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Cosmic DJ: Select. Tap. Sequence. Submit the Jam...

Company: Devolver Digital

Music... Versus... Game... Fight!:

Playing games and playing music are, generally, two different things. When you shoot somewhere in the middle, there can be a variety of outcomes. On one end of the spectrum, games like Frequency or Guitar Hero are heavily timing-based, and the sound of the music is changed based on your gameplay, but you're not really creating music, just playing well enough for the music to sound good. Games like MTV's Music Generator, on the other hand, give you the tools to create music of your very own... but have no real scoring structure. It's really not a "game" at all.

Cosmic DJ presents itself on the "game" side of things and, based on the limited amount of variety you can actually affect, it belongs there, but unlike Guitar Hero or similar games, you can actually set the rhythm and progressions to be what you want. So, you actually are participating in the creation of the music, not simply determining whether or not it will sound good by playing a rhythm game.

Further, there are two different ways to lay down a track: sequencing it on a grid or using the keyboard like an electronic drum pad, of sorts, to tap out notes at the time in the music where you want that sound to occur. While making a mistake using the Tap method can make music that sounds different from what you were trying for, you can remove unwanted notes when in the Grid Mode, allowing you to correct your mistakes, so you're under much less pressure than, say Guitar Hero or Rock Band.

80's-tacular 8-Bit Jammin':

Cosmic DJ plants tongue firmly in cheek and presents characters that are over-the-top caricatures of characters from the 80's, with a bit of radio DJ thrown in for good measure. Your guide, STEVE3, looks more than a little bit like a bit from Tron and the animations of the different stages have 8-bit graphics, muppets and two-frame animation of a corgi that has become an end boss in a videogame. Insane? Why, of course, but that's what happens when you're out to save the universe with (Radio Announcer Voice)"The POWER of MUSIC!!!"

Takin' It to 11:

The "scoring system" in Cosmic DJ seems to be all about "more is more." There is a meter that shows the awesomeness of your jam and you have to get your jam's awesomeness up to a certain threshold to beat the level. The background features animation depicting your progress in the current mission and, as you fill up the meter, the animation advances, showing your progress. The reason I put "scoring system" in quotes, however, is because your progress is completely driven by adding more notes. You seem to get a bit of a bump as you add in more instruments as well, but basically, adding more notes builds your score, regardless of what the outcome sounds like. You can use the Grid interface and turn on every note on every instrument and end up with something that sounds less like music and more like some sort of alarm going off, but you would achieve a full meter, so take the idea of "scoring" with a grain of salt and just focus on crafting some sweet tunes, maaaan!

...Then Takin' It with You:

Once you've completed a "mission," the game will need a little bit of time to mix-down your tracks into a final song. During this time, Cosmic DJ keeps you occupied by letting you create cover art for your song. I found this to be a fun and interesting mini-"game," but don't get too wrapped up in the cover art creation process, because you only have until the sound processing is complete; the art editor stops as soon as the music is ready. Once your song is done, you have the option to output the file as an MP3, which you can then listen on your PC outside of the game or on any device that will play MP3s, for that matter. Additionally, there is a menu in the game that will let you listen to the tracks you've previously created if you save them.

The sample provided in the early version shows promise, but a full game would need many more stages to play with and, to be good, the other stages would have to be able to keep up the retro-nostalgic, over-the-top tongue-in-cheek hilarity and randomness. I'm anxious to see what the full game will turn out like.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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