Published on August 30th, 2013 | by Chris Scott0
Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardian Review
Summary: The game has the instruments needed to perform a masterful concerto but it flubs just a few key notes to keep it from becoming an instant classic.
There are two sides of musical fusion in games. There are titles like Beat Hazard, Audiosurf, and Symphony that take the player’s personal musical collections and deliver gameplay based on the waveforms of those songs. Then there are titles like Sound Shapes and Lumines that use music to craft a specific experience. While there is something special about being able to utilize one’s own music to deliver a gameplay experience, allowing for countless variations of that experience, nothing quite beats a finely crafted level that plays out exactly as intended. Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians falls into the latter category, and showcases this very point, most of the time.
Beatbuddy is a guardian of the musical land of Symphonia. He has been awakened to help his sisters, the other guardians, protect the realm from the evil prince intent on capturing the power of the music for himself. The narrative is cliche through and through but thankfully it is only a framework for Beatbuddy to explore the beautiful land of Symphonia. And is that setting ever beautiful, featuring lush hand-painted environments that really bring the world to life.
As I began my journey, I quickly noticed that while I didn’t necessarily move to the rhythm of the music, the rest of the world did. At first this isn’t of much note as the game eases you into its varied array of game mechanics. But as things begin to ramp up, being able to navigate the environment to the beat of the music becomes essential to the well being of Beatbuddy.
Boiled down to its core, Beatbuddy is a musical platformer. Beatbuddy navigates through environments and much of the platforming is timing based, meaning skillful platformer players will have no problem with the game mechanics. But one won’t be able to get through on platforming skill alone. Being able to figure out environmental puzzles centered around the musical compositions is the other half of the Beatbuddy picture.
Like the game’s mechanics, the puzzles start out pretty simple and straight to the point. As the game progresses, those challenges get more and more complex to the point where some puzzles will be multi-tiered and require solving a piece here, a piece there and then another piece further down the line before being able to advance. Outside of the music, the environmental puzzles are the highlight of the game.
Speaking of the music, Beatbuddy features some stellar musical compositions from artists such as Sabrepulse and the La Rochelle Band. They range from smooth jazzy tunes to dance floor extravaganzas and it is no surprise that the soundtrack will be seeing a separate release. What makes it all work is the integration into the game and how the levels are designed specifically around each track.
Unfortunately intermittent frame rate drops would occasionally throw off my timing on beat specific sequences. While sometimes it was a simple try-it-over-again situation, there were a couple of instances where the hickup put me in a compromising position that caused me to “die”. Thankfully in these rare instances the game’s generous checkpointing system put me right back in the action near where I met my untimely demise. That same checkpoint system can come in quite handy if one doesn’t have more than a few minutes to sit down and play. This is because the levels in Beatbuddy are abnormally long for a platformer, some taking me over 45 minutes to navigate through.
Despite being a beautifully artistic game through and through, it was these small imperfections that ultimately kept me from truly loving it. As a fan of puzzle platformers, Beatbuddy was a great diversion from other, bigger titles, but it never amounted to more than that. And that is a shame. The game has the instruments needed to perform a masterful concerto but it flubs just a few key notes to keep it from becoming an instant classic.
Note: This review was written with material received from the publisher. For more on our review process, please read here.