Tiny rhythm games are like glorified toe-tapping or dancing with your finger. When there's no room to dance, dance, and revolt, try and flush the fever into your phone with Beatstream.
The masterminds at Smule, who created Magic Fiddle, Magic Guitar, I Am T-Pain, Ocarina 2, and many other standout music apps, attempt to channel this power of synchronicity into the iPhone and iPad with Beatstream ($1), which transforms your own music library into a rhythm-based videogame.
Beatstream has a fairly simple concept: Pick a song from your Music library, and the app create a unique game based on its beat and song structure. As the song plays, a two-sided arrow (one side blue, the other yellow) travels along a track.
Blue and yellow barriers corresponding to the beats are scattered along the track; to torpedo through them, you have to match the color of your arrow to the color of the barrier. Tapping anywhere on the screen flips the arrow to the desired color. The background color continuously changes with the beat as well, adding to the game’s intensity and difficulty.
Unfortunately, the song selection process exposed the app’s major flaw: inconsistency. While the game adapted well to certain songs, its audio analysis missed the mark completely on others. In those instances, it just felt like we happened to be listening to a butchered version of a song we used to like while randomly tapping the screen. However, when it works, it really works.
This is almost like a more or less DIY version of Sound Play—one of the many crossroads of music and gaming where we find ourselves.