Like any great piece of music, Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians simply needs to be heard and experienced.
"[Beatbuddy] is an action-platformer meets music game," said Reverb Publishing's executive producer Ted Lange. "By no means is it a music game that would be in the music genre. The way I would describe it would be, what Lumines did to add music to puzzle games, this game is adding to platformers."
The title character, Beatbuddy, is an ethereal underwater creature from the land of Symphonia. He sets out to keep the music of the world free from the tyrannical Prince Maestro, who seeks to control all music for himself.
Beatbuddy contains six different worlds, each with a distinctive theme, color palette, and style of music. Each track is made by different composers, including Journey's Austin Wintory, Chime's Sabrepulse, and Austrian artist Parov Stelar. Each world is filled with delicately hand-painted art, textures, and layers, creating a gorgeous sense of depth perception.
As I started exploring Beatbuddy's first level, I could already see the clever symmetry between level design and music. Many of the world's creatures would represent a different instrument. For example, crabs rhythmically tapping the ground would represent a hi-hat, while pulsing flowers would represent a bass drum. Disrupting any of these creatures would cause the audio track to change accordingly, but the music becomes distorted any time Beatbuddy gets hit by spikes or other harmful objects.
Many of the puzzles that I bumped into fit into the game's rhythm theme. Floating bubbles would change color and become impassable at certain points, unless I hit the right button to boost to the beat of the music. Other puzzles involved picking up objects and placing them on top of switches to open new areas or lining up bouncing platforms to break through walls.
Beatbuddy's other main gameplay mechanic is the Bubble-Buggy. This underwater vehicle carries a gun that allows Beatbuddy to clear out obstacles and enemies, but can only move to the beat of the music. The Bubble-Buggy controls a little differently than Beatbuddy, as the Bubble-Buggy relies more on precise analog stick movement. Despite some awkward movements, the learning curve was still fairly simple.
Beatbuddy is a cool new take on action-platformers, with a novel approach. It's beautiful to look at and the music is toe-tappingly infectious. With the music as engaging as it is, I didn't feel the need to rush through any of the stages and I actually felt encouraged to play around with the world. However, Price made sure to note that Beatbuddy's design would make it ideal for speed runs. In fact, those that wish to challenge themselves can try and beat the game's target times (ranging at about 20 minutes or so) to earn unlockables, such as concept art.
Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is set for PC, Mac, and Linux on August 6th.