Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians

Beatbuddy-boxart
7.5 Overall Score
Presentation: 9/10
Story: 6/10
Gameplay: 7/10

Outstanding Soundtrack | Excellent Art Direction

Tight but Uninspiring Controls and Gameplay | Confusing 2.5D Layering

Written by on August 13, 2013 in [, , , , ]

I first encountered Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians at PAX East earlier this year. I was taking photographs of people in cosplay for the site and I was approached by a large blue being I didn’t recognize. Of course, I asked if I could take their picture, and Beatbuddy’s handler negotiated that I come see what they were about in exchange. Five minutes later I was approaching the booth of Beatbuddy’s creator, Threaks. While I waited for my chance to play this new indie game, I struck up a conversation with one of the game’s creators, Wolf Lang.

Beatbuddy and Wolf Lang

Threaks is a new independent developer out of Hamburg Germany. Originally started by “Three Freaks” (hence “Threaks”) in 2009, they came together to further develop a concept they put together while they were students. This concept was fleshed out, and Beatbuddy was born.

In Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians you play as Beatbuddy, an etherial creature on the planet Symphonia. Beatbuddy is awakened from his (hypothetically eternal) slumber because the antagonist, Prince Maestro, is fixing to take over the world. You, your sisters Harmony and Melody, and your friend Clef work together to stop Maestro from succeeding in his terrible mission.

BeatBuddy Start

Structurally, Beatbuddy is a puzzle action platformer set in an underwater environment. Unsurprisingly, music plays a heavy role in the various gameplay elements. There are six songs in Beatbuddy, each one serving as the background music for a different level in the game. As you progress through each world you encounter different environmental effects, obstacles, and enemies whose tendencies are in line with the background music. “Bass drums” (they look like underwater marigolds, if that makes sense) pulsate with the bass beat, firing you off like a cannon if you’re in front of them when the beat drops. “Snare streams” pulsate to the snare beat of the song, requiring you to zip past the streams on the beat or risk taking damage. Other creatures like the “hi-hat crabs” employ similar beat based tendencies to foil your progress.

Beatbuddy Pipe Puzzle

I don’t want to spell out all of the elements of the game, but I found it charming and remarkable just how well the Threaks team was able to incorporate music into the puzzle platforming experience. The puzzles offered sufficient diversity so I never felt I like I was playing through regurgitated challenges with swapped color palettes.

Speaking of color palettes, the worlds are beautifully hand painted and wonderfully distinct. There is a definitively organic feel to most of the game, with many richly colored textures overlaying the screen to provide the illusion of depth. It is in these layers, truthfully, that Beatbuddy hits its biggest flaw. I felt every time I swam behind something in the foreground I discovered something I couldn’t see, whether a bass drum, beat points, or actual enemies. The way the layers meshed together some of the paths appeared blocked when they actually weren’t. It got a little confusing sometimes to figure out where I was supposed to go. It wasn’t a game breaker, but it was a little obnoxious at times.

Finally, the music. It is perfectly reasonable to expect a game with “Beat” in the title has great music at its core, and Beatbuddy delivers. I frequently found myself bouncing up and down in my seat or nodding my head to the beat while I played. Beatbuddy features the work of some well known and regarded video game and\or electronica artists like Austin Wintory (Journey), Parov Stelar, Sabrepulse (Chime Super Deluxe) and La Rochelle Band.

Beatbuddy Barrier

I’ve already mentioned the environmental pieces that add to the musical background. There are a few little touches I noticed the Threaks team added to Beatbuddy really help to flesh out the experience, like Beatbuddy dancing to the music when left idle, or his headphones sinking sadly to the ocean floor when he dies. I acknowledge these are minor, but they show the attention to detail and the care Threaks put into making the game complete. There were more little touches, but I’ll leave you to explore and find them on your own.

Both Threaks and Beatbuddy are comfortable being what they are. Throughout the game you collect small jewels called as beat points. These points do nothing but reward you with extras when you collect all of the points on each level. These extras are accessible in the menu system and tell the story of the development of Beatbuddy through some very funny captioned images of the development team. In looking through these images it is clear the team at Threaks doesn’t take things too seriously and enjoys what they do. Their firstborn game, Beatbuddy, carries that perspective forward. It may be this comfortable and casual approach that makes this game endearing to me. Beatbuddy is goofy and fun, amusing and adorable, and a refreshing alternative to most of the games available on today’s market.

Beatbuddy Webs

Beatbuddy is out now on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux with a list price of $14.99. For a limited time, Threaks and Reverb are offering it at a 10% discount. For the 5 or so hours of gameplay Beatbuddy offers, 14.99 is a little high, but $13.49 is about right.

I acknowledge I have a little bit of a soft spot for the charming and somewhat self deprecating style of Beatbuddy, but I really did enjoy the game, and I think you will too.

A copy of  Beatbuddy:Tale of the Guardians was provided to The Married Gamers for review.

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Author: Andrew Smith View all posts by

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