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Technic Beat
game: Technic Beat
three star
posted by: Steffan Del Piano
publisher: Mastiff
developer: Arika
ESRB rating: E (Everyone)
date posted: 12:00 AM Sat Nov 20th, 2004
last revision: 12:00 AM Sat Nov 20th, 2004

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Technic Beat is Nick Toons on the crack rock.

It's Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds given the Benami treatment.

If Vegas and all of its showgirls made a baby with Hong Kong and all its pocket monsters they'd spawn, undoubtedly, Mastiff's newest game.

Maybe the player is a robot running ridiculously around the top of a child's record player; or a raggedy, debonair teddy bear sporting a swinger's scarf skirting across a turn table; or a futuristic surfer-dude platypus; or maybe he's just Knitty: a plain old little girl with pulsating, asymmetric Princess Leia buns in her hair.

Regardless of whichever scarily imaginative character the player chooses he'll undoubtedly find himself running around the single-screen large level spinning about in hopes of triggering the sounds that sprouting flashing circles play when triggered.  That's what this title's all about: making music by rushing to the next chain of circles and triggering them at the perfect time by having your character spin inside of it.  Of course, you can grab the circle, don it like a hula hoop, and create even larger chain reactions.  But, you probably guessed that already.

In order to understand the gist of Technic Beat you'll have to imagine Dance Dance Revolution without the dance pad.  After the player selects a character she chooses a song to play with.  The song list reads like a Who's Who in a Yu-Gi-Oh! deck; there's Dynamite Egoist, Diamond Troll, and Phone Dead Room which is an epic house? number composed of phones ringing.  Also, a considerable amount of the play list for Technic Beat is comprised of old video game music given a makeover.  There's Sky Kid (done as techno pop), Namco's Assault as a hip hop number, and (my favorite) an unlockable Dig Dug tune.  During game play the character scurries atop a record player in a patterned fashion spinning (your only dance move) at the proper time to set off the next chord of music.  With the right analog stick the player can bend the pitch of the triggered sound; or she can delay it via another trick; or depending on where she's located along a chain of circles the chord will change.

All of this manipulability would be wonderful if the songs and sounds were interesting and enjoyable.  Unfortunately, the game play is as odd as the music is droning.  Technic Beat's songs just aren't as much fun as DDR's Cutie Chaser or Afroman and the like.  What this title lacks is the tongue-in-cheek cheesiness that Konami's Revolution titles flaunt so effectively.  Compared to the polished, produced quality of Benami music, TBeat's tunes are flat and uninspired.  They ping and beep rather than pow and bounce.

The DDR titles work so well because the players becomes the stage and screen; not the flashy arrows and the computer generated dancers they take their cues from.  What Technic Beat does is try to merge the DDR experience with the screen--and that just doesn't seem to work here.

The vivid visuals are as visceral and vivacious as my onslaught of alliteration, though.  One of the prettiest effects is when the player triggers a circle perfectly and a transparent flower blooms out of a now rippling liquid section of the turn table.  Other effects include firefly-like hovering globes and dancing musical notes that scatter like scared rabbits rushing to the edge of the level.  TBeat is a visual spectacle set to bad music.

Perhaps I'm not being fair.

Just recently, I acquired a used copy of Rez (a game which is very similar to Technic Beat in theme, visuals, but not so in gameplay).  Rez is (according to its box) the shooting genre re-invented.?  It also claims that by playing Rez you will, enter a pulsating world of intense sights and sounds, where every beat and sample is synched directly to your actions.?  I don't really believe Rez's big claims per se.  What Rez does so spectacularly, though, is that it gives you the illusion that all of the music that is playing is in synch with your play.  Actually, so much of Rez's music is the layered background beats; comparatively, the noises your actions make are minor.  


Technic Beat's music relies so much upon the user's mastery of the game, though.  When you miss or mess up the music sounds hollow and you're scolded by a tinny bell strike.  When the player is not performing well the music suffers dramatically making it much harder to get back into the rhythm of things.  Perhaps that's how music games should be.  I just don't think so.

TBeat features multiple modes of play.  There's the Arcade Mode, the usual select three or so songs and play the game accordingly.  In Certification Mode you prove that you are a 1-5 star dancer by completing three songs of a particular difficulty.  Sudden Death mode presents the player with a daunting task:  Dance your way up the difficulty levels but if you make even one mistake the game ends immediately.  There are even two multiplayer options wherein you either compete against the second player or work in conjunction with her to create the best tunes.

At fifteen dollars (many stores are advertising TBeat at $14.99) this strikingly original game may be worth the cost if you're looking for a new rhythm/music title for your library.  Games that are this unabashedly unique are a rare breed in today's industry.  Technic Beat is a game which marches proudly to the beat of a different drummer.  I'm just not all that interested in listening to its parade.

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