This Game You Should Play: Beat Hazard

Seizure inducing for the win

Pictures do not do this game justice. Beat Hazard by Cold Beam Games is a new entry in the music as game genre. You essentially fly a ship that shoots down anything that moves a la Geometry Wars. The catch? It’s all created by your music.

The Audiosurf of 2010

How does it work? Each song is a game. The game reads certain characteristics of your own music and then relays that as enemies on screen, their frequency, and the rate or power of your ship’s own guns. What this does is makes each song unique but each song plays exactly the same. Usually upbeat tempo (think trance) songs work best because there’s a lot of action. Sometimes it’s too much–it’s a blast. Have a song that crescendos? So does the action on screen. Is there a quiet pause after that crescendo? Uh, oh. A lot of enemies and no force behind your pea-shooter of a weapon. However, all is not lost.

Added brilliance

Instead of being a typical shooter there are a couple of neat innovations:

  • Shooting some enemies nets a POW reward. This in turn powers up your ship’s weapon.
  • Some enemies release VOL. This increases your songs volume and also draws more enemies to the screen thereby increasing your chance for failure and glory.
  • Little +1 symbols net you a score multiplier. (Oh, this game is all about points and rank.)
  • You can also protect yourself during the quiet lulls of the song by using bombs. They are a mechanic that is in every shooter: everything on screen is destroyed.
  • Your music generates bosses. Have fun with multiple bosses.
  • Of course, there are leaderboards. Always a win. Ranks too. Cumulative ranks. The higher you are the more perks you have at the beginning of each song.
  • Achievements.

Blue Light Special

So, where do we get it? It’s on Steam for $10 and can be had on XBLA indie for 400 MS points. The XBLA version is cheaper but there are a few more features (nothing major) with the PC version. The Steam version can be played with a mouse/keyboard combo or an 360 controller (only–but there are some simple workarounds for this).

Honestly, there are some songs that cause so much chaos on screen you have no idea what’s going on, but you do know what to do. It’s the best feeling to have your ship survive a huge onslaught of enemies, pulsing lasers, and seizure-inducing light effects.