Rhythm games, with their simple gameplay, always have been a favorite for mobile games. With the introduction of the iPod Touch, Apple’s App Store had Tap Tap Revenge, the most downloaded app in 2008. In the same year, Rhythm Star gained great popularity in Korea. Over the years, newer games and styles for rhythm games have developed to fully use the potential of touch screens in mobile gaming. In this issue of App Comparison, I’ll be comparing a rhythm game that I deem to be one of the best so far, and another rhythm game that failed to live up to its name value.
Voez, developed by Rayark, may be one of the best rhythm games available for free. A Taiwanese company established in 2011, Rayark has produced other high-quality rhythm games such as Cytus and Deemo, which all provide different gameplay and fresh content while being free-to-play.
Cytus, Rayark’s first rhythm game, had strong and unique gameplay compared to traditional rhythm games. Rayark’s other game, Deemo, follows more traditional gameplay, but the cutscenes and storytelling of the game made it an intriguing rhythm game. However, one large annoyance with both games was the 60-second cooldown period before every round, which could be removed by buying the game — an understandable feature considering the quality of the graphics, but still quite a nuisance.
Voez combines the strengths of Cytus and Deemo, making it probably the best game out of the three. At first, I thought the gameplay of Voez was similar to your generic rhythm game — gameplay with a fixed line to tap the notes falling from stationary lanes — and was almost disappointed at Rayark. However, I was pleased to see the lanes suddenly shift and change colors in the middle of the game synchronized to the beat of the music, making it much more enjoyable to play. Although its storytelling is weaker than Deemo in that it utilizes illustrations instead of cutscenes, the biggest improvement is probably the motivation to play the game. Players cannot play all of the songs in the game. The playable songs change weekly, but what makes this game addicting is that it gives players a chance to permanently unlock a song without using money. After playing a song well, the player gains points used to unlock new songs. In my opinion, this reward structure results in a win-win situation for the player and the game developers. If the player is not skillful, they have no choice but to wait each week for a new song or pay to unlock songs. However, if they are skilled, they can unlock whatever song they like. As a player who enjoys a challenge, I was motivated more by this structure and it kept me as a frequent user of the app for months. Games like these, with original gameplay and effective reward structures, serve as models for game developers.
A touchscreen version of the popular 2008 feature phone game, Rhythm Star, targeted the nostalgia of users years ago by rehashing familiar, old songs while also adding new songs. It made me say “aw” at the first song, which was identical to the first song from the original game. After that, the first few levels passed in a moment with bursts of reminiscence of my elementary school years playing this game. However, as I progressed through the game, I noticed a few problems that made me feel that this game would not succeed its predecessor. Firstly, it did not have the charm of the first game. When the original version came out, it was one of the first of its market and the joy of clicking the number buttons on the feature phone was one of the primary reasons the game was so fun. The new touch version fails to recreate that sensation and over-complicates its gameplay with characters that give bonus points depending on their rarity — naturally leading to the second problem of the game. The creators of the game were too greedy with the aspect of easily-spent money in mobile games. A large portion of the points now relies on the aforementioned characters, which are obtained randomly through a lottery. While players can roll this lottery for free with perseverance, the chances of receiving a useful character are too low and with the stamina system the game has, it blatantly tries to force the user into using money to gain stamina or buy in-game currency. Lastly, unlike the original game, which included famous pop songs at the time, the new version only has classical songs and EDM from obscure artists, making the gameplay much blander. To sum up the review of this rhythm game, the creators failed to live up to the original game and created a mess that insults even the shadow of its former self. Games like these smear the reputation of the Korean game industry.