LOUD On Planet X (PC) Review

LOUD On Planet X (PC) Review

Loud on Planet X is a great example of why mixing genres works. Many developers have mixed similar genres such as Action and RPG, or Shooter with… well, everything. So few games have as much of a contrast in genres as Loud on Planet X, but the game proves that this mix creates a beautiful lovechild of a fast-paced rhythm game and a tower defense.

The objective of Loud On Planet X is to protect four lanes of speakers from an onslaught of aliens for the duration of the song. Players tap along to the tempo, usually in conjunction with the drums or bass, while strategically planning which lanes need the most immediate attention. If one of your lanes is suddenly swarmed, you don’t get to rapidly tap the aliens away – you have to do so to the beat of the song. This forces players to plan ahead and determine which aliens to blast first; if you can keep the rhythm under pressure, that is.

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It’s hard to stay calm and focused on tapping along to the music when a crowd of aliens are inching their way towards the stage. Often, the pressure of the horde approaching my speakers made me miss some notes. Missing notes allows the horde to continue their approach, which added more pressure and made me miss more notes. It’s a vicious cycle that quickly taught me to prioritize my taps to whichever lane was in most danger.

The horde is comprised of several types of unique aliens that all share one thing in common: They hate being blasted in the face with sweet, sweet music. Some of them speed up once they’ve been hit, some explode green goop all over the screen to block vision and some split into smaller, faster aliens once defeated. Each alien takes a different number of blasts to destroy, indicated by the number of eyes on their body.

Each artist has a different ability to take out enemies, but their effect is the same: Filling up the LOUD gauge at the top of the screen unleashes an attack that destroys all on-screen enemies.

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Unlike other music games, increasing Loud‘s difficulty doesn’t add more notes or increase the speed at which you play along to songs. Instead, doing so spawns more aliens during the song. However, your ability to fend them off remains the same. The tempo at which you play each song never increases, so on harder difficulties each beat counts.

Because you aren’t playing an instrument in Loud On Planet X, the songs with faster tempos were often much more fun. Songs with slower tempos sometimes felt like a drag, especially on easy mode, because I started to feel like a human metronome. One…Two…Three…Four…

On medium difficulty and above, there’s never a dull moment. I’d play the slowest song in the roster and still be sweating. In fact, after numerous attempts, I only ever completed one song on hard mode, and my speakers took some serious abuse throughout my attempt.

Hard mode is seriously tough. The spawn rate of aliens, especially those quick, little rascals, is dramatically increased, while the entire horde of aliens receives a noticeable speed boost. The fun thing about hard mode is that neither the song pace nor the tempo changes; the difficulty ramps up by forcing players to manage their lanes efficiently to succeed.

This game is no Guitar Hero or Rock Band, but it isn’t trying to be – and that’s a good thing. Loud On Planet X features 14 current indie artists, each of whom provide two tracks to the game. The soundtrack is fantastic, and while I already knew and enjoyed some of the artists like Lights and July Talk, it expanded my horizons to new, talented artists.

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Faster songs are a lot of fun. As songs speed up, so does the spawn rate of the aliens – so when a song starts to pick up, the difficulty ramps up as well. I really appreciated the tower defense gameplay matching the intensity of the song.

Most of the aliens only take three or four blasts to kill, but on some songs it could take a few seconds blast four times with the tempo. This becomes even more difficult when you panic, because missing even one note could cost you a whole lane.

The power-up items are useful, but I almost never noticed that I had acquired them. When I did notice, it distracted me from the tempo and threw me off, so I mostly avoided them. Likewise, repairing speakers could be handy, but I never really found a good opportunity to do so. This is especially noticeable on hard mode, where every so often enemies would destroy one of my speakers, forcing me to leave my other lanes vulnerable while I repaired it.

Loud On Planet X has a fantastic soundtrack, clean, minimalist visuals and is a great blend of tower defense and music. The gameplay feels like Guitar Hero or Tap Tap mixed with Plants vs. Zombies, and it absolutely works. While the easy mode is sometimes a little too easy, medium certainly offers a challenge, and hard should only be attempted by Loud masters. As a whole, Loud is a phenomenal showcase for indie artists and a fun experience for tower defense lovers.

Loud on Planet X : A New Take On The Rhythm Genre

Loud on Planet X : A New Take On The Rhythm Genre

PS4 is getting a new indie music game with heavy Patapon and Rhythm Heaven influences later this month. Loud on Planet X is a mash-up of two completely different genres – rhythm tap and tower defence. Normally, these genres would never be seen together, but Loud on Planet X promises to make it work with a huge lineup of artists including Tegan and Sara, Metric, Lights and July Talk.

Loud on Planet X was born from the idea of playing classic arcade games on mute while listening to other music. The team behind Loud on Planet X, Pop Soundbox productions, gathered some of their favourite indie artists from the heart of Toronto, and gradually expanded the game’s roster internationally.

Loud on Planet X Brings the Noise to PS4

“We started by reaching out to bands we love within our vibrant local Toronto scene, helped by some generous introductions from Mike and Jonah of F*cked Up, and Brendan and Justin from Broken Social Scene, who each also contributed original tracks to the score,” the developer said in a PlayStation blog post. “We’ve ended up with 14 great and emerging musical artists that are all excited to be on board, each with their own in-game special attack. It has really helped that most of the bands are big gamers.”

Loud on Planet X’s lead developer was also part of the team that created the hit rhythm platformer Sound Shapes.

The game launches on April 19 for PS4, with a hopeful Vita release in the future.

Check out our interview with one of the minds behind Loud on Planet X, Alex Jensen.

Lights: From Azeroth to the Stage

Lights: From Azeroth to the Stage

Art, in all its forms, is inherently influenced by previous works, especially when it comes to music. So it should come as no surprise to find out that many musicians draw inspiration from both videogames and comic books. CGM decided it was time to look into this, and chat with a few of these artists to hear from them about how gaming has influenced their work.

Canadian musician Valerie Poxleitner, better known as Lights, has made no secret of her passion for gaming, with songs, art and even tattoos directly drawn from games like World of Warcraft. She took some time out of her busy schedule to speak with us, and explain why she is passionate about videogames and how they’ve bled into her music and personal life.

Comics Gaming Magazine: You’re a notorious World of Warcraft fanatic, how are you liking the new expansion Warlords of Draenor?

Lights: I haven’t played it yet, and that’s sad. I’m seeing all this stuff about it, I follow the Blizzard accounts and I’m getting all these updates about it but I haven’t played it, and I really want to. I actually haven’t logged in to WoW in, well, must be over a year by now. I’ve been mostly console gaming because I haven’t had the time to sit down and play. Having said that, WoD might be enough to bring me back.

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CGM: I can understand with your busy schedule that a time sink like WoW might not be the best thing.

Lights: Totally. And the thing is, you need a very stable connection, even to do a 15 minute dungeon, or you get kicked. That can be kind of hard to find when you’re in a different venue all the time, and the bus isn’t exactly stable Wi-Fi, so that’s made it hard for me to stick with it. But I do love it. They even named an in-game item after me, which was a total “I can die happy” moment. Holy Paladin leggings called The Poxleitner’s Leggings of Lights.

CGM: Did you get a chance to watch any of Blizzcon or were you too busy?

Lights: No, unfortunately I wasn’t able to. I’ve even had tickets the last two years and didn’t get a chance to watch this year. I wish I did though, this was the first year I didn’t get to watch it. I feel very sad about that.

CGM: You’re well-known for having a few gaming related tattoos, anything new?

Lights: The newest one would be the little machine symbol, which is heavily inspired by manga and the anime I’ve been watching lately. It’s like with Warcraft, when I wore the Alliance patch for the first time. Being able to connect with complete strangers over a symbol. You immediately have this connection, you know you’ll have something to talk about and I love that, and I feel the same way about my fan base. We’ve been building this amazing and passionate fan base over the last six years and I felt that it was time that we had a symbol like that. Even when see people wearing the scout regiment wings from Attack on Titan, an anime I really like, it’s a point of connection. So I felt that it was a time that we had a symbol like that. I thought I would be the first one to get it, but I wasn’t! There were all these fans that got it tattooed on them before I did, so I had to catch up. So I got that on the back of my neck, and the one before that was a rocket tattoo in honour of my little daughter.

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CGM: We’re looking at musicians that are influenced by, or write music about videogames. As this is something you’re obviously passionate about, how much of your work is inspired by games? Both lyrically and musically?

Lights: It’s so hard to pinpoint the exact places I’m inspired by, but looking at the big picture, I’m heavily inspired by it. Especially fantasy games, games that have really cool lore and storylines are ones I draw from. In particular, I always go back to Warcraft, I used to play it a LOT. I actually wrote a song called “Lions” on the first album that has some direct references to WoW. In the bridge it goes “I’m not the hunter, I’m not the marked” in reference to the hunter’s mark. Playing games allowed me to be imaginative and lose myself in another world, and that’s where you need to be to be creative. You can’t exist in the present world too much. I really feel like you can draw so much inspiration just by losing yourself in these other environments. One thing in particular that I’m inspired by is the dialogue in games like Skyrim, Oblivion and Fable. The way things are worded, the whole light vs dark and evil vs good and the empowerment of the hero. I find that so inspiring. I write from that place a lot, because sometimes the battles in your own mind feel like that.

CGM: You’ve mentioned manga, what titles are you currently digging? Do you read Western comics at all?

Lights: I just started reading Locke and Key, it’s pretty cool. Saga is another one I’m enjoying.

CGM: Saga is amazing, probably my favourite series of the last couple years.

Lights: So good, I’m a fan of the writer, Brian K. Vaughan, who wrote Y the Last Man, which is another awesome series.

CGM: Do you read much genre fiction?

Lights: I haven’t had a chance to really, I wanted to get into The Kingkiller Chronicles and series like that, but it’s still a new frontier for me. Ultimately, the reason I read comics and graphic novels and play games is that I’m just not a good reader *laughs* I just can’t sit down and focus on reading a book as much as I wish I could, I need the pictures.

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CGM: Well that’s refreshingly honest, I’m sure the visual art helps kick off the imagination a lot more.

Lights: Hugely. The visuals are a big point of inspiration to me in terms of fantasy worlds, being able to see the artist’s representation of that world is just as inspiring as reading about it, if not more.

CGM: How do you find time to maintain personal interests like this with touring, writing music, and generally being super busy all the time?

Lights: While I do have a hectic schedule, it’s not hard to make time for something you really enjoy. I’ll always find time to sit down and play. Even on this tour we’ve been playing through a few of the Resident Evil games, it’s not something you have to force yourself to sit down and play. With a graphic novel or comic on hand you can sit down for a few minutes during the day and just, lose yourself. I think that is so important and I try to preach that all the time. It makes life more enjoyable, don’t think about the real world too much.

CGM: Thanks so much, it was nice chatting to you!

Lights: Awesome, thanks for taking the time to speak with me.

Lights, Camera, Party! Review

Lights, Camera, Party! Review

Yes, It’s Another Party Game

The Wii set the stage for casual gaming by creating the party/mini-game standard that has become a long, dark shadow stretching across the rest of gaming. Whether it’s with a  Wii-mote, a Playstation Move controller, or the Kinect, they all amount to the same thing; a bunch of small games, lasting no more than a few seconds or minutes that people take turns playing. It’s cheap, it’s easy and it gives people something to do together if they’re not particularly keen on actually talking to each other. Lights, Camera, Party! is one more title to add to that pile, and it does nothing to stand out from the crowd.

Wheel Of Mini-Games

The premise of Lights, Camera, Party! goes something like this; the Funzini family is minding their own business when a rocket launch being covered by a game show host goes horribly wrong. The rocket crashes into their home, demolishing it completely, and now, in an effort to make lemonade from lemons, the game show host hits upon an idea. He makes the now homeless family competitors in a series of mini-games, with the winner of each round getting a section of a new home as they desire. Whoever has the most parts of the house in their preferred format once the building is complete wins.

It’s a silly, barebones story for another round of mini-game madness and the presentation of the game is in keeping with the tone. As you’d expect from a game that makes no great demands on the hardware, it runs very smoothly. No trouble with frame rates, no glitches or graphical bugs to speak of. On a technical level, it’s quite good. The art direction is simple, cartoony and not particularly inspired, but when you’re making a family game, bright and colorful is all you need. Lights, Camera, Party! definitely is all that. Sound is not particularly robust—it’s not a shooter, so it doesn’t need to be—and doesn’t do much in the way of taking advantage of surround set-ups. But then was anyone really expecting a party game compilation to push the PS3 to its performance envelope?

Lights, Camera, Party! Review

When we finally get to the mini-games this is where the more serious problems start. One thing that the game occasionally fails at is giving proper instruction. Each mini-game is incredibly brief, but the visual diagrams that accompany a game before it starts aren’t always clear on what kind of movements the game is looking for. For example, one mini-game requires that players hold the Move controller horizontally in their hand to prepare for a motorcycle jump. The visual diagram doesn’t do a good job of conveying that what the game is looking for is to have the Move controller be “revved” forwards and backwards as a motorcyclist would do. Another serious issue is that occasionally the detection of motion will be off on certain mini-games. While the certain motions, like an under-handed bowling motion work fine, the overhand equivalent—particularly when you have to hold and then depress a trigger to indicate “I’m throwing now”—are clumsy and often fail to register properly. This is not a game that is fundamentally broken, but in a market flooded with party/mini-games, it’s not doing a great job of holding its own.

Ultimately, Move Champions is still probably the best example of what the Move controller can do in a mini-game situation. The bright colors and whacky sensory overload of Lights, Camera, Party! are still likely to do the job when it comes to pleasing kids, but for “serious” Move users, this isn’t going to make your list. A passable—if slightly broken—mini-game compilation is all that’s on show here. Definitely not at the top of the list.