NS Review – Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians (Wii U)
^now try reading those fourteen words again but far far quicker. Got it? Ace. If you don’t then read the rest of this review at least you’ve made an achievement today. An achievement of being able to banter with the same beatbox identity similar to the cast of Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians!
Here’s a title that has taken a commendable prospect by allowing its sound design to take the lead of the game design conga line. In the midst of the aquatic art direction enemy hermit crabs shuffle their legs to hi-hat taps, bouncy anemones pulse to bass-drum thuds and bubbles pop to iconic snare-drum cracks. It’s an involvement very much dictated by its musicality inside and out. From the get go I was whisked right into the first level’s electro-swing groove, perhaps a product of my fondness for neo 1920’s nights out.
So it goes without saying the music composition for this game is absolutely terrific (well it had to be really didn’t it?) and I was elated to realise London based chiptunist Sabrepulse and Mr. Wintory (composer for thatgamecompany’s Journey) were amongst the contributing artists.
As for the actual player’s input you’re in the role of Symphonia’s saviour, or Beatbuddy for short. The entirety of this spent swimming around (2D platformer style) within six themed caverns by oneself or alternatively piloting the ‘Bubblebuggy’ over chapters. This is where my opinion rifted initially, because as soon as I was introduced to the latter I stopped looking forward to the next inevitable barricade scripting me out of the rompingly rhythmic submersible sections.
The bounce plate repositioning, keystone to gate switch carrying, brief combat and mildly frustrating time based sprinting of the Beatbuddy only sections I soon found gumming up the fun in comparison. With the anticipation of the next Bubblebuggin’ along to the tunes stint being the main motivation for progression. See there’s an endearing mechanic here where a well timed onbeat button press every second beat causes the sub to dash in time with the fully fleshed out level composition. In these moments I believe you can truly ‘feel’ the game in motion, if all is going to plan your head nods will follow suit also.
Each level will clock you roughly forty-five minutes play and all appear like visual scores for their accompanying song. There is a story plot, a moustached baddie and some humour sprinkled in for good measure. As mentioned before the opposing underwater critters act like instrumental layers, because isn’t it much more interesting when a troubled snail shoots at you timed to a guitar lick? Differing samples of the overarching music will fade in and out depending on your location. It should be more than obvious now a volume up playthrough is compulsory, but then again I’ve always scorned at any claiming to play video games post a mute button push!
There’s the ex sound designer part of me whom wishes to let my “any experience which weaves the soundtrack into its gameplay core is a must play” bias completely loose upon this closing verdict. Whereas there’s also the matured semi deaf button pusher part who would prefer to reign that blinded beast of a statement back to my not too distant feet.
Let’s put it this way, the plushie touting digital scientists at THR3AKS have pumped a very appealing idea into the circulatory system of a six track EP, and when the player’s sensory metronome syncs up during Beatbuddy its a wonderful representation of what the world of video games can offer that other entertainment mediums cannot. However, please be warned, as for when the experience wades into its finicky puzzle solving lulls the stripped back music loops do have danger of outstaying their head boppin’ welcome.
Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is out now worldwide. This Nintendo Scene Review wouldn’t have been possible without a press copy kindly provided courtesy of THR3AKS.