Developer: TheMusic co., Ltd
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★☆☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★½☆

Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

BeatRider is an absolutely fantastic rhythm game for the iPod Touch & iPhone. In the classic style of Rock Band and Guitar Hero, notes come whizzing down five different-colored tracks, and tapping them in time with the music wins you points. If you’ve played Tap Tap Revenge before, it’ll be a familiar experience. But BeatRider offers one tantalizing difference: the ability to upload your own mp3 files to their website. From there, you can play the songs in the game itself. While this system isn’t without its drawbacks, BeatRider’s smooth presentation and high quality ultimately make up for its flaws.

When you first start the game, you’ll be shown the four free tracks. Unfortunately, you’ll have to download them before you can play. Personally, I would have rather they came pre-loaded and bundled into the app’s download time, but…well, it’s bearable. It takes some long, precious seconds for each song to download. Once one has finished, you can begin playing on any of the six difficulty levels.

img_01371 One of BeatRider’s best moves was to make the default view landscape. I had played the lite version of this game a while back, and it was crammed into portrait mode: functional, but cramped. While the portrait view is always an option (accessible under “Options,” then “Skins”), the landscape view allows for wider tracks…a necessity if your fingers are on the larger side.

As you play, notes fly towards you in a familiar pattern. “Holds,” or longer notes, are present, too; these are represented by two notes on the same track connected by a line. Slurs are also present, this time represented by multiple notes connected by a line. For the most part, the notes match your music, but it’s not always spot-on. I don’t know how exactly BeatRider calculates note placement. Most of the time it works, sometimes it doesn’t; overall, it’s a relatively good rendering.

img_01411Once you finish, a familiar-looking screen appears with your results (overall grade, a breakdown of “greats” versus “bads” and so on) as well as the option to recommend the music to someone else. You can also see where you stand on a leaderboard for that particular song…if its name is correct. (In other words, if your song title is some downloaded gibberish along the lines of “# – Artist – Album – Track,” you won’t be compared to people with a correctly named song.)

To upload music (and then download it onto your iDevice), you need an account for mybeatrider.com. Under “Options,” there’s an “Account” button; tapping that will allow you to set up your account. On the website side, you need to log in, then proceed to the “Music Uploads” section. Thankfully, there’s a multi-file uploader, but if you’re uploading, say, fifty megabytes of music, your internet might slow to a crawl for a while. Annoyingly, BeatRider only grants you thirty song uploads, and your song files become unusable after 7 days. That’s right: after 7 days, you have to re-upload all of your songs.

Ouch.

After you’ve uploaded your music, you have to download it to your device, which again takes a chunk of time. But once you have it, all six difficulty levels are immediately available for play. The ability to tap to your own tunes is one of BeatRider’s unique features, and part of what makes it a worthwhile purchase. I still wish that the app would just use the 3.0 API and access my iPod’s music library, though. Hmph.

img_01391All told, BeatRider is a great rhythm game. True, there are some annoyances: the whole upload process in general, the lack of sound effects when the results screen appears, the fact that your tracks need to be perfectly named for the leaderboard to work, and so on. But when it comes down to it, there isn’t much better in the music genre on the iPhone; sure, you could stick to Tap Tap, but this is a whole ‘nother level. The video above says it all, folks, and if you want to experiment further, the lite version even lets you test the upload system!

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