Developer: Starlab Games
Price: $2.99
Version: 1.0.2
App Reviewed on: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★½
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★½
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Way back in 2005, Guitar Hero burst onto the scene and transformed rhythm games from a mere arcade sideshow into an appealing and accessible way to both consume music and test the reflexes. Though the brand has been since put on ‘indefinite hiatus’ by publisher Activision, the genre hopes to continue iOS success in the new game Rhythmanix. Can it manage to maintain the beat of its stellar predecessors or is the tempo far too fast to keep up with?

Rhythm games are nothing without a solid library of music. Rhythmanix seems to be paying attention to this commonality, and have recruited the services of tunes from across the spectrum. Everything from classical to videogame staples have been re-imagined to with a techno beat. Each track serves to both challenge the player, while at the same time introducing each of the different styles of music featured in the soundtrack. Luckily, it won’t matter song what the player chooses, because each is both difficult and entertaining.

A core component of every rhythm game is the “note road.” In the past it has commonly been seen descending from above. However , the developer decided to take a different approach and instead split the screen in two, with the top portion of the road moving from left to right and the bottom portion moving from right to left. This is a curious way to give players a heads up to what notes are coming next, but oddly enough, it works well, especially in songs that are quick enough to require the use of both hands. The flow of moving from the top to bottom screen actually helps curb what might have otherwise been an abrupt transition, had both halves been transitioning from left to right.

Notes are hit by performing a series of different gestural moves such as taps, slides and holds. At higher difficulties these might even need to be performed by several fingers simultaneously. Good luck keeping up though, because anything beyond the hard difficulty will most likely induce brain and finger cramps, the likes of which players have never experienced before. If there were one key to success that takes precedence above all others, it is hitting notes as they are shown on the screen, not what the player might expect timings to be. Some of these songs may sound familiar, but each arrangement tinkers with syncopations just enough to trip up the unobservant.

Rhythmanix (or Rhythmix, as it is named in any region other than North America, the United Kingdom, Korea and Japan) is an outstanding take on rhythm and music based gaming on iOS. The new interface alone is enough of a game-changing evolution to set itself apart from other similar titles on the platform. Thankfully the stellar base soundtrack also has the ability to push players to their very limits, while also being catchy enough to encourage replay. Drop the beat and give this a download. It will definitely return the favor in a BIG way.

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