Beatbuddy: Tales of the Guardians is a game with a pulse. You awaken as Beatbuddy — a blob-like manifestation of beats and rhythm – who travels in the veins of lush, underwater, blood cell-like environment to save your home from a malevolent prince. You swim and connect closed off areas in a puzzle-solving fashion, while combining creature sounds into a completed song. Doing this requires shifting drum-like obstacles, rhythmically bouncing from one area to the next, bashing lobsters tapping out sharp hi-hats, and other tasks. Engaging gameplay coupled with a phenomenal original soundtrack creates a rhythm/puzzle/action hybrid unique to each genre in its own right. Despite a somewhat wonky storyline (and control issues, at times), Tales of the Guardians is a treat for fans of rhythm and puzzle gamers alike.
As Beatbuddy, you travel from area to area trying to prevent Prince Maestro from taking over the music that drives the world of Symphonia. Along side you are Harmony, Melody, and Clef, companions who occasionally offer help as you traverse each stage. The electronic music score has individual instrument patterns scattered throughout the level. Most of the aquatic life that surrounds you creates the music and are used to solve puzzles and dive deeper into levels. For example, you’ll start off in an area where an underwater lifeform moves in a rhythm that represents a pulsing bassline. It gives Beatbuddy the ability to bounce off it and propel further into the stage. Later you’ll encounter a lobster moving its feelers — feelers that represent the sharp hi-hats that have replaced the bassline. These feelers do damaged if touched, but can be turned off using a nearby switch. This continues until a section of the level is completed, then all of the previous instrument sounds come together to create a completed track. Rinse, wash, repeat.
Certain segments require that you travel in Clef’s unreliable bubblebuggy vehicle, but the controls are sluggish and wonky. Navigation proves frustrating because those sections demand your character move with a certain rhythm to bypass damaging obstacles. Boosting makes the buggy move faster, but you lose a lot of steering control in the process. It seems the controls were implemented in an effort to keep your character at the correct pace to follow the beat or move seamlessly in timed situations, and in that respect, I can understand the reason to implement that control scheme. That said, the controls are a bit of a hindrance from time to time.
There are enemies that damage you and reduce your health bar, but to take some of them down requires you to do so in the form of a rhythmic motion dictated by the enemy itself; rhythm is cohesive with nearly everything in this game.
Beatbuddy: Tales of the Guardians is a 2D game with an absolutely gorgeous hand-painted environment. Every color, from the backdrop to solid rock surfaces are detailed with a vibrant, lush neon shade that pops off the screen. Everything gives off a glow in every nook and cranny of a stage, even down to enemies and Beatbuddy himself — nothing goes unnoticed. Although the story is slightly underwhelming, dialog your conversations with NPCs (spoken in a beatboxing-type language) delivers a charm and personality that matches the glistening environments and musical vibe.
Speaking of music, each track’s production quality in each song is highly enjoyable. Even if you don’t enjoy Electronic music you’ll find yourself tapping your feet or bobbing your head to the soundtrack because of just how engrossed it is to everything you do in the game.
To summarize, Beatbuddy: Tales of the Guardians is a very solid game that should be praised for its uniqueness. Developer Wolf Lang took the bizarre concept of an underwater world completely dictated by music, and created gameplay that I’ve never quite experienced as interconnected as this. Stages don’t come plenty — there are about only six levels overall — but each level takes about 45 minutes to complete, so it isn’t too short a ride. Puzzles aren’t abusively challenging , but can get repetitive in some parts. When the music all comes together, however, it’s always rewarding.
Grab this title if you’re a fan of rhythm games and want a refreshing take on the genre.
Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians Minimum PC Requirements
- OS: Windows XP
- Processor: 1.8-GHz dual-core CPU
- RAM: 2 GB
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 3000
- Hard Drive: 1 GB
You can buy Beatbuddy on Steam for $14.99.