Drums Challenge Review—Music-Centric

Drums_Challenge_01

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.

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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.

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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.

8.5/10

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Comments

19 Responses to “Drums Challenge Review—Music-Centric”
  1. onmode-ky says:

    “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.”

    Inspired by the Knight Industries Two Thousand, no doubt. :)

    What does unlocking a level give you? If you’re already trying to survive it, it’s presumably already available for play. So, what’s getting unlocked?

    Incidentally, I foresee djax asking a question in the comments section.

  2. djax clone says:

    Does it have a high score table?

  3. djax says:

    OMG my clone :-o :-) :-D , but with important question :-) .

  4. @onmode-ky: what’s getting unlocked is the next level.

    @djax (/clone): there’s no high score table as such, but the highest score for each challenge gets saved, along with the corresponding medal (bronze, silver, gold, perfect). They appear in the main menu when you browse challenges.

  5. onmode-ky says:

    Thanks, Yan. Clarified the text.

  6. djax says:

    Is possible to play game with sound off? I have allways sound off on my PSP…

  7. AntBond says:

    Yes, if you tap the minus buttons at the bottom of the psp, the sound will eventually go off.

  8. confuletlyf says:

    Are there on screen prompts for when to hit each button, or we required to maintain rythm ourselves? I’m always a half beat behind in rythm games, almost perfectly one half beat… I must have a tumor o.0
    back to the point, The screen shots don’t look like you’re given any cues.

  9. onmode-ky says:

    Based on the trailer for the game, there are on-screen cues. However, since they flash right at the time you’re supposed to be hitting the instrument, they will probably not help you play–more like they’ll show you what you’ve just missed.

  10. @confuletlyf: on-screen cues appear just-in-time (as mentioned by onmode-ky). There is no visual timeline. This is what differentiates Drums Challenge from most other rhythm games: it revolves around listening and memorizing rather than reading. The good point is that it *will* train you to play in rhythm!

    @djax: the game is not intended to be played without sound. I guess you could try – and perhaps succeed – but it would add a lot to the difficulty. Good luck :) .

  11. djax says:

    I have another “music” game – Boom Beats, this game I play without sound with no problems.

  12. onmode-ky says:

    djax, why not just get a set of earphones or headphones?

  13. djax says:

    I have three childrens, I play when they sleep, and I must listen it…

  14. onmode-ky says:

    Play using only one earphone, so that you can hear the game with one ear and hear any environmental sounds with the other?

  15. djax says:

    Yes, it could be solution of my problem.

  16. jan says:

    where can i get this game?

  17. Toshko says:

    LOL from where to download this game?

  18. pjva says:

    this is my 1st comment here and i’m glad that such website like this exist… im not new to the psp games but i’m not really familiar with psp minis…

    now that i have purchased my 1st PSN load ever…
    i thought psp minis are not worth it, but thanks for the informative reviews… i’ll be definitely getting this game drums challenge + age of zombie + space shooter worth 2 bucks… then i’ll read more from your reviews if i can spot another game worth to buy…

    btw i love playing in a band (i play bass guitar) so the fact that this game can create your own music or your own beat… is a killer for me! just like a mini version of beaterator ;)

  19. Ben says:

    at certain points the game expects you to press the X and Traingle buttons simultaneously. I don’t think I will be getting the game now that I know this. I’m wondering why the review doesn’t mention it.

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