GamesMaster 64Back when I was a lad and the concept of a PlayStation 2 hadn’t crossed our little minds (but the N64 was all that mattered anyway) I used to read GamesMaster.

It wasn’t quite as fancy and in-depth as PC Gamer but then again it also didn’t cost the Earth. It was light-hearted, but fun, and didn’t take itself too seriously. It also didn’t talk down to me or feel polished to a cheesy smile. Well, back then it didn’t. Later they changed the look and I stopped reading as a result. That made me sad. It taught me the phrase “rarer than hens’ teeth” (in an article about Duke Nukem 64, in reference to the Holoduke item).

Anyway, I’m not sure if I’m getting it confused with PC Gamer but I’m fairly sure one of its criteria when reviewing games was “sound”. I didn’t really see the point.

The thing is that for me sound in games is usually fairly irrelevant. Sure, I notice when it’s really bad, but most of the time that’s all there is to it.

That said I actually really like when sound and music are used as a core game mechanic. When a suitable art style is employed to bring things together it can be a really, well, not tactile, but that sort of thing. The sound ceases to be decoration, as it were.

The prime example for me is Rock Band. Without audio it’s basically just a puzzle game. That said the art style doesn’t get in the way of the audio. Interestingly Guitar Hero wasn’t as good for this – it had a great look to it but it interfered with my appreciation of the music.

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I hoped to enjoy Beat Hazard hoping for a similar integration. Nope. The art style there was too much and the game mechanics required too much concentration. The music seemed incidental at best.1340677-beat_hazard_006

The thing that prompted me to write this post was Crypt of the Necrodancer. It’s a Rogue-like that uses rhythm-based gameplay. Having watched the video I must say I’ve no real interest in it, but the idea behind it intrigues me. Perhaps I shall have to design something else using the integration of rhythm.

Until then I think I’ll have to stick to Rock Band. I really want something else that lets me feel like I’m part of the music. Listening to it on its own simply doesn’t cut it – I want to do the videogame equivalent of sing along. That is to say interact with it in a way that uses the music as a foundation for player agency and enjoyment.

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