There used to be a time when weird Japanese games were never released over here, because they cost too much money to translate and there was never a large enough audience to support these niche titles. But lately this has not been the case, especially on the PlayStation 2. For the last several years companies have gone out of their way to release all kinds of wacky titles that at one time would never have been considered for these shores. And to make these games even more tempting, a lot of them are marked at rock bottom prices, cheaper than even the cheapest big name budget title.
Technic Beats is one such game, a title that oozes with Japanese weirdness. It's a music game that's less expensive than most albums, and one that might actually be worth your while, if you can put up with a few caveats.
Describing Technic Beats may prove to be a difficult task, since it doesn't really play like any other music game. For one thing, you won't have to worry about pushing different buttons at the right time; only one button is used for all the notes. Instead of worrying about the various buttons, you will be able to focus on getting to the notes (which are marked by circles that pop up all over the stage). Once you get to the note you will need to push the activate button on the exact beat, marked by a sound ripple going from the center to the border of the circle. It's your job to push the button at the exact moment the ripple and the border touch, giving you a "perfect" mark if you do it correctly, or a "bad" mark if you're too early or late. This description may sound convoluted, but I assure you, it actually makes a lot of sense when your playing the game.
You control any one of six different characters, ranging from a man with a keyboard on his back to a robot to a little girl with giant headphones. Although this motley crew appears to do the same thing at first, they actually have some qualities unique to their character. Everybody is equipped with a different super move, moves that can only be used a set number of times in a round. These moves are everything from the practical (making the note's circumference larger) to the violent (such as shooting lasers out of your eyes).
Each character is able to move the note around the board, but like the special moves, it's different for every character. Some people can simply pick the note up and walk around with it, while others are forced to kick it to where they want to activate it. By moving the note you can connect it to other notes that are popping up, ultimately leading you to linking a multi-note combination. Getting rid of the notes this way also helps clear the board, so you aren't just running around from note to note.
The game also allows for some, albeit limited, alterations of the notes. By double clicking every note you can extend the note, but it sound more like an echo than a natural extension of the note. You can also manipulate the pitch by using the right analog stick. While I appreciate having this kind of control over the notes, it seemed like a few more could have gone a long way. In the higher levels you'll be spending too much time trying to get all the notes that you'll barely have enough time to fiddle with the pitch or any other fancy modification.
I would say that the various user controlled song alterations sound pretty bad, but I have a hunch a lot of people would argue that the game already sounds pretty bad. Let's face it; the music in this game is not going to be everybody's cup of tea. In fact, saying it's a niche audience might be a bit of an understatement. They are split up into a couple of different groups, original songs and themes from famous Namco games.
Depending on your tolerance for the music, Technic Beats is either a unique new twist on the music genre ... or one of the most annoying games of all time. But beneath the obnoxious songs are a few surprises that might be worth your time and money.
This product was submitted by the publisher for review. As a rule, Defunct Games does not review games we spent money on. However, that does not always apply to classic/retro games. This specific product, however, came straight from a PR guy for the purposes of being reviewed!