Drums Challenge Review—Music-Centric
I think that there is no need to preface this review saying that Drums Challenge is a rhythm game. Drums Challenge is a lot different from the other rhythm games in the Minis program, though, Boom Beats and Vibes, because its core gameplay focuses on “playing” an instrument.
Drums Challenge is beautifully designed, with its “grungy” background art. Though your opponents’ avatars are pixelated and downright unattractive, the game is never about being pretty in the very first place. Instead, this game will make you close your eyes to block out any unneeded distraction.
This was initially an iOS game, where it must have been intriguing to have a control system that allowed you to actually tap on the drum sets. But, of course, this is the PSP; no touching around! Still, the control system of Drums Challenge on the PSP is seriously pretty neat and very comfortable. Every button (including the shoulder buttons) is assigned, throughout every cymbal and drum on a drum kit. You are going to be gripping the PSP firmly with both of your hands because of this.
The game lets you play across different genres on various difficulty settings. You can unlock a level if you are able to “survive” the preceding level. There is only one mode (Career) in Drums Challenge, but included in this mode is Freestyle, so you can drum on your own whenever you want.
When you play the game, the AI demonstrates the rhythm first, and then you follow. There is a bar at the top of the screen that goes from right to left during the AI’s turn and then left to right for your turn, for you to be aware of when to start and stop your turn. Tapping the buttons during the AI’s turn doesn’t affect your score. You can thus practice along with the AI, so that during your turn, it won’t be as difficult.
Your life meter is found at the bottom of the screen. For every “Miss” and “Wrong” judgment, it deteriorates, while every “Perfect”, “Awesome” and probably (I’m not really sure of this one) “Nice” recovers it. So, if you have a bad turn, you can always turn the tide back in your favour the next round. The same goes for your score; “Miss” and “Wrong” are bad news, while the rest are okay to good!
At first, the levels are very easy. Turns just comprise hitting the same button over and over. As you progress, things start to get quite complicated and ridiculous; you really have to practice and practice and practice.
I actually close my eyes as soon as I get the rhythm with my fingers. It is better that way, because I don’t like to get distracted by the visual treat that is this game. Those previously mentioned avatars aside, the graphics are astounding, specifically the drums. It’s not really groundbreaking, but it’s extremely polished. Sound is pleasurable, though some may find the genres questionable. I personally do not care about the genres in this game, since the tracks all sound good and catchy. The controls, indeed, are tight, responsive and comfortable, because the buttons are assigned in relation to the location of the hi-hat/cymbal/drums on the screen.
Drums Challenge, though not the most difficult rhythm game out there, is still challenging. And not only is it really cheap, price-wise, but the ability to chase high scores and the mere pleasure experienced by playing the game add to its appeal and longevity.