Friday, 27 May 2011

Experimental Review: Music Catch

I typed this up the other day when I was thinking about applying for the position of Joystiq's UK Editor. Admittedly being an editor might imply some skills I probably don't have, but I thought it was worth a shot. 

I never applied. I decided that I probably didn't want to be a games journalist, for lots of good reasons. Anyway... here's the game Music Catch they wanted reviewed in under 300 words. Below's my review! Why waste it?


It’s always wonderful to come across a game where the rules can be explained in about 3 sentences which take up no more than 20 seconds of your time.
The game is pretty simple: drag your cursor around the screen collecting shapes which spew out in plumes like seed from coral reefs in time to the music. The louder the track, the more violently the shapes erupt forth. Yellow shapes grant you point multipliers and make your cursor bigger while the red shapes (typecast as usual) steal the boons given to you by the yellows. 

Unlike Canabalt, one of the eternally great 30 second thrills, Music Catch’s attractiveness is hampered by its dependence on Music. That catch is well and truly in the title.

This is a game of 3 minute thrills, and the quality of which is really going to depend upon your familiarity with the track. When do I need to hoover up the points? When do I need to shrink back from the fanfare? It’s all too much like a musical Pac Man, as you greedily gobble the spirits of the tune, but the power pill has been put into the hands of the conductor!

While this powerlessness can be a bit frustrating, it works well with the risk reward process. High fat yellow multipliers engorge your cursor, increasing the number of points you can collect, but making you more vulnerable to the low-fat joy stealing red shapes.

As your cursor grows, and its multiplier swells, your instinct is to protect what you’ve got. Don’t let those nasty reds distribute your multiplier to the masses! Cling to what you’ve got! Of course that is exactly the point at which, like some bloated bumble bee you must plunge into danger, collecting the nectar of the notes.

Throughout the online version, I found myself wishing for Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Enough of this piano warbling! When will the guitars kick in? But then this is, or perhaps should be, a 30second thrill.

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