For most of my life, I’ve loved music. I fondly remember opening up my father’s super-rare limited edition Miles Davis CD collection (sorry for killing the resale value, Dad), and I’ve always had a soft spot for jazz and swing in particular. That’s why Beatbuddy grabbed my attention. Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians is a platformer set in a fantastical underwater kingdom in which you play as a bright blue ethereal being with great taste in music. While I entered the game with plenty of enthusiasm, I have to say that I left it feeling tremendously disappointed- with good reason.
Beatbuddy upset me because it contains a single game-breaking glitch that absolutely ruined my experience- I’m going to talk about this first. It happened to me in the middle of a level- I was just going my merry way when I was induced to hop into a dangerous-looking dieselpunk submarine- it was something I’d done before and it was part of the game, so I did it. Unfortunately, as soon as I got in, I couldn’t move it. My controls inexplicably stopped working, and nothing I did would fix them- the only way to get things back to normal would be to restart the game. Trouble is, I didn’t want to do that- the reason being that this wasn’t the first time this happened to me while playing. I was playing the Mac version of the game- I can’t say for certain whether this affects the Linux and Windows versions of the game, but it ruined the experience for me. Beyond this, there were also some severe performance issues- the game was very slow to start, and there were occasional moments of slowdown, in spite of my system meeting the requirements.
With that out of the way, Beatbuddy is a very fun game- it’s a platformer with elements of rhythm games- you’ll have to do things like attack and move to the beat of the music in order to succeed- while the concept’s not completely new, I feel that Beatbuddy implemented it extremely well. Learning to play the game was quite simple- that’s something I appreciated about the gameplay. It wasn’t just straight platforming either- there were a few puzzles which, while not particularly complex, did require a bit of thought. It’s easy to forget about, but because Beatbuddy is set underwater, there’s an interesting freedom of motion that takes a little getting used to- being able to move anywhere (that’s not a wall) is a nice departure from other platformers that bind players to the pull of gravity.
Aesthetically, Beatbuddy is rather decent- while I did encounter an occasional issue with certain things “popping” out of place, everything looked good. Admittedly, the game’s protagonist, Beatbuddy, looks a little funny for some reason- he seems to stand out a little bit too much- though I have to say that his idle animation is adorable; he dances around when you’re not controlling him. The environments of Beatbuddy are gorgeous and surreal- it’s as if an art exhibition collided with the Great Barrier Reef, and somebody was inspired to make a video game out of it. While the game is visually excellent, Beatbuddy really stands out for having a fantastic soundtrack. A nice variety of artists created music for the game- Austin Wintory (responsible for the music in Journey), Parov Stelar, Sabrepulse, La Rochelle Band- they’re all here. The end result is the funkiest game I’ve ever played- to be honest, it was Parov Stelar that pulled me in (I have a soft spot for swing), and it was the great way that the songs were integrated into gameplay that convinced me to stay. I have no complaints regarding the music- there’s a great variety of upbeat tunes.
I found the presentation of Beatbuddy to be a bit lacking; while it did a decent job at teaching me how to actually play the game, I wasn’t impressed by much aside from the visuals, music and some aspects of gameplay. There was something off-putting about the title screen- the prompt informing me to “Press Any Key to Continue” was written out in a rather nasty white letters. This may sound like nit-picking, and to a degree it is, as it’s not much of a big deal, but it looked terrible. It’s nothing that ruins the game, but it does break the atmosphere early on. That being said, the atmosphere comes back as soon as the ugly letters vanish- it’s nothing to worry about.
Overall, Beatbuddy is a fun platformer- the musical element of the game is well implemented, the levels are beautiful, and the music is absolutely perfect. If you’re playing on PC, you probably shouldn’t run into any issues. If you’re on a Mac, however, you might run into a certain game-breaking glitch. It’s a game I recommend cautiously.