The music rhythm genre has become more minute over the last few years, following the slow demise of Rockband and Guitar Hero. Multiplayer focused music experiences have taken a backseat for quality single player titles that utilise music to enhance their gameplay aesthetics, such as the impressive Sound Shapes and Bit. Trip.
Seaven Studios, the developer behind last year’s Ethan: Meteor Hunter, has teamed up with TurboDindon in order to develop a new 2D music platformer known as Inside My Radio. Originally a small prototype, Inside My Radio is being developed into a full release. Bringing forth the rhythmic button presses of Guitar Hero, alongside the impressive platforming elements of Sound Shapes, Inside My Radio seems to combine aspects from all music based titles into one formula. Having experienced a small vertical slice of the Inside My Radio’s alpha build, the formula certainly seems to be heading in the right direction.
Inside My Radio has players control a little green creature that lives inside a broken boombox, with the player tasked with making their way through this very boombox in order to repair it from the inside. In terms of story, this is the basic premise for your actions throughout the game, with only a couple of short un-voiced cut scenes showcased in my small time with Inside My Radio. Telling a compelling story isn’t the focus here, instead, providing a rhythmic gameplay experience is Inside My Radio’s key selling point.
When controlling our green creature I was able to jump over obstacles, dash across chasms and slam through barriers, however this isn’t as easy as it seems. Every movement must take place within the rhythm of the soundtrack being played throughout each stage. If you don’t jump alongside the beat, your jump won’t register, making you either stay in one position or falling to your demise. Thankfully Inside My Radio is fairly lenient in terms of death, with a multitude of checkpoints scattered throughout the tougher platforming segments.
Controlling our character alongside the beat of the music is an interesting concept, though it doesn’t quite work all the time. There were many times when I believed I was in-line with the musical track, only to find my character falter at the last second, apparently out of time with the beat. Inside My Radio focuses on sound to portray the beat of the music, though some minor background objects also try to provide visual cues for when players must utilise their abilities. The lack of a visual indicator explaining how exactly you became out of time doesn’t help to portray what exactly you’re doing wrong, which led to some frustration during sections requiring a string of in-time manoeuvres.
After experiencing these stages multiple times I found becoming invested in the soundtrack helped, but there were still times where I was at a loss as to which beat was considered in-time. When frustrations did become apparent, I was able to simply mash the necessary button in order to make my way through sections of the stage; defeating the purpose of playing the game the way it was intended.
Each stage throughout Inside My Radio focuses on a different style of music, with Disco and Electro included in this early build. Entering each stage will not only see a different selection of music, but the visual style of the world changes accordingly. During the Electro section the world around us had a dark visual style, with electrified traps scattered throughout the stage; mixing with the Electro aesthetic perfectly. While the Disco stage had an energetic and playful demeanor, which was showcased with some interesting Easter eggs.
During the level I encountered three dressing rooms that housed three musical performers, these were Elvis Presley, Madonna and Daft Punk. When choosing to open one dressing room the others would close and the music would change depending on the artist and their style of music. This change didn’t just effect this area, the musical change effected the entire remainder of the level. This minor audio evolution of the Disco stage left me wondering if these effects will take place throughout other stages, which I certainly hope is the case.
Both stages also had their own unique gameplay mechanics. During Electro I was tasked with collecting items in order to access new areas, while Disco forced me to alternate switches in order to please a bouncer before I could pass. Though small changes, the differences provided new ways to progress through each different genre of music.
After never experiencing the original Inside My Radio prototype I was expecting something similar to Sound Shapes and, although there are small consistencies, Inside My Radio forced me to have an appreciation of musical sounds. However, the game could certainly improve the way it showcases the in-time components of music in future builds. Inside My Radio doesn’t have a release date at this time, but it will be coming to PC and consoles “When it’s done.”