Thereís only one videogame genre where something like a rapping dog, goofy-looking dancing and various other oddities is acceptable: the rhythm/music genre. Technic Beat bursts onto the scene with a whole slew of strange things, such as a penguin that waddles around a dance floor, a funky life-size teddy bear, and visuals seemingly plucked out of an acid trip done right. But that isnít all Technic Beat provides. It also comes packed with plenty of simple, addictive fun as well.
When you first start up Technic Beat, youíll understandably be a little confused. There seems to be a lot going on considering the all of the crazy pyrotechnics and attractive psychedelic stages. After going through the excellent tutorial, youíll see how simplistic the gameplay really is.
Essentially, you control a character that has to move around on small square-shaped stage. Thereís music playing in the background, and circles appear where the beats and rhythms are supposed to be in the song. You move your character to the circle, and then activate it when the circle lights up, thus making the background music sound better. Thatís the basic gist of things anyways.
Just because the game is simple to learn doesnít mean it doesnít have any depth. Thereís a variety of techniques that makes things feel as fast-paced and intense as the music. First of all, each character has a unique way in picking up each circle and moving them. Overlapping objects becomes an almost necessary technique on the later stages. Also, when thereís a chain of circles connected, you can change the tone depending on where you start the chain. The use of the right analog stick modifies the pitch, so thereís plenty of ways to customize your groove, and thereís even the ability to show it to all of your friends with savable replays (a very cool feature).
So Technic Beat just sounds like a game where you move a goofy-looking character from circle to circle, but if you stop paying close attention to the circles and let the music take over youíll see thereís more to it. On the more difficult stages, just focusing on the many circles popping up will make things nearly impossible. Instead, just listen to the music, and try to pick out the beat. It sounds stupid, but itís actually quite satisfying to nail a difficult segment using that technique.
Being a port of an arcade game, Technic Beat features all the standard modes, such as arcade and sudden death. Fortunately, there are a couple other modes that add more to the game. The Level Certification mode simply makes your characters level up depending on how well they perform. Itís doesnít really do anything, aside from provide bragging rights. Fortunately, the challenge mode adds some actual goals that this genre lacks. There are dozens upon dozens of individual challenges, and a percentage keeps track of exactly how much of it you have done.
Technic Beat also provides some of the best two-player action around. It doesnít really add anything new to the genre, itís just the gameplay seems especially suited for more than one player. Frantically running around the screen, trying to activate the circles usually results in hectic, competitive fun.
If the many modes wonít keep you busy, then the 85 different songs most certainly will. Having a decent soundtrack is the true mark of a decent rhythm/music game, and surprisingly Technic Beat boasts quantity and quality. Most of the tunes are remixes from various Namco classics, such as Pac-Man, Dig Dug and many more titles, most of which has become quite obscure. It would have been nice to seen some tunes from more recent games (Tekken anyone?), but at least all the music fits the gameplay well, whether itís based on a Namco game or not.
A full-priced game, Technic Beat would be an ok investment. However, this is an inexpensive budget title, and because of this Technic Beat would probably be a worthwhile investment for most fans of the genre, though people who never liked rhythm/music games wonít change their minds because of this one. But hey, who knows? Maybe the awesome remix of the Pac-Man theme will change their minds. Thatíd be groovy.
Eight out of ten