While rhythm action games in the old-school vein of Parappa the Rapper have certainly seen their day, Simogo Games has come to the table with a lightly veiled reincarnation entitled Beat Sneak Bandit. The game takes place in the city of Pulsebury, in which you, The Bandit, have learned that all the clocks in town are being stolen. The suspect is none other than Duke Clockface: villainous owner of the mysterious Clockwork Mansion. Serving more as Batman than Bandit, you invoke vigilante law in an attempt to steal back the town’s clocks.
After an establishing cut scene you are dropped into the mansion, and it’s here that the appeal of the overall design of Beat Sneak Bandit is revealed. Its art style is an amalgam of everything Cartoon Network, with elements of its look and feel revealing a strong influence from the Sly Cooper franchise.
But if fans are looking for a portable Sly Cooper they should look elsewhere. It very quickly becomes apparent that Beat Sneak Bandit is much more of a puzzle game than a platformer. Potential buyers beware: just because screenshots show the bandit standing beside gaps of girder does not mean you will be running and jumping over said gaps.
This is much more of a music rhythm puzzle game than anything else – so much so that players are warned that the game cannot be played without sound. Public Transit commuters lacking headphones are to avoid this game at all costs. Sound is a necessity here, as the player can only progress through a level by tapping the screen as the baseline to the in-game music beats. The baseline itself is generally just a steady rhythmic timestamp, but obstacles in the world such as spotlights, guards, and bandit vacuums (yes, bandit vacuums) move to more elaborate substrates of the song. For example: spotlights may turn on as snare drums are sounded, and guards may turn around as the sound of a turntable scratches through your speakers. This is a novel idea in theory, but in practice it isn’t always compelling, nor does it come together as naturally as one would expect. The controls sometimes seem too abrupt, and for a game with such an emphasis on music, the small variety of songs is often dull and repetitive.
As the world beats to the sound of music, the Bandit must navigate his way through each level, collecting small clocks while reaching his ultimate goal of securing one large clock. Levels are “completed” when the large clock is reached, but just as stars must be earned in Angry Birds, a perfect score can only be achieved by collecting every additional small clock.
The key to these navigations comes in isolating the rhythmic patterns of each obstacle. Once you do, it’s an entirely satisfying feeling. Flawlessly completing a level makes the player feel, quite literally, in harmony with the game. The glaring problem is that this comes along at a far too laboured pace. In order to properly understand each puzzle, players are forced to spend minutes on end watching the screen pulse to the beat before making a move. Trial and error is the word of law, and in a bite sized game of this caliber, it feels out of place.
Everything from the art design, to the gameplay, to the overall idea seems to be right, but at the end of the day it feels stale long before it feels fun. Obstacles are varied in their look, but mostly everything in the environment boils down to “something to be avoided.” This may sound like an oversimplification, but unfortunately it also feels like one in practice. Although at its heart there lies an intriguing, innovative control scheme and overall idea, I feel as though I’ve played this game before.
All in all Beat Sneak Bandit is a novel idea with poor execution. While it is still worth the price of admission in some regards, I would only recommend buying it if you have already played and beat the classics.
|Title:||Beat Sneak Bandit||Developer:||Simogo|
|Reviewed Ver:||1.0||Min OS Req:||3.1.3|