I had written off Tunescape upon my first viewing. “Another Geometry Wars-style game?” flew through my mind, as I looked at the screenshots. But upon play, you’ll find out that this game is, first off, nothing like geometry wars, and secondly, quite a solid game in it’s own right!
In Tunescape, you play a neon-lit circle, that must consume colored bits of various sizes, that emerge from a moving spawn point. Gathering more and more bits to score. The rate at which these are dispersed is timed with the beat of the music that themes each stage. You have until the end of the song, to collect as much as you can.
Sounds pretty basic, right? But that’s the beauty. It’s very simple in design, yet harbors layers of depth.
For starters, not only does each bit you collect gives score, but they also fill gauges displayed within your avatar. These gauges are for the following powers:
- Yellow provides you with shield energy (used by pressing the “Y” button)
- Green provides you with a speed boost (used by pressing “A”)
- Blue uses a “Gravity” skill (“X” button) that draws all colored bits in the vicinity towards you.
Along the way, you’ll also see stars that, when gathered, give you a score multiplier. This multiplier is directly related to how many stars you‘ve collected. In contrast, there are also Red Meteors, which will steal any stars they make contact with away from you, lowering the score multiplier.
All these little details work wonderfully together. When you see the first step of the games fantastic tutorial, you might believe Tunescape to be way too simple. But as each feature is introduced, you learn to appreciate how much thought there is behind obtaining pieces, powering up abilities, and gathering and maintaining multipliers.
You’ll have to master these things well, in order to access the games 8 stages. Starting with only the first 2, you have to obtain high enough scores to earn the 3 bonus stars of each level. Obtaining these unlocks the successive stages. Getting all 3 per stage will require maintaining high multipliers throughout as much of each stage as possible, and that’s quite challenging.
Adding on to this challenge, you’ll surprisingly also find gameplay variants in a few of these stages. One of the first requires you to control a secondary circle that pulls along your usual avatar, slinging it about by a tether. It’s a nice change of pace, and these variants add a lot to the overall experience.
Additional features of note include the ability to play any stage with up to 4 players, in either cooperative or competitive styles. You can also use any music accessible by your 360’s media library as a theme to create a stage. This works out incredibly well; the waves of bits spawn upon the beat of the music, and the special effects match up very well. I found just as much worth fighting through my own music, as I found in playing the quality tunes included with the game.
All of this comes in an inexpensive 80 point package! The amount of variety was better than I expected, and it all seemed very well put together. Even the credits screen is designed to be something of a bonus stage for the game!
Tunescape might have begun as a simple Geo-wars-alike in my mind, but in the end, I was left thinking “This is one of the best musically themed games I’ve played!”