Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Rhythm games seem to be enjoying a resurgence on the App Store lately, sporting clever new twists. One newcomer, Beat Sneak Bandit, mixes beat-driven gameplay with a puzzle-platformer that’s simple to play, but difficult to master. We’ve seen something similar this year with JAZZ: Trump’s Journey, but what’s new here is that the rhythm and taps to it are the actual controls.
The game opens with a great classic-style cartoon. We are warned, via a news broadcast, that chaos abounds. All the world's clocks have gone missing. Clues point to evil Duke Clockface and his Clockwork Mansion. He’s out to build a time freezing device and someone has to stop him. It’s the perfect mission for Bandit and his sidekick, a frog named Herbie.
The game starts when Bandit makes his way into the mansion. With telephone tips from Herbie, he must figure out how to get to the flagged clock on each level. It’s not always easy; the time-hoarding tyrant's security system is pretty beefy. Players have to avoid security lights, trap doors, guards and more as the game unfolds across four environments.
Finding the right path to the big clock is the way to progress, but there are also four smaller clocks to collect in order to get the best score. This adds reply value, but mainly for those compulsive enough to seek perfection.
What's entirely novel is the way the rhythm and music component work. They’re completely tied into the controls. The funky soundtrack has a solid bass line and on each beat – indicated for the rhythmically impaired by a pulsing light at the top of the screen – a single tap moves Bandit forward.
He can only head in the direction he is facing and one step at a time. To turn around he has to hit a wall. The movement must be synched to the tempo or Bandit goes nowhere fast. Getting the beat pattern spot-on is essential as players are also timing their sneaks past guards who do about-faces and obstacles that open and close also to the beat.
The artwork has a very cool retro cartoon vibe and the music suits the style perfectly. That said a more pronounced beat pattern, at least on the first few levels, would help ease players into this new control concept. Headphones definitely help.
The controls could use some fine-tuning and I found being unable to 180 without hitting a barrier frustrating, even while understanding that is essential to the puzzle component. Nonetheless, Beat Sneak Bandit has style, well-blended elements from many popular gaming genres, and a unique musical aspect that make for a innovative and pulsating good time.