Groove Coaster can’t be called just a rhythm game. Sure, it has the same concept of games like Rock Band or Tap Tap Revenge, but it also uses psychedelic environments and elements akin to platforming games. The result is a mesmerizing laser show of both sight and sound in a game with more depth than you first might expect.
Groove Coaster is the brainchild of TAITO, a developer who also released Space Invaders Infinity Gene. In many ways, Groove Coaster is the Mario Kart to Infinity Gene’s Super Mario. Elements, like characters and songs, of the arcade classic are present in this new game, but they take on new meaning in this new world. The games look almost identical, relying on simple lines and dynamic color to create astounding levels.
The objective of the game, like other rhythm games, is to tap in time with the song, with that specific beat visually represented by a button on screen. Unlike other rhythm games, your onscreen avatar goes to these beats, rather than waiting for them to come to you. Groove Coaster also has simplified the beats. There is no scale of notes to tap. Instead there is only one, universal beat, but you must learn how to tap the screen to earn the points.
In space, you can’t hear yourself groove.
The majority of these beats require a simple tap anywhere on the screen. Based on the difficulty of the track, you may have one or multiple beats in sequence to hit. You receive a score based on how in-time your tap was, and the more beats you hit in a row, the higher your score.
Some beats are more difficult. For instance, some will require you to swipe your finger across the screen, and others will fly in from nowhere and land in your path. Trickier beats will require you to vigorously tap or hold your finger down on the screen.
An ingenious addition to this mechanic is the ad lib system, which encourages you to tap when no beat appears, but where you feel it is in time with the track. There is no penalty for tapping out of place, but if you find a hidden ad lib beat, you are rewarded with bonus points. These ad libs encourage you to explore old tracks and trust your musical instincts rather than your screen.
A high tech connect-the-dots.
The further you get into the game, the more there is to do. As you play through each track, you earn experience and level up. Leveling up unlocks new avatars. Avatars are your little characters, which glide along the path towards each beat. And each avatar has its own perk. Some help increase your points, while others guide you through difficult tracks.
Your avatar moves along a path, on which wait the beats for you to tap. The path itself curves and loops, changing your view of the incoming beats. Just like Infinity Gene, the game uses simple line-based graphics that don’t look like much in screenshots, but they’re gorgeous in action. Each track features amazing background objects, which can interact with your path to create an experience uncommon to rhythm games.
If the game has one downfall, it’s that the soundtrack isn’t for everyone. It’s mostly Japanese techno, and the tracks can be hit and miss. Like most other music games, your enjoyment is tied closely into the quality of the songs, and while most songs are fun and will have your head bobbing, one or two are a little less than pleasing to the ear. These songs may not be everyone, but there are plenty of rhythm games out there for anyone wanting more poppy music.
From the moment we opened this app, we were hooked. The amount of polish, ingenuity, and depth put into every level of this game has us very impressed. Quite frankly, we can’t wait to see what TAITO comes out with next.