Groove Coaster in Review – The Beat Is Mighty Fine

 

I’m not what you’d call a die hard fan of rhythm games, but there have been occasions where I’ve been quite intrigued with the concept – Thumpies (TMA Review) comes to mind in this regards.  I’m proud to say that I can now add Groove Coaster to that small list of games.  As I’ve been playing this new release from Taito I’ve tried to wrap my mind around how to describe it, and the truth is it’s not all that easy.  However you want to look at it, though, it’s one of the most engaging rhythm games I’ve ever played.  The best part is that even when you don’t care for the tracks, the game is still fun.

If you’ve ever played a rhythm game before, you know the basic premise behind all of them is to tap, swipe, drag or hold at just the right moment.  In Groove Coaster you follow a little avatar along a track, and at the appropriate time you either tap or hold to keep time with the beat.  For every successful tap or hold maneuver you contribute to a chain that builds up your “groove meter”.  You can only complete a track when the meter is full, so be sure to get your groove on.  If you miss you’ll be robbed of some groove, but thankfully it’s not a catastrophic loss.  You should be able to complete most tracks even with a few misses.

As you complete tracks you’ll earn experience (though I don’t believe it’s ever actually phrased that way), and eventually you’ll “level up”.  This usually earns you a new avatar or a new skin.  Avatars, skins and items can be changed each time you start a new track.  Avatars do things like speed up the filling of your groove meter or provide hints as you’re playing the game.  I’m not quite sure what skins are used for yet, other than they change the visual appearance of the track.  They might be purely aesthetic.  As for items, so far the only ones I’ve seen are the ones you can buy through IAP, and I’m not real impressed with their capabilities.  Oh, and items are limited in use, so after 10 plays with an item you’ll need to buy it again.  According to the status screen in Groove Coaster there are 297 items, but I have as yet to earn one for leveling up.  You can also buy avatars and new tracks in the App Store, but those are unlimited use.

I originally started this paragraph with “control is a simple matter of”, but as I’m playing more of the normal versions of the levels (each level has an easy, normal and unlockable hard level), I’m finding that there’s more to this game than simple tap or tap and hold.  Some areas might have you tap and then drag back and forth, while other spots might require you to flick or do other things.  The one thing I do know is that each successful motion is ranked on a scale of good to prefect, and helps build your chain.  Any botched motion is ranked a miss and breaks your chain.  There are Game Center achievements to be earned, and unlike most games that often go as far as blocking the game play to display a new achievement earned, the display in Groove Coaster is very subtle.  In fact, you might not always see it, so they’ve kindly provided the option to check your achievements in the status screen.  The main thing that has really impressed me so far is the fact that I haven’t gotten bored on a single track, even if I didn’t particularly care for the music.  That’s a pretty decent accomplishment in itself.

Speaking of music, that’s the heart of the game, right?  Well, yes and no.  It’s true you wouldn’t have a rhythm game without music, but there are actually a few tracks I don’t care for.  What makes the tracks work, even if you don’t enjoy them, is how they interact with your motions.  You are in effect “adding” beats with your motions, so if you’re not on time, the track might not sound quite like it should.  It’s actually a great mechanic.

Visually the game is stunning in its simplicity.  Wireframe objects and particle effects abound, and for the most part it all works together really well.  The avatars even have a little bit of animation going on as they are zooming along the track.  The main problem is that sometimes the effects can actually get in the way and make it hard to tell what’s going on.  The same can be said for the layout of the track itself.  The last track in particular has a lot of loops and corners and things that make it difficult to judge where exactly the “tap” points are.  Still, it’s a minor inconvenience for the most part, and the visuals are a big factor in the engrossing nature of the game.

I highly recommend Groove Coaster to any fan of the rhythm game genre.  If you’ve never played such a game before, or have and decided you didn’t care for it, I’d suggest giving Groove Coaster a try anyway.  You probably haven’t experienced much like it on the App Store before.  It’s challenging, engrossing and fun, and between the 3 difficulty levels, the achievements and the avatars, items and skins to earn, there is incredible replay value.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Groove CoasterDeveloper: TAITO Corporation
Reviewed Ver:1.0.0Min OS Req:4.2
Price:$0.99App Size:71.6 MB
  • Incredibly engaging
  • Tons of replay value
  • Amazing visuals
  • Some songs are great
  • Special effects can impede game play
  • Tracks sometimes hard to follow visually

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