The XNA Game Studio provided by Microsoft is a unique tool that is allowing independent developers to showcase their games through the Xbox Live Marketplace. I say showcase, but in all honesty they are just hidden away under a tab that not very many people can even find. When I did venture in, I discovered a gem simply known as Groov. The way I look at music games will never quite be the same.
Music games such as Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band are not really new anymore. Matching up corresponding button presses with the “chart” as it moves across a certain part of the field is an old idea now. As it continues to be overdone, the success of the sales of the games that use dance pads, microphones, and plastic instruments will continue to decline. However that does not mean that music does not belong in video games.
A creative take on the music genre of gaming is a little title simply known as Groov. There is not much known about the creator of this title. As most indie games, a “nobody” is the creator. However the developer simply known as Barryman has hit onto an aesthetic that is at the very least a concept to be explored.
Groov takes its gameplay roots from Geometry Wars. It is a frantic dual-stick shooter that makes you feel more like the director of a techno-jazz orchestra as you should down the different enemies swarming you. As you hit enemies they’ll turn white, and on the next beat of the song they disappear into obscurity. The three levels are built like a song, and as it continues to build you gain faster shooting, and larger sized bullets.
Each of the enemies on the screen make a sound as they’re shot, which allows for each play through to sound completely different. The base melody is the same, but the horns, harmonies, voice, and drum beats change every single time. Needless to say, every action has a musical reaction.
It is too small of a game to thoroughly review. There are not any special modes, or extra features. It is an experiment in music that will hopefully become a fully-fleshed title. It is a lot of fun, and worth the price. Do your part and try it out for only 200 Microsoft Points.