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Stereo Aereo Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Beyond a few nitpicks, I had a lot of fun with Stereo Aereo. It's not the deepest rhythm game and the whole thing is over too quickly, but it has a charming style and fantastic soundtrack. This is one of those games that is only a sequel or two away from being the must-have music/shooter hybrid people can't stop talking about. They may be a last-minute opening band now, but with a little practice and a lot of luck, Stereo Aereo might be destined for bigger things. Rating: 71%
Stereo Aereo
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  • Review Score:

  • B
The plight of the struggling musician is rarely captured in the world of video games. Sure, you may start out as a garage band in Guitar Hero and Rock Band, but apparently all you need to do is play a few covers and superstardom will come knocking. Rarely do you see the years of playing lousy gigs, the backstage fights and the struggle to get your music heard. Just once I would like to see a game show the unsexy reality of being a rock band in the modern age.

Stereo Aereo certainly isn't what I imagine when I dream of a more grounded music game, but it does manage to capture the drive and determination you see in young bands just looking for their big break. Of course, Stereo Aereo does all this under the guise of a science fiction shoot-em-up; ditching the standard tour bus for a space ship shaped like a fake plastic guitar.


You play a member of Stereo Aereo, a bar band who has been given the opportunity of a lifetime. If they can get to the venue in time, they'll open for the Glam Stars Band at Galaxy Fest on Planet Liquid Metal. This is an important gig the struggling band can't afford to miss, but it seems like everybody from the bar owner to the police are looking to stand in the way of success.

At first glance, Stereo Aereo looks a lot like Guitar Hero and Rock Band. You fly through the linear levels on what looks like a note highway, only instead of strumming colored gems, you're avoiding cars and enemy drones. The idea is to shoot down enemies and move between lanes on the beat, doing your best to avoid taking damage while trying to keep the combo chain alive. It's a tricky balance that often feels like a cross between Audio Surf and Space Invaders.

Everything from the soundtrack to the characters to the music-related references is designed to evoke the spirit of the 1980s. The story has a lot of fun paying homage to some of the biggest rock stars of that era, and it seems to bask in the inherent goofiness that comes with a decade that gave us new wave and acid-washed jeans. This extends to the soundtrack, which uses original compositions instead of licensed songs. We're given an infectious mix of synth-heavy rock songs and guitar-driven metal that will stick in your head long after you beat the game.

For as much as I like the soundtrack, characters and music puns, there are a few things about Stereo Aereo that left me cold. For one thing, I wish the gameplay was a little deeper. There isn't much to the game beyond dodging and shooting, which feels like a missed opportunity. You have ships based on different musical instruments, and yet the best they can do is dodge and shoot? It would have been fun to see some music-related power-ups or a little more variety to the obstacles.

Stereo Aereo (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

It's also worth mentioning that the ending is both abrupt and terribly unsatisfying. Thankfully the varied levels and fun conversations between characters go a long way to make up for this shortcoming, but I couldn't help but feel a bit letdown by the way the story wraps up. On the other hand, there are a number of ships to unlock and high scores to beat, giving you more than enough incentive to replay the adventure multiple times.

I'm also a little disappointed the developers didn't do more with the presentation. This is one of the those games that starts out looking incredibly sharp and then sputters out the longer it goes on. The neon-drenched cityscape from the first stage quickly makes way to a boring outer space level and a desert planet with miles of speakers lining the course. It also would have been nice to see the note highway act more like a real highway, complete with turns and dips. We saw Harmonix do this to great effect in games like Amplitude and Rock Band Blitz, so sticking to the never-wavering straight line is certainly disappointing.

Beyond a few nitpicks, I had a lot of fun with Stereo Aereo. It's not the deepest rhythm game and the whole thing is over too quickly, but it has a charming style and fantastic soundtrack. This is one of those games that is only a sequel or two away from being the must-have music/shooter hybrid people can't stop talking about. They may be a last-minute opening band now, but with a little practice and a lot of luck, Stereo Aereo might be destined for bigger things.
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