by Johnathan Irwin
reviewed on PC
Life in the 1980's
Okay, so I only lived one week for myself in the 80's. But it still counts, it makes me an “80's baby!”. I can say that I lived for one week in arguably one of the most defining decades of western culture. The horrible fashion trends, the rise of gas guzzling sports cars falsely marketed as eco friendly, seeing an actor become the president of the USA. More Schwarzenegger movies than you could shake a stick at, recreational drugs surging as the 'cool' thing to do in a way they hadn't since the 60's. But the most iconic thing about the 1980's lives on even still today: the music (How about the birth of personal computers? - Ed). The different genres of the 80's had such an iconic tone to them that I'd honestly rather listen to that decade's worth of music over much of the content spewed out over the last few years.
When I heard about Stereo Aereo, a game that's literally everything that was the 80's blurred into a rhythmic shooter like Audiosurf, I was all about trying it out. So is it everything good about the 80's? Or something best left in the past?
Game To The Music
If you've played Audiosurf, you already have a rough idea of what you're getting into here. Players guide a ship (this time styled like one of three guitars) across several 'lanes' and avoid obstacles set to the music in the background. The major difference this time is plain to see, as the obstacles take the form of other ships and the background of the levels are extremely vibrant settings that fit the over-saturated coloration of the decade that was.
The game is split up between two modes, Story and Arcade. The Story follows the band Stereo Aereo on their mission to open for a much more popular band than themselves, thus securing their potential spot of fame and fortune. Throughout the story, they are continuously hounded by a blast-on-sight fleet of police cruisers. To be fair, Stereo Aereo has a horrible habit of flying against the flow of traffic, and their complete disregard for the safety of others kind of has that coming for them I suppose.
Arcade mode is self explanatory, in that it's essentially the story mode but with more focus on just playing the game rather than the downtime of the silly (yet fitting) plot. I do have to give a quick nod to the boss battles; unexpected but rather enjoyable once I got passed the frustration of returning to the days of lane-lock and trying to avoid incoming attacks.
Music Is The Star
While the gameplay is basic, it's solid. It does what it's supposed to do, engages the player in a series of challenges while having good response times to input, and being enjoyable to play. But I don't necessarily find the gameplay to be the selling point here. To me, it's the music.
Have you ever played the Impossible Game? The most frustrating platformer ever, but it was set to really catchy music that encouraged you to push onward. Stereo Aereo is like that, minus wanting to break something. The music from level to level captures an essence of both 80's synth heavy pop and rock, and while I think it should've had at least one Phil Collins reference in the form of a barely-avoiding-copyright-infringement track, what's there is still awesome.
Okay, so I didn't live through enough of the 80's to say I -really- lived through it. But I sure do enjoy all the entertainment media it put out that can still be enjoyed today. Stereo Aereo is rather a fun rose-tinted game that takes a simple, tried and true gameplay style and combines it with catchy tunes that will have you nodding your head as you play along. If you have a bit of spare change burning money in your wallet, you can't say no to a little 80's indulgence.
Simple, but effective gameplay; extremely catchy music
Having two modes is unnecessary, on-rails boss battles can prove frustrating