Through a process that seems like magic (but what is simply ingenious programming code), Audiosurf analyzes any song the player chooses and creates a unique 3D level out of it. The level’s shape and speed are determined by various factors such as the song’s tempo, melody, instruments, vocals, and more. Ride Your Music is an apt slogan for this unique rhythm based puzzle game.
Audiosurf – Match 3 Colors on Music-based Levels
After loading up Audiosurf, players are prompted with the option to select a track. For those with limited music libraries, Valve includes the entire The Orange Box soundtrack (which includes music from Half Life 2, Team Fortress, and Portal).
But for those of us with music libraries that stretch the capacity of a 30 gig iPod or Zune, The Orange Box soundtrack simply serves as a demo of its true capacity. Audiosurf can play any song from virtually any format.
After selecting a song, the game will automatically analyze various aspects of the track, and craft a fully three dimensional level. Since the speed is measured by the song, players can only move left or right between several columns using either the keyboard’s directional arrows, or by moving the mouse left or right.
While the player’s spaceship floats forward, various colored boxes slide down the track similar to Guitar Hero or Rock Band. By moving the spaceship into the colored box, the color will be stored in that column. By collecting three of the same color all next to one another, the colors will disappear and the player will receive points.
Warmer colors such as red and yellow appear during tense moments during the song and are worth more points, while cooler colors such as blue and purple appear during more frequently during calm moments and as such are worth less points.
A larger combination will yield much more points, and several powerups assist the player in creating large color clusters. Each song has its own unique difficulty, and the player can shoot for high scores on online leaderboards (tracked by the song’s tag info), or simply shoot for bronze, silver, and gold medals.
Ride Your Music
The real question is not how it works, but how well does it work. The answer to that question is: surprisingly well. Each song played in Audiosurf is unique, and simply trying out different songs from various genres is an adventure in and of itself.
When playing Can’t C Me by 2Pac, Audiosurf offers a bumpy ride with numerous tunnels to accenuate intense moments in the song. When playing The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi, Audiosurf creates a rollercoaster ride of sorts, with some calm uphill moments, followed by intense downhills and tunnels.
Songs with heavy beats such as rap and techno will offer a bumpy ride similar to a whitewater rafting trip, with numerous colors to collect, while songs featuring mostly strings and vocals with less obvious beats and bass create a smoother, calmer gameplay experience.
The full game comes packed with numerous different “characters” (or modes, some of which are co-op), spanning across three different difficulty levels. Players who simply want to absorb the music and visuals should stick with the casual, while players that want to conquer a tough challenge and reach for high scores can give the tougher difficulty modes a shot.
Rock Out in Fun, Multiplayer Jam Sessions for Wii Consoles
Nintendo is famous for making fun family games that get a person mentally engaged and (thanks to the Wii) physically active. Wii Music provides both of these things, using the controller and nunchuck to turn even inexperienced musicians into virtual virtuosos.
Four main activity areas in the Wii Music Game:
Lessons – Learn how to play the virtual instruments found in Wii Music. There are sixty different instruments from xylophones and drum sets to guitars, trumpets, and clarinets. As more activities are completed more instruments are unlocked including electronic instruments and special effects dog and cat sounds.
Games – There are three mini-games included with Wii Music. The first is titled Wii Maestro where the player uses the controller as a virtual baton to conduct an orchestra of Mii’s. Speeding up or slowing down the motions alters the tempo of the music, and several fun surprises are thrown in that young players absolutely love. There is also a Rock Band style “Handbell Harmony” game where each player takes control of two tuned handbells, ringing them when their color scrolls across the screen. In Pitch Perfect players use their ear to solve musical puzzles.
Jam Sessions – In the jam sessions Wii Music players can choose to be either a soloist or a member of a five piece combo. Select an instrument, choose from one of sixty songs to play, select a venue to play it in, and start jamming. Each session is recorded automatically, and features panning and zooming camera shots across the entire ensemble. As with most of the other activities in Wii Music up to four people can jam at the same time, each using their own controller. Once the song has ended the video can be saved and rated as well as sent to other friends via WiiConnect24.
Videos – A place to organize and view all of the different music videos that the player and others (via WiiConnect24) have created.
Wii Music is obviously geared toward the younger video game player but its value should not be limited to any one specific age group. The beautiful thing about the game is that anyone can be instantly successful and start jamming out with almost no practice necessary. The only downside to the game is long term replay value. New songs are added to the play list as certain activities are completed giving more depth to the game, but after a while all of the activities become rather repetitive.
Unlike most music video games Wii Music is actually quite educational in its application of musical concepts. Wii Maestro and Pitch Perfect both provide transparent instruction in some basic musical concepts such as steady beat and ear training. When learning to play more advanced songs basic music notation is also added in. The instrument controls are not incredibly realistic, but they are enough so that a student can get a feel for what it might be like to play the real thing.