by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
Hating Music in Accapella
As a musician, I'm a sucker for a good rhythm game. However, I just become all the more disappointed when a game isn't as good as it could've been. BeatBlasters III is one such game. The core is in place for something interesting, but the execution is a little off across the board. It's a mixture of action and timed button presses, and is fairly unique in its scope, but it rarely goes anywhere interesting with it.
Don't ask me about the name either. There aren't two other games with the same name. I'm guessing it's something to do with the three abilities you use, but I could be wrong. Anyway, you play as either Gina or Joey in a town called Accapella. The local butcher hates music for some reason, so it's up to these hip, headphone wearing kids to save the day. That means helping out the residents of the town with whatever they've got going on in a series of seemingly unlinked missions. The story seems random and tacked on and you'll probably have a better time with the game if you just take everything as it comes.
Scene Stealing Beasts
At least the character design is pretty good. I particularly liked the polar bear wearing shades and the monkey who constantly looked like he couldn't care less about the entire situation. In fact they put the boring human characters to shame. These unexplained anthropomorphised animals are another reason you just have to kinda go with it. Each level takes place in a new setting as the duo attempts to make their way back to the butcher after being kicked out of town. Whoever you choose, you'll be using the same basic abilities. You can fire a projectile (which is upgraded by doing well in levels), use your speed boots to move quicker and jump higher, and activate a bubble shield around you. The differences between each character are in their special abilities. I spent the majority of the game playing as Gina, but it turned out that I much preferred Joey's special. You live and learn.
You'll be using all of these abilities to complete each objective. For example you might be defending a group of Accapella inhabitants from encroaching enemies by firing projectiles at them, all the while blocking incoming attacks using your shield. Other times you might be moving objects around with your shield by repelling them, in order to move them towards, or away from other people. Each time you use an ability, it drains some of its meter, and this is where the rhythm element comes in. To recharge you'll have to hit the corresponding button in time with the music. It becomes a balancing act, as you won't be able to use abilities while recharging, so you'll have to pick a moment of quiet to start doing so. Your fingers are constantly moving, either using abilities or recharging them, so it's a good thing that each level is reasonably short to prevent the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome.
That shortness extends to the whole game, though. I completed all missions in just 107 minutes according to my Steam play time information. I didn't get the maximum three stars for each level, but nor is there any real need to. You'll be able to upgrade your blaster by gaining more stars, but there aren't any new challenges to use it on. You unlock the Insane difficulty setting after beating the game, but the game is challenging enough on normal and easy in my opinion. Particularly on some levels where the difficulty seems to swing wildly. It's also not always clear what exactly your objective is. Poor grammar in a lot of dialogue boxes don't help in this regard. And there is one boss battle in particular that just takes way too long when compared to other levels. Even the final battle against the butcher didn't give me as much trouble. This level highlighted a problem with the sound settings, which apparently don't apply to the Game Over screen. I dreaded the impending deafening I would receive whenever I didn't complete an objective.
Could have been better...
It doesn't help that the soundtrack isn't particularly good. It's a hodgepodge of modern electronic music that's just not very original and lacks any sense of unique style. When you use abilities it layers more sounds over the top which is a nice touch, but if you start using them in quick succession it just plays the same loop over and over which is a bit jarring. The songs mostly don't seem to fit in with the theme of each level, which is a shame since each level is different, at least aesthetically.
BeatBlasters III is short lived, but even in that small amount of time, the action became a bit repetitive. There's not much of a sense of progression other than moving forward through the barely explained story. The game features a mix of gameplay styles which is rarely tried, and I applaud developer Chainsawesome Games for it. However, some more variety is needed and the soundtrack is lacking, where in a rhythm based game it should be the most important thing. If there's a sequel (BeatBlasters IV? BeatBlasters III-2?), hopefully these things will be remedied.
A unique blend of action, platforming and rhythm.
Mechanics become repetitive. Soundtrack is bland. Very short.