If you only started listening to music in the last ten to fifteen years, you’ve probably never heard the sound of a cassette player running out of batteries. The iPod generation is unfamiliar with the sound of their favorite songs becoming slower and lower as they turn into a garbled mess. After all, when a CD player or iPod runs out of juice, it just shuts off. Now the younger generation has a chance to hear their music slowly die, because that’s the sound of Riddim Ribbon going off the rails.
Riddim Ribbon is a new music game from Tapulous, who has made a big business out of selling digital music and games together through the Tap Tap series. While the Tap Tap games are all about tapping your fingers on the screen, a percussive motion that is completely natural, in Riddim Ribbon you are forced to delicately balance your iPhone like you’re using a carpenter’s level on a rickety roller coaster.
You control a freewheeling neon tire as it zips over hills marked with a bright strip of light. You have to keep your wheel directly on the strip to keep the music going, or the soundtrack will immediately start to lose its pitch and tempo. The sound of poppy dance songs going instantly out of tune with the slightest mistake is jarring and unpleasant, and it might as well be nails on a chalkboard if you like the Black Eyed Peas.
I gotta feeling my Walkman needs new batteries.
And if you don’t care for the Black Eyed Peas, then you have no business downloading this game at all. Riddim Ribbon comes with just three full songs, all of them BEP singles: Meet Me Halfway, Boom Boom Pow, and I Gotta Feeling. You can buy a few additional songs from other artists like Tiesto and Benny Benassi, but Riddim Ribbon needs a much wider selection before we can recommend it to all types of music fans.
Riddim Ribbon seemed like it had a lot of potential when Apple included it in an onstage demo back in September to show what the iPhone and iPod Touch were capable of. The features we thought were so impressive back then, like branching pathways for alternate remixes, come across as distracting in the final product. You are constantly forced to awkwardly transition into remixes throughout each song, and it gives the music an inconsistent feel. It is also very difficult to get the 80% accuracy required to unlock the medium and hard stages.
Walk the line.
Our biggest disappointment with Riddim Ribbon is not the music selection, which we think will probably get better in the weeks and months ahead. It’s the fact that the core gameplay is so unnatural and entirely at odds with the pleasure of listening to music. Enjoying music shouldn’t be such an irritating, disjointed experience. It should be as natural as sitting back in your favorite chair while wearing a pair of headphones, or stepping into a crowded room at a party with a drink in your hand.
Riddim Ribbon sounds and feels off. The few moments the music, visuals, and gameplay come together are not necessarily worth the aggravation, and there are only so many times you can replay the same few songs before they fail to excite. We’re hoping Riddim Ribbon becomes better over time with a few updates, because right now it’s not so Boom Boom Pow.