Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review - Beatbuddy

I spent four hours playing a game called Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians -- a 2D side-scrolling adventure game where you play as a blobby sea creature on a journey through a music-filled underwater world looking for your sister Harmony.

In this series, you never have to wait for my opinion: in this case, Beatbuddy did a fantastic job of combining traditional side-scrolling action with their delicious blend of club-inspired music. Overall, the game was fun and clearly something that would appeal to both kids and adults.

But is it right for you? Well let's find out.

What is it?

Since this game isn't terribly complex, this will be one of the shorter reviews I ever do. Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is a side-scroller in the flavor of Trine -- but with no gravity as you are living in an underwater realm.

Your job is to navigate the labrythian maze of the world both in and out of a diving-bell-esk craft, simultaneously avoiding the dangerous spiky sea creatures that live on the walls, their dangerously acidic bubbles, and the occasional deep sea monster that looks to make you it's lunch. All this while using the beat of the background music to amplify your movements.

Along the way you meet new friends, pick up allies, and eavesdrop on enemy troops to gain valuable intel.

You're going up against Prince Maestro -- a dilettante and aspiring dictator who is looking to hoard and control the music of the world in order to enslave it's inhabitants. His vivacious speaking style and personality are a threat and you must save your fellow citizens (despite their brainwashed adoration) from Maestro's dastardly plans.

The game was developed by Threaks -- a new development house whose only other release, Hermes-Run, was less inspired.

Without question, the plot and characters in this story are entertaining for both adults and kids, which makes this title a great gift for anyone.


  • When you stand idle for about a minute or so, Beatbuddy does a cute little dance to the music.
  • The music in this game in phenominal. Just to jack up the interest level, there are two versions of each song -- one for when you're outside of your diving bell and one for when you're inside. All told, my favorite part of the game was advancing to the next level to see what the next song was.
  • Bouncing is a big part of this game. There are trampolines that you can rotate and -- when aligned properly -- they will glow as if light is shining from trampoline-to-trampoline like mirrors. It's a really cleaver mechanic that helps make sure you have the puzzle solved correctly.
  • When you're injured, the music dampens as if your ears are clogged. I thought that was cool.
  • At the end of a level, you get a score, your time, and a readout of how many things you could have gotten and how many things you actually did get. This makes for good replayability later as you can try to better both your time and your thoroughness.
  • As you play, there are save points everywhere. You never have to replay more than three minutes if you die. Huge fan!
  • Though the story is cryptic, there is a lot of good humor written into the plot. There are these two bumbling guards who keep giving you all kinds of secrets as you go along. I have to admit, it's pretty funny in spots.
  • The game breaks up the monotony of traveling through a maze by adding in boss battles and what are essentially mini-games where you can earn bonus crystals.
  • As you play, you unlock a lot of extras -- which include funny photos of the devs in their office. I like behind-the-scenes stuff like that.
  • The aspect ratio includes not only super-high resolution monitors, but also 640x480 for older computers. That was an unexpected plus.


  • As a side-scroller, position is everything in solving certain puzzles. There are (albeit rare) times in this game where the shadowy foreground elements that give it a 3D-like visual style block your view of your character. Whether intentional or accidental, interfering with my game with a blurry column or seaweed is annoying. Now, with that being said, I exempt any situation where they used the foreground to hide secret caches of gems and such -- which they did quite well.
  • The story is nice, but it comes in pieces. You get almost nothing at the beginning, but by the end you have pieced it all together. It's very Super Mario Bros in that way. While as a games veteran I didn't have an issue with this, if you're the kind of person who cares about impetus, you'll have to wait until level two or three to start to see the whole picture come together.
  • On several occasions, I was so focused on dodging bubbles and bad guys that I didn't realize I had doubled-back and gone in a circle. They could use some signs here and there to keep you on the right track.
  • The menu screens and the end screens are retna-burning pure white monstrosities that cause physical pain after staring into the darkness of an ocean for 45 minutes.
  • I took issue with the camera in this game. There are times where it zooms in for effect in order to either a) highlight an animation or plot point you're involved in, or b) to limit what you can see to increase drama. This was annoying when it happened because when you're being chased by a giant fish you expect to be able to see everything you could see before.
  • On a related note, when you move quickly in one direction, sometimes the camera doesn't pan fast enough to keep up with you, leaving you on the edge of the screen unable to see any of the bad guys you're about to plow into.
  • When you change levels, you lose all the crystals you have been collecting. This is important because crystals represent hit points in this game, so you suddenly become vulnerable again at the start of a new level for no particular reason.
  • I played this game with a mouse. While movement is difficult, it's supposed to be that way -- it's part of the game's design. With that being said, there's a huge warning in the options menu telling you that if you play with the keyboard, there may be an issue with ghosting. Long story short: if you don't like mouse games and don't own a game pad, then you should expect issues when playing this game with a keyboard.

Final Thoughts

I'm not a huge side-scrolling fan, but it's clear that a lot of time and effort was put into this game in order to make it a fun and challenging mix of puzzles and pop.

I like this game a lot, would recommend it to anyone, and I am looking forward to seeing what the next title is from the freaks at Threaks.

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