reviews\ Aug 12, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Groove Coaster Review


When I heard that the team behind Space Invaders: Infinity Gene was going to try its luck with a music/rhythm game, I was definitely curious. After all, if these guys could remix the classic shmup in such a provocative style, what could they possibly have up their sleeves for this next genre? The answer—plenty. Groove Coaster is proof.

In this wildly inventive iPad/iPhone game, your job is to simply follow along with a star-shaped icon as it travels along a solid line. Beacons will appear on this line as you move forward, and you’ll need to tap on the screen as the icon passes over them perfectly. Doing so will keep the beat of the current song going. It’s easy at first, but each new song presents a diabolical new challenge, whether it’s a path that twists in unexpected direction or the sudden appearance of several beacons that need to be hit in succession.

What makes Groove Coaster so much fun is its soundtrack. Taito could’ve easily taken the lazy way out and just reprogrammed some of its classic music library. It does this for a couple of tracks—including Space Invaders and Arkanoid (!)—but the rest are surprisingly well-mixed jazz and dance compilations that will make you want to plug in your headphones to get a real appreciation for them. What’s more, the game presents a gorgeous visual styling to go with each song, as tricky as it may get on the higher difficulty. You won’t want to take your eyes off the screen. For further measure, you can also customize your visual stylings in the game’s sub-menu, if you feel like going for something different.

With a vivid presentation, a strong supply of songs, and solid gameplay that never lets up (even with the basic touch procedures), Groove Coaster has a lot going for it. There’s also an innovative end credit sequence to play along with, full support on GameCenter for Achievements, and extra songs available via DLC for about a buck a pop. That sounds like a rip-off at first, but considering the original game goes for a paltry $2.99, you get everything you can possibly experience for roughly $10 or so—with more songs on the way to boot.

Groove Coaster not only offers one of the most elegant music/rhythm experiences you’ll find on a mobile platform, it also opens the door for a possible new franchise, one that can take Taito in some great new directions. We’d love to see a version of Groove Coaster pop up on consoles, with more songs, more modes, and other goodies. For now, though, this is an excellent start—and an iPad/iPhone game you can’t afford to miss.


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