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"Beat Hazard is designed to overload the senses and batter your eyes from start to finish."
—Starg, confirming our suspicions
Beat Hazard is an indie Shoot'Em Up created by Cold Beam Studios and released on Steam, Xbox Live Indie Games, the Playstation Network, and the Apple App Store. The premise is simple... choose a song, which in this case is a level, and shoot some bad guys, consisting of space junk in various-sized clumps, small Space Planes, bigger Space Planes, and even bigger Space Planes, which are armed with multiple weapons to take you down. In other words, shoot anything that moves.
Ever play Asteroids? This game should look visually familiar. That is, until the space behind your ship suddenly becomes a psychedelic audio visualization. Your small fighter craft appears in the middle of the screen, things fly in from all sides, you dodge'em and shoot'em. Now, here's the catch. Difficulty level is controlled by your choice of music, not unlike in Audiosurf. Survive the whole song and you complete the level - which means that Epic Rocking equals Marathon Level. Your spaceship's guns shoot faster and harder the faster and louder your chosen song is. And, on top of that, there are Power Ups that make the music even louder and, of course, increase the power of your guns. If you need a breather, there's a Smart Bomb that wipes all enemies onscreen (not counting bosses), too.
In Normal Play, you choose a song and play through it, and you're done. Pick a new song, shoot some more bad guys, rinse and repeat. If you prefer, you can engage in Survival mode and see how many songs you can get through before you lose all your lives.
Note that because of the way the game works, relevant music tropes often get paired with a video game trope.
- Abnormal Ammo:
- Beam Spam:
- The deadly Tracker Cannon on boss ships. First, it uses a Laser Sight to aim at you. Then, it launches a salvo of beams at the place it locked you at. Hope you managed to move out of the way.
- The worst part is that there are two (three after the Ultra Patch, although the third one behaves differently) variations of that cannon. The first one fires a beam at the spot it's locked on, the second one fires two beams slightly off the spot. So if you can't get really far from it in time, you have either get out of the laser sights, or stay in them. If you guessed wrong, you die.
- Lord help you if the Tracker Cannon is the last thing left on a boss when on Suicidal - the charge time (the time the laser sight is visible) is barely long enough to react (barely 0.2 seconds), and the cooldown between attacks is pretty much nil.
- Bullet Hell:
- You shoot a lot. The bosses shoot a lot too. Some things you can shoot down, some you have to dodge.
- Rapidly spinning in place will completely fill the screen with projectiles.
- Curb Stomp Battle: It's possible to destroy a boss ship before it can even fire. Doing so nets you the "Brutal Boss Kill" Achievement.
- Destructible Projectiles: You can shoot at and destroy mines and missiles. You can't do that to the red orbs, but they're easy enough to dodge.
- Downloadable Content: The Ultra pack, which dramatically expands the game. There's also a cheap codec pack that enables you to play music in iTunes, m4a, mp4 and other formats.
- Dynamic Difficulty:
- Enemies fire more often as the music gets louder and faster.
- Your weapon damage is also based on the music intensity. During a quiet bit your weapons do very little damage to enemies you can slaughter by the dozen with a single sweep of fire when it's intense.
- Dual Boss:
- Sometimes instead of one bigger boss you have to deal with two smaller ones. They still pack some serious punch though.
- If the achievement list for Ultra is anything to go by, you can have at least 4 different bosses onscreen at the same time during the Boss Rush mode.
- Epic Rocking: if you enjoy Marathon Levels, try it. It'll hurt, though.
- Epileptic Flashing Lights: The game starts with a seizure warning. Unfortunately, they made it skippable.
- Expansion Pack: Ultra, which caused a leaderboard and rank reset upon release due to changes in how quieter-but-still-intense sections of songs are handled (which is part of a free patch). There's enough new content in there to make it feel like a new game entirely.
- Harder Than Hard: Hardcore not hard enough for you? Give Insane a try. Still not hard enough? Try Suicidal.
- Interface Screw:
- When power is on full and the background visuals get going, it can be very hard to tell what's happening on screen. An intentional design decision as it changes with the difficulty and turning down the graphics intensity reduces your point harvest.
- Certain enemies in the Ultra pack can mess with your ship. Attractors and Repellers use gravity beams to either pull your ship in or push it away, potentially into something you shouldn't hit. Bosses can potentially have either type on some of their hardpoints. There's also an enemy that essentially amounts to a chain of glowing energy balls that if you hit, do not damage you but disable your weaponry momentarily.
- Laser Sight: When you see a boss use one, avoid it. That's the Tracker Cannon.
- Macross Missile Massacre:
- Homing Missile launchers on boss ships. Also, you can take it Up to Eleven with weapon power upgrades and the song's tempo. A new ship in the Ultra pack unleashes one upon death.
- The Ring Mine launchers on Suicidal are slightly faster and fire in larger quantities per burst.
- One of the perks gives you one of these. They prioritize the most threatening target on screen, totally bypassing other enemies to reach it. If some missiles are left over afterwards, they will automatically track the next most dangerous target and so on.
- Meta Multiplayer: Leaderboards.
- Musical Assassin: You! Unfortunately, this also goes for the enemies and bosses, whose energy projectiles change color and pulsate in time with the music.
- Music Player Game
- Nintendo Hard:
- Think you're good at this game? Art of Life will still make you its prison bitch. The first 3 minutes of the song are slow and quiet, meaning you will die, a lot.
- Want to go insane? Select the Delta Halo Suite and set it to Insane. Proceed to flip out. It's over 11 minutes long and has silent parts.
- Take any long trance/thumping techno band of any sort, such as Infected Mushroom. Special mention goes to their song "Psycho" which has a nasty tendency to throw a boss at you at the beginning of the song. It only gets worse from there.
- For a piece of hell under the 5 minute mark, try Clear Mind on Hardcore. There are barely any breather spots so it's hard to get your multiplyer up, and it will also be hard to see what's going on whilst everything is trying to kill you.
- Painfully-Slow Projectile: Orb Launcher. Unlike the Homing Missiles and Ring Mines, you can't shoot them down.
- RPG Elements:
- The game remembers your scores from each song and treats them as experience points, with levels having the names naval ranks such as cadet and commander. Prior to the "Ultra Patch" each level afforded you a tangible bonus, such as extra starting lives or Smart Bombs. Reaching max rank let you start off with the Beat Hazard Super Mode on!
- The Ultra patch changed the always-enabled levelup awards into a perks system giving you 3 slots (which can be increased to 8 with Ultra installed) to equip perks in, and you'll have to upgrade perks separately. Additionally, the expansion pack will also add a handful of perks, mostly pertaining to new weapons.
- Scoring Points: What's it all about, dude.
- Self-Imposed Challenge: The whole point.
- Serial Escalation: Cold Beam previously implemented a slider to turn down the intense visuals (with a decrease in point scoring to match). As of the Ultra pack, it can be turned up to 150% or even 200%. Some people want it to go up to 500%.
- Sheathe Your Sword: Wait a few seconds without shooting and you'll get a Dare Devil bonus which increases your multiplier. Holding fire for a minute gives an achievement.
- Shout-Out: One of the perks is called Jamie Wants Big Boom.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: Try shooting ships to Michael Giacchino's Married Life theme from Up sometime.
- Theme Music Power-Up: Going from a soft section to a loud section of a song (or from a soft to loud song in Survival mode) results in this- for you and the enemies!
- The Power of Rock: Throw on your favorite rock song and go to town.
- Title Drop: The Super Mode caused by maxing out Volume and Weapon Power at the same time is called Beat Hazard.
- Wave Motion Gun: The Ultra Beam.
- The ones that actually aim at you or just to the side of you