With the retail space seeing a resurgence in rhythm games such as Guitar Hero and Rockband, I have been eager to see if a smaller, more independent studio could fill the very big boots of the behemoths in the genre. POP sandbox’s Loud on Planet X certainly doesn’t disappoint. The game brings a fresh angel to the genre that has never really been explored before, marrying systems from more waved based games such as Plants vs Zombies, and the systems that were used to seeing in these types of games, into an addicting and fun experience.
The premise of the game is fairly simple and doesn’t really have any other function other than to act as a nice backdrop to the gameplay. The premise pretty much goes as follows; musicians have been abducted by aliens and they must use the power of music to fight of the hordes of aliens in order to survive, that’s pretty much it. I didn’t really mind the lack of an overarching story as the game in no way has to rely on the narrative to keep the player interested.
The real bread and butter of this game lies within its gameplay. The gameplay, much like the story, is rather simple. However, don’t lets this put you off as the games simplicity is what makes it so enjoyable. The game presents you with four lanes which you must defend using various band members, each equipped with a supersonic speaker in front of them. In order to fight the oncoming hordes of aliens, the player must tap the corresponding button of a lane to the beat of a song. Doing this correctly will ensure that the alien that is charging towards will be killed, while failing to keep up with the beat will cause one of the four speakers to take damage. Not to worry though, each speaker can withstand a couple of hits before breaking and leaving a clear path for the aliens to replace the sound of your instruments to the sound of them munching on your band. There is also a variety of different aliens to keep the gameplay from getting stale too quickly. The differences between these aliens include; a difference in health, speed and colour. The health of the aliens is representative of how many hits it takes to destroy it with the laser. I appreciated that the health was shown by the number of eyes on the alien, rather than just a generic health bar. The changes in speed on the other hand, add a small bit of strategy compared to the more generic music games that are currently on the market. I found that I was constantly having to keep an eye on which aliens would reach the speakers first so that I could create some sort of order in my head as to which lane needed my attention first.
As well as paying attention to the aliens, there is also two meters that will fill up as enemies are killed. The first of these meters is the Mystery box meter. Once filled up, the player can press L2 to drop a random power up into one of the lanes. These power-ups give the player the ability to do such things as slow down time and have an auto firing laser. The second meter is called the LOUD meter. Once full, this meter allows the player to activate a stylish special attack which will destroy everything on-screen. While I did feel that I was ignoring these meters a lot of the time, especially on easy and medium difficulties as the game didn’t present much of a challenge, I felt that each of the visually striking attacks gave us an insight into each of the different band members.
The visuals and audio of the game really seemed to complement each other and the overall experience of the game. The bright and colourful art style matched extremely well the games hip, indie soundtrack, and while the music wasn’t always to my tastes, I almost always found myself bobbing along to the unique and catchy beat each song had. Most importantly though, they both allow the game to stand out amongst other similar games on the market, which is never a bad thing in the overly saturated games market. One thing that I felt the game was missing was some sort of multiplayer component. Something like a leader board to track your progress against your friends would have been a nice addition to add to the longevity of the game.
As a lover of a variety of music based games from Soundshapes to guitar hero, I must say that I am impressed with what this game has managed to achieve. It is taken the rhythm game genre and adapted it to make its own by adding elements of strategy and a variation of enemies to fight. Yes, like most games, Loud on Planet X wasn’t perfect and would have been that little bit better if it had included an online leader board and maybe was a little harder. However, I enjoyed every second I had with this game and would recommend it to both veterans of the genre and newcomers.
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