BeatRider Touch Review

BeatRider Touch is a music/rhythm game that seems to make a world of sense. Take the iPod–the leader in portable music accessibility–and build an app that liberates players to Tap Tap with the tracks from their own library. Brilliant!

But don’t get too excited. The current iPhone OS puts up some daunting hurdles in implementing that kind of freedom. And although BeatRider is the first to attempt the jump, its legs are a tad short… and the track is made of quicksand.

Tap to your own library… if you can wait that long.

Let’s talk logistics. Apple limits developers from accessing the device’s music folder–a restraint that’s reportedly lifted in the forthcoming update to 3.0. BeatRider sidesteps the dilemma by allowing players to upload tracks to an account at mybeatrider.com, to be re-downloaded directly into the app itself. Ingenuity aside, given the time that it takes to prepare 10 songs–about 30 minutes on a quick connection–it’ll be difficult to get most people on board. What’s more, the uploaded tracks lose licensing after seven days, requiring weekly attention to keep the 20-track allotment playing.

BeatRider’s gameplay presents standard music/rhythm fare. Beats fall along the channels of a fretboard, passing into the foreground’s “Determination Bar,’ as savvy-fingered players gain points tapping out the corresponding buttons. But whereas Tap Tap features three lines of beats, and Guitar Rock Tour features four, BeatRider pulls a near impossible five into the fray. There’s simply too little room to keep the rhythm under wraps, and without support for a landscape mode, chubby-fingered players are at a greater disadvantage than ever before.

But how well does the game implement your uploaded music? Quite well, actually–provided that you’re playing on the easier of six difficulty settings. It’s here that the game allows itself time to shape the most suitable beats. Ramp up the difficulty and it all seems to gets a bit random. To be sure, in terms of challenge, this one brings it to the best of tappers.

There’s not much to get excited about in presentation. The action is set within a Matrix-like vortex of binary code, bordered by a techo-industrial interface. Tapping the buttons relays a beat of electronic percussion that’s perfectly suited to the likes of Flight of the Conchords’ “Inner City Pressure.” But the beats are a little on the loud side, and less-synthesized music might not fare so well.

BeatRider Touch is hard to recommend. Although the website does a great job syncing your stats to robust online leaderboards, there are just too many negatives to warrant the $4.99 price tag. After the release of OS 3.0, it’s likely we’ll see similar offerings working directly with the iPhone’s music library. If you can’t wait until then, be sure to try out the demo before committing.

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