Reviewlet: Beat Hazard

There’s been an enorm-o-sale on at Steam for the past couple of weeks that I’ve been furiously not posting about in a desperate attempt to avoid adding yet more games to the big pile o’ stuff I hardly have time to play. I was doing quite well, partly due to the plethora of offers giving a paradox of choice, partly due to having a bunch of stuff from previous sales, until I finally succumbed and bought The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom on the recommendation of Melmoth, a couple of packs of Borderlands DLC (skipping Mad Moxxi’s Underdome on the recommendation of Jon Shute), Tropico 3 and Beat Hazard. Less than £20, all-in, a comparative flesh wound by Steam sale standards.

Beat Hazard is what I’d describe as “a bit like Asteroids“, in the modern parlance I understand it to be a Bullet Hell Shmup (true aficionados would doubtless sneer at the paltry number of bullets on screen, though, maybe “Bullet Drat” or “Bullet Heck” would be more apt). Like Everyday Shooter it’s a music-based shoot ’em up, but it uses your own MP3 collection like Audiosurf. The power of your guns, and intensity of the enemy attacks, are based on the volume of the music, which can lead to interesting gameplay when an otherwise-frantic track has a few quiet moments and your magnificent blazing lasers of death suddenly turn into pop-guns.

The visuals are stunning, fields of colour pulsating in time with the beat, especially as you power up your weapons in a particularly intense song. Definitely one to avoid if you have issues with photo-sensitivity, otherwise revel in the psychedelia.

As with Audiosurf it has the perfect gameplay chunk size, you can have a quick blast in a spare five minutes (or a spare 23 seconds for a couple of early Napalm Death tracks), but the “… just one more song” factor can easily keep you working through your MP3 collection for a couple of hours. Without the audio it would be a decent enough shmup but not really enough to keep me coming back, with a soundtrack of such unquestionable taste it’s definitely worth a couple of quid.

10 thoughts on “Reviewlet: Beat Hazard

  1. Caspian

    Was it Napalm Death (or some other metal-esque / grindcore / death metail) band that put many dozens of songs on an album? I believe that several of the songs were under 3 seconds in length…

    That’d introduce some variety to your game playing, although it’s likely to be prohibitively expensive to buy it track by track from iTunes…

    Incidentaly, I too got waylaid by the Steam sale – I currently have enough potential games to last until the end of the world (assuming the Mayan’s are right…)

  2. Zoso Post author

    I just checked iTunes, rather hilariously the 1.06 seconds of “You Suffer” from Scum would indeed set you back 79p as an individual track, as would any of the individual Altered States of America tracks…

  3. Zoso Post author

    And lead others into the path of temptation? (Plus I only just got it downloaded & fired up…)

  4. xbevisx

    ooh Mastodon, good choice, Sir.

    Also for a challenge try Dillenger Escape Plan. Album : Calculating Inifinty

  5. Aaron

    @xbevisx – I’ll give that a try.

    Has anyone managed to get the achievement for not firing for a whole minute? I’ve managed 40 seconds before panic sets in and I shoot something.

  6. Zoso Post author

    I had to turn it down to Easy for “Don’t Panic”, otherwise the screen was totally full after about 45 seconds!

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