Beat Hazard

Yesterday I clocked about 1 hour of Beat Hazard. But, what is Beat Hazard?

As Audiosurf, Beat Hazard is a game that uses your own music to provide gameplay. But instea of a Klax type of game, Beat Hazard plays more like Asteroids.

The song you chose doesn’t affect the number of enemies or their power. What it does is increase your firepower.

And there isn’t much more to add about it. As any Asteroid game, you must avoid being hit by any other object flying around. Sure, sure, there are asteroids, other ships and even bosses, but the basic mechanic is the same. There are power ups, which can increase the damage your weapons do, give more bombs capable of clearing part of your screen, increase the bonus you get from each kill and get “cash”, which you can use to buy perks.

Perks can help you by increasing your bonuses or giving you some bonus right from the start of the game. Why start with nothing when you can start with half weapon power?

The game surely adds some more depth to the original Asteroids formula, but nothing comes without cost: Because your weapons react with your song — including color, like a modern spectrum analyzer — and the piling up of explosions and debris, your eyes will get tired pretty fast. I couldn’t keep playing for more than 30 minutes in a row without getting teary eyes.

Another problem I found was the music selection. First, I couldn’t find any way to load playlists, either from iTunes or from Winamp (iTunes form my OS X partition, Winamp from my Windows partition, reading the songs from the OS X partition). Second, it doesn’t have an easy way to navigate your songs. Sure, when you’re selecting a song, you can select directories as any good filemanager, but once you select a track and play it, the game only sees that folder — if you want to select another directory, you have to start over. Sure, it works if you put all your songs in the same folder, but if you use any application that organizes your songs based on artists, album or anything like that, then you’ll get somewhat pissed.

But the problems seem minor. It’s a pretty good casual game to waste some time while trying to learn how to coordenate your two hands to move and shoot around.

Short Reviews of my Steam Summer Sale Games

This is the last day of the Summer Sale on Steam, with lower prices for selected games. In those 10 days, I bought some games that either I heard of or was planning on buying — or, in the very end, ‘cause they were really cheap. The ones I got:

  • Solar 2: I did an early review of it already but it kinda dropped in the background after getting other games. It have a good sense of humour (IMHO) but some missions suck sometimes. The idea of allowing the player to change gameplay options only after completing some missions is really good, though.
  • BIT.TRIP.RUNNER: Again, I did an early review of it but I’m somewhat frustrated with the current level I’m playing. Reason? It’s 3 times longer than most levels and going back to the start after failing really punishes you there. Not to mention that the first “health bonus” is far away from the start, so you keep hearing the base tune for too long. But I still stand on my early review: It’s really well done mix of side scroller and music.
  • Magicka: Who hasn’t heard about Magicka, the crazy, funny, isometric game about… erm… magics? I got it ‘cause it seemed really fun while watching videos of it on YouTube (specially the ones with TotalBiscuit and the Yoggcast crew) but I didn’t go too far in it. The controls get really confusing after a while and the lack of explanations on what would happen when you mix spells is a major let down.
  • Trine: One of the things I bought just because it was cheap. This is a side scroller/puzzle solver game where you play with one of three characters — a warrior, a magician and a rogue/archer — and you can freely switch between them, while trying to reach the end of the level. The graphic quality is amazing, but most places I wanted to reach where really hard with my motor skills and it got so frustrating that I haven’t touched it anymore.
  • Audiosurf: I got Audiosurf after hearing about it for a loooong time. Unfortunately, my expectations didn’t met the game in some mid point. No, there is nothing wrong with the game, it’s just that watching incoming blocks while keeping one eye in the blocks you already have is harder than I thought — or realized, for that matter. One nice touch here is that the in game help options really explain how the maps are generated, so understand why a map works in some way.
  • Sanctum: This is really a nice concept: A FPS with Tower Defense. You put tower to stop enemies reaching the core (your base in other tower defense games) and, when ready, you switch to your guns and help the towers. This game got high points with me for two reasons: 1) It’s a tower defense game and 2) It got a sniper rifle and you can easily just camp — something I really did love doing in Unreal Tournament (and the fact that it uses the Unreal engine probably helps here).

Now, if only I could be one of the 100 people that would get 10 of their games from their wishlists…