a move.  If you get used to the different noises you don’t even have to see the points temporarily flashing on the screen to know how well you are doing.  The music is obviously a collection of hip-hop break dance beat box music – in other words, it’s not my type of music and I don’t really know how you’d classify it.  That’s the main reason these types of games usually don’t appeal to me, because I’m either not familiar with the music selections or I just don’t like them.  I’m not real keen on most of the tunes here either, but in the overall scheme of things that make the game work well and that’s fine with me.

From Footloose to Dirty Dancing to Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, you know you’ve always wanted to take part in the wild and crazy routines you’ve seen on screen.  Well, this really doesn’t help in that cause, but it’s still a nice deviation from most rhythm games.  And, I guess in a way you get to dance, so it’s all good.  Thankfully there’s no headspin, though, or I’d have some pretty sore knuckles now.  Anyway, I’d definitely recommend checking this out, even if you’re not typically a fan of rhythm games.  I think you’ll agree that B-Boy Beats strays from the beaten path.  Or maybe it marches to the beat of a different drummer.  Shall I go on?  Nah, just go try the game…

Overall Score: 9/10
App Store Link
 

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Eric Pankoke has been a gamer for more than 20 years. He began with arcade games, moving to consoles and eventually handhelds and Pocket PCs. Now he spends most of his time on one of his iOS devices. Eric has written more than 700 gaming reviews, which have appeared on a number of gaming websites as well as several issues of both Smartphone & Pocket PC and iPhone Life magazines. He regularly contributes to iphonelife.com and TouchMyApps. Ultimately he hopes to eventually develop games himself for whatever the hot mobile device is when he finally gets moving.