You may have heard the terms “manic shooter,” “maniac shooter,” or “bullet hell” before. If not, here’s a quick rundown. You control a unit – be it a character or battleship – and have to shoot your way through enemies. Here’s the catch, though: there are a lot enemies, and/or they shoot back, and you had better believe they shoot back with a vengeance. You survive as long as you can, sometimes with bombs to destroy everything on the screen when you get into a tight spot. Think Geometry Wars, or Space Invaders.
The point of Beat Hazard is to play your way through a song of your choice, shooting enemy fighter ships and asteroids that get in your way and gaining as many points as you possibly can. Enemies can drop multiplier bonuses so that you can gain more points per destruction, volume boosters to increase the intensity of your curtain fire, and power boosters to increase your damage.
The game would be simple and boring if it wasn’t for the driving concept behind it. It is the same concept that drives games like Audiosurf. The gameplay really is powered by your music. The intensity of your curtain fire, the number of obstacles you encounter, and the intensity of the visual effects are directly affected by the songs that you play. If you play a relaxed song, you’ll encounter fewer enemies and the visual effects will be easier on your eyes, but you won’t shoot that much, if at all. Likewise, if you play a high beats-per-minute song, you’ll encounter tons of enemies, intense strobes, and your curtain fire will be a stream of destruction.
You can even play this game with a friend. You can go head-to-head with them in the local two-player mode or play a co-op game with them. Make sure you have a controller handy, though; you can’t play with a friend unless they’re physically in the same location.
Graphics and Music:
Following up on the previous statement about strobes and intense visual effects; you will definitely want to avoid this game if you have any sort of issues with bright and/or rapidly flashing lights. The game displays a warning for those who can suffer from photosensitive seizures, so play at your own risk.
Risk factors aside, the graphics are above average. The flashing lights, explosions, and colors of the visual effects changing over time create a spectacular display.
As I stated, the gameplay is powered by your music. You choose the song you want to play, as long as it is an .mp3, .wav, .aiff, .ogg, .mwa, or .flac file. iTunes, .aac, .mp4 and .m4a files are supported via a download for a small fee to cover patented decoder licensing costs (this is the $1.00 add-on that was mentioned earlier). With that said, you ultimately decide how good the game music is.
Overall, Beat Hazard is an excellent pick-me-up game. Sure, it’s not a ninety-nine cent app, but five dollars for a game with replay value as large as your music library is worth it. Even with the add-ons, it’s definitely a bargain. The challenging gameplay powered by your music keeps the game from getting stale.
Gamer TheSpaceMonkey said, “As a game, Beat Hazard does almost nothing wrong. It provides quirky fun with no long term goal other than to allow your music to drive the game. If it's fast, expect fast moving enemies and lots of bullets. It just does its best to reflect the energy of the music.”
Good luck, and have fun!