Turn your iPhone into your own personal dance floor.
I have a lot of respect for break-dancers. Well, the good ones at least. Whenever I’ve taken to the dance floor to replicate the moves from a certain Run DMC video, I end up flopping around on the floor like a dying seal. I was born with a remarkable array of talents, but break-dancing it seems, was not one of them. Let me then take this opportunity to give thanks to Mobile Pie, who grant rhythmically challenged folk such as my good self the chance to break-dance without the embarrassment that comes with a real dance floor. B-Boy Beats is rhythm action game where your fingers become your arms and legs, and the iPhone’s touch screen is your own personal dance floor.
Let’s face facts; the rhythm action genre is becoming stale. We know it, and deep down, you do too. Tapping the buttons of plastic instruments in time to music just isn’t as fun as it used to be. With B-Boy Beats, Mobile Pie has turned the conventions of the genre on their head and administered a healthy injection of innovation into the tired genre. The resulting game fuses the core mechanics of rhythm action with a higher degree of manual dexterity, and phat hip-hop beats.
Set in the 1980s Hip-Hop themed streets of New York, a sprawling map plays host to a variety of interesting opponents, all of whom consider themselves God on the dance floor. Big Joe, Jimmy Poindexter and Fatty Smalls, amongst others, will taunt you with their street lingo, forcing you into a dance off where your reputation as a B-Boy is on the line. As the leader of a new break-dance crew, it’s up to you to represent; to win the dance off and claim the turf of your fallen opponent as a prize.
With your index and middle fingers placed in the centre of the screen (dance floor), you’re ready to bust out some sick moves. Pads corresponding to your left foot (index finger) and right foot (middle finger) appear in various places on the screen, which must be tapped in time with the music. Things start off simple, but quickly get more difficult. Instead of lifting your fingers from one pad to the next, some moves require you to slide from one to another. Later on, ‘hand moves’ ask you to swap your index and middle finger for your thumb and ring finger, although the game won't notice if you decide to use other fingers.
A meter at the top of the screen tracks your progress; miss too many pads, and the crowd will start booing. Upset them enough, and you’ll fail the stage. You need to have an ear for rhythm to succeed, as well as some fairly limber finger skills. Perform well enough, and you’ll earn yourself a nice little multiplayer, which will help you reach those elusive high scores. The inclusion of OpenFeint leaderboards ensures you can see how well you’re doing in comparison to the rest of the B-Boy Beats community. As with similar titles, beating high scores is at the heart of the game's hook.
Although the game controls perfectly, the screen often gets obscured as a result of the way the game forces you to positions your fingers. This is particularly annoying when pads appear behind your fingers; all too often I’ve missed a pad as a result of not being able to see it. It's frustrating, and requires you to memorise a song as oppose to react to it. The most effective way to play is to lay the iDevice on a flat surface, but depending on where you are, this often isn’t possible.
You don’t have to be a fan of Hip-Hop to enjoy the game either; the catchy beats that you’ll be tapping away to are fairly inoffensive, and at times you’ll find yourself humming the tunes long after you’ve stopped playing. The art direction is decent enough too, with bold graffiti inspired visuals and comical character designs.
B-Boy Beats isn’t without its flaws, but they are easily forgiven, and quickly forgotten. In a genre that’s held hostage by insipid mechanics and decaying conventions, Mobile Pie have created a game that feels fresh, but at the same time familiar in all the right places. As far as rhythm action games on the App Store go, B-Boy Beats is up there with the best; a trendy, addictive and thoroughly entertaining little app that offers something wholly different in a quagmire of Tap Tap Clones. Word.
- Sound: 8
- Graphics: 7
- Gameplay: 8
- Longevity: 6
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