We're checking out the latest offerings from a couple
recognizable names in the world of console gaming this week: VidRhythm, the
wacky video creation from Rock Band developer Harmonix, as well as DrawRace 2
HD, a touchscreen-oriented racer from Trials HD creator RedLynx. Elsewhere,
we're tackling an alluring music-addled puzzle game called Radballs, as well as
checking out the second in the series of Serious Sam-inspired indie games, Kamikaze
Attack! Most of these are universal apps – aside from DrawRace 2, which has
separate iPad and iPhone apps – so one download will let you play on any
compatible iOS device. Check 'em out!
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US / UK
VidRhythm is not a game,
which makes it a curious anomaly in the history of this weekly feature, as well
as the long and impressive background of creator Harmonix – you know, the
studio that spawned Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Dance Central, and Karaoke
Revolution. Harmonix has an amazing knack for creating innovative and exciting music-related
products, and VidRhythm continues that theme on the much smaller scale of a
two-dollar universal iPad and iPhone app. Is the developer's first commercial non-game
as notable as those aforementioned experiences? Not in the slightest. But for
all that the studio has served up over the years, we'll happily check out their
other ventures if it'll keep 'em rocking out for years to come.
Depending on how you
choose to wield VidRhythm’s abilities, it's either a force for amusement or annoyance.
The app grabs quick video clips of whatever's in view – your face, a pet, etc.
– along with a brief voice clip as detailed, whether it's a drum-like sound or a
hummed note. You'll choose one of 20 featured songs, including sped-up
classical tunes and original compositions from within Harmonix, as well as a
visual theme, with options inspired by past studio releases and other general
themes like cats and colorful icons. Then simply press a button and watch the
app transform your various choices into one goofy video that can be uploaded
and shared online.
If you'd like to see some
nightmarish examples of what happens when you mix the feline theme with human
facial reactions, don't hesitate to search for "VidRhythm" on
YouTube. It's hard not to admire the app’s ability to immediately translate
bite-sized recordings into something lightly amusing you'll want inflict upon
friends and family. Before iPhones (and later iPads) were so widely owned, it
was easier to be wowed by the things these touchscreen wonders could do.
VidRhythm is a welcome throwback to that time, so don't overthink its long-term
worth; just drop a couple bucks and get weird with us already.
Buy it now from the iTunes store: US / UK
"Radballs" is an
awesome term, and Radballs also happens to be a neat iOS puzzle game. The game
is all about matching like-colored balls and clearing them from the screen, but
this superbly presented app takes its cues from a variety of sources,
especially Bejeweled and Lumines. The latter favorite comes to mind due to the
inclusion of a moving line (set to the beat of the music) that clears
bunched-up balls – but it's also a notable influence on how damn slick the
audio and visuals are in this iPad and iPhone offering.
This hodgepodge of
familiar elements from top genre entries may not feel quite as polished,
balanced, or addictive as its influences, it's definitely intriguing. Colored
balls drop onto the playing field, where you shift balls around (one at a time)
to pair up four or more like colors into squares or rectangles. Such blocks are
cleared when the moving line passes through, which earns you points to fill
your Radness meter and clear the stage, but Radballs adds in a fresh mechanic
where you can grab the line and scratch it like a record to earn extra points. With
power-ups that detonate or electrically clear large chunks of balls, you'll
encounter several ways to earn enough Radness to clear each stage.
Born from '80s-inspired
design flash, Radballs looks like a million bucks thanks to its eight distinct
skins which toss up uniquely styled and colored balls, as well as themed
iconography like palm trees and shutter shades. The soundtrack includes some
fabulously thumping remixes of recent OK Go singles and other original
electronic tracks from Neil Voss, who composed the Tetrisphere and The New
Tetris OSTs way back when. Better yet, you can use your own DRM-free music to
propel the puzzle action, which adds a new twist to the on-screen antics.
Radballs may be like a Frankenstein's monster of existing puzzle ideas, but we
can't help but be hooked by the excellent aesthetics.