148Apps Network Post
Developer: TAITO
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
User Interface Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Rhythm games have always been a pretty good fit with iOS devices. Something about the touch screen and tapping out the beats… I dunno, it just blends together really well. Now the minds behind Space Invaders-Infinity Gene have tossed their hats into the ring and produced something that’s every bit as “out there” and fun as the Evolutionary shooter.

Groove Coaster is a mash-up of genres; combining the timing-based tapping found in most music games, the psychedelic wire frame visuals from titles like Rez HD and the constant upgrades and evolutions in TAITO’s other release. The player’s avatar glides along a wire as it twists and turns, occasionally passing a glowing thing which will require a tap. And that’s the extent of the gameplay. No virtual sticks, no tilting and no on-screen buttons to press. It’s just a simple, elegant one-touch interface.

As obvious as it might be from the screen shots, I’m still going to say it: Groove Coaster is a good looking game. But more than that, it’s the way it moves that really caught my attention. These lines bend and weave all over the place, often times changing the camera angle dramatically and often, always keeping me on my toes and on the lookout for the glowies. Each stage is based around a particular song and incorporates three difficulty levels, with leaderboards, to keep those players playing obsessively. And as with the previously mentioned Space Invaders, completed stages yield experience, which in turn unlocks new avatars with varying in-game effects, usable items and skins. If people start to get bored of all that, there’s even The Beginning: a level shaped along with each individual player’s progress.

On the flip-side, I’m at odds with myself over the game’s tendency to disrupt the music if indicators are missed or timed improperly. On the one hand it’s a good indication of a miss, but on the other it totally ruins the flow of the song. An avatar is available that negates this problem, so there’s that, but I kind of wish it were something that could be adjusted in the options menu instead. Apart from that, Groove Coaster also suffers a bit from the same issue all rhythm games have to deal with: timing. In some instances the visual cues don’t quite sync up with the music, leading to some lower-scoring taps or even a few misses.

Groove Coaster is just as crazy-awesome a game as one would expect to get from the people who brought us Space Invaders-Infinity Gene. There’s lots of entertainment to be had while obsessively unlocking everything, even more when going for the top spots on the leaderboards and that Infinity Gene Medley (a bonus level available through in-app purchase) keeps taunting me to buy it. I don’t know for sure if I’ll enjoy it more than Revenge of Arkanoid, but the temptation is still there.

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