Beats Slider Review—Bad Beats, Better Sliders
In today’s world of remakes, HD re-releases, and ripoffs, I sometimes wonder whether it’s really true that all games deserve another chance. A quick look at the Minis selection tells me that we’re perhaps beating a dead horse. Haven’t we played enough match-3 games? How many versions of solitaire until we perfect the genre? When will Qix reach its prime?
Slide puzzles have definitely been overdone on iOS and touchscreen devices, and aside from a few simple gimmicks, there haven’t been many efforts to inject the genre with any innovation. FuturLab’s taken a stab at the slide puzzle genre with Beats Slider, a PSM launch title along with their other inexpensive game, Fuel Tiracas. Unlike Fuel Tiracas, though, most of Beats Slider’s ideas aren’t exactly unique.
The problem with slide puzzles is that there isn’t much to do with them in the first place. At its core, a slide puzzle will always be a slide puzzle: a whatever-by-something grid of squares with just one missing, where your job is to slide them back into place to form a picture. In Beats Slider, though, you aren’t forming pictures. You’re forming music, or at least that’s what the game would have you believe.
In theory, this should entail that each level sounds radically different and evolves dramatically over the course of play, but in practice, the “songs” that form the soundscapes of each level are bleepy, repetitive loops that wear down more quickly than the puzzles can be solved. The beat always sounds crisp, and bass notes are deep and full, but the mid- to high-level lead synths are tiresome and irritating.
If for some reason you’re more interested in the disappointing musical aspect of the game, there is a remix mode worth a passing mention. However, the scattershot randomness of rearranged musical notes sounds unpleasant, and the lack of visual aids to indicate musical notation makes the mode nothing more than a fleeting distraction.
I like slide puzzles, actually, but they’ve always come too easily to me. I slide around a few blocks quickly, recognize some basic patterns and burn through them like it’s a competition. Obviously, that’s not the case for everyone, and FuturLab’s tutorials aim to teach the basic ideas of solving slide puzzles. Like the main gimmick, though, this effort also falls flat. The deepest lesson they teach is to solve the puzzles from corner-to-corner, but compared to my preferred top-to-bottom approach, it feels labourious and unnecessary. To top it all off, the game doesn’t even offer a single pointer for the more advanced rearranging needed to fit in those last few pieces, which is what frustrates most new players.
All things considered, Beats Slider is a fine slide puzzle game, as they go. Most importantly for a visually-oriented puzzle game, it’s got great clean visuals. Even if its ideas don’t elevate the genre, the game is an easy sell for anyone who enjoys these sorts of puzzles, especially at its asking price of 79 cents.