App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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Beat Racer is about as close to a Tron: Legacy-themed rhythm game as you can get without actually licensing that property. It's got a dark, futuristic, and appropriately polygonal setting that is highlighted with trails of neon lights (much like Tron's general aesthetic) and every car in the game has a name that references a Daft Punk song. As a rhythm game, Beat Racer sports snappy controls, a high skill ceiling, and a solid–though Daft Punk-less–soundtrack, making it one of the best mobile rhythm games out there.
Steerin' & Jumpin'
In Beat Racer you are put behind the wheel of a car and tasked with picking up orbs while dodging obstacles and taking out enemies that come up from behind you. This involves swiping left and right on the screen to steer, swiping up to jump, and swiping down to fire your weapon behind you.
Since this is a rhythm game, all of this action is set to music. Orbs and obstacles are placed strategically on the highway to make you time your actions to what's happening in the song that you're playing. The more orbs you collect in a row, the higher your score multiplier gets. In addition to being tied to your score, orbs also allow you to load your car's weapon, which is necessary to take out any enemies that come up behind you. If you miss too many orbs on a level, you'll likely get run off the road by an enemy before you can finish the song.
Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger
Beat Racer sports ten worlds with four songs each, coming in at a total of forty levels. If you find yourself having beaten all of these levels, there's still a whole lot more of the game to play, thanks to some neat mechanics that add replayability and raise Beat Racer's skill ceiling beyond simply “collecting orbs to the beat.”
Some of these features are really obvious, like using the currency you earn on every level to purchase new cars or upgrade the ones you already own to boost your score multipliers. Others, though, are quite subtle and add some additional strategy for high-level play.
For example, there is a system in Beat Racer that allows players to activate a boost of sorts that allows you to collect more orbs than are generally on a normal highway, but you can only activate this if you've earned three shots of your weapon. Taking full advantage of this system for high score purposes requires both a diligence to collecting orbs and careful timing of when to fire your weapon.
Human After All
As great as Beat Racer is, there are a couple of things about it that hold it back. The first is that its structure, both in terms of its level progression and free-to-play mechanics, feel a little too restrictive than they should be. Because you can't move on to the next level until you've beaten the prior one and it costs in-game currency to attempt a level, you might find yourself playing easier levels over and over to earn currency to try to play a level you're stuck on just to to move forward.
There's also the problem of the soundtrack. Although it is appropriately eclectic and actually pretty solid, the utter lack of Daft Punk feels weird for a game that otherwise feels like a tribute to them.
The bottom line
Beat Racer is a flat out great rhythm game. It looks and feels amazing, and has some hidden depth to make it feel infinitely replayable. Although there are some slight issues around its structure and soundtrack, these pale in comparison to how fun the core game is.