Music is all around us. It drifts in and out of our lives, piped into elevators, blasted through the stereo systems of passing cars, and idly played on our MP3 players as we go about our day. But how engaged are we with it? For something as remarkable as music, it can easily become another part of the auditory static of the everyday. While some people may take for granted the music in video games, the two mediums have always shared a keen relationship, from the classic 8-bit melodies that have inspired entire genres of music to the explosion of rhythm- and music-based games including 'Rock Band' and 'Guitar Hero.' Today, we'll look at some music-centric games that will make your ears stand at attention.
Rarely has a game's design impressed us as much as 'Record Tripping'
has, as tightly woven music, stimulating visuals, puzzle solving and a visceral control scheme coalesce to create a wholly unique experience. Players begin by learning how to manipulate a virtual record, which they scratch and slow down using their mouse's scroll wheel and left button, respectively. The process is intuitive, and works well enough on its own as a fun diversion, but 'Record Tripping' takes it a step further. The game presents a series of stages in which the mouse not only controls the record (thus allowing you to scratch along to the game's fantastic soundtrack), but also an element of a puzzle that must be solved. For instance, one level has players using the scroll wheel to turn a lock and crack a safe. The game may be short, but trying to beat each challenge in the shortest time possible is a great diversion, especially considering that you'll be scratching along to tunes by the likes of Beck, Gorillaz and Death Cab For Cutie.
' is a neon-colored, frenetic journey with a glorious chiptune
soundtrack, created as a response to BoingBoing's "Games Inspired by Music
" contest (which asked designers to create a game inspired by chiptunes). In 'Beat Boost,' players guide a blue surfer across colored blocks, which are generated by the game's 8-bit soundtrack. Arrow keys are used to maneuver the surfer, who must stay afloat and avoid the ground in order to acquire a high point score. While simplistic in design, any chiptune aficionado would do well to give it a whirl.
' is a serene time waster, one that combines minimal visuals, breezy gameplay and an evocative (if melodramatic) soundtrack. By the careful placement of directional arrows, players manipulate the flow of streaming white light (which represents musical notes) towards boxes. Once struck by light, these boxes produce various portions of a song, such as the piano, string or bass sections. Correctly directing the flow of light to each box, which becomes exponentially more complex as the game progresses, results in the full song being played, accompanied by an elegant light show.
' is less of a game, and more of an ingenious Web-based synthesizer and sequencer. What 'Tone Matrix' does best is make it possible for anyone, regardless of musical skill, to create simple -- yet harmonious -- looping melodies. The tone matrix itself is a 16- by 16-square grid, segmented into 256 boxes. When you click on a box, it becomes active, emitting a tone and setting in motion a 16-step sequence. Sequences are arranged by highlighting various boxes along the vertical axis (which varies their key) and along the horizontal axis (which adjusts where in the sequence a tone will be played). Since all the tones are in the same key, users can create sequences by merely highlighting random boxes, and this often yields surprisingly pretty results.
'Music Catch 2'
'Music Catch 2
' lies somewhere between the realm of game and relaxation tool. Players use a cursor to collect a series of colored shapes that appear in time with the game's piano-based score. Yellow shapes will enlarge the size of your cursor, red shapes will reduce it, and purple shapes will turn your cursor into a vortex that sucks shapes towards it (thus rapidly netting you points). While simple, the game can prove meditative, provided that players can tolerate its new-age soundtrack.