0D Beat Drop is quite the peculiar game. I can just picture how this game came to life. On one hand, developer Cyclone Zero has your typical “rhythm” game and on the other hand your typical puzzle game. The developer made a conscious decision to close those hands and in doing so created what can most likely be called the world’s first “rhythm puzzle” game. But just how well do those two genres mesh together?
I think the most accurate metaphor would be to say that combining the two genres is like making a peanut butter and pudding sandwich. While some might appreciate the unique and somewhat tasty flavor, more then likely most people would chose to avoid that combination all together. 0D Beat Drop has a lot of things going for it but unfortunately the implementation of them is what makes the game fall a bit short.
The core game plays like a mix between Tetris, old school SNES game Kirby’s Avalanche’s puzzle elements, and Dance Dance Revolution’s soundtrack. You rotate colored blocks and combine three or more of them together at hopefully the right moment (read: beat) that will clear your screen and net you points. By clearing the right color you have the potential to also clear another color as well, creating a chain. The higher chains you string together, the higher your point total. When playing against an opponent (human or A.I.) the goal is not only to clear your screen but to mess up the other person’s screen by stringing together chains in order to drop “blockers” into their play field. One person loses when their play field reaches the top of the screen like in Tetris.
When you begin playing the game offers a simple “how to play” instructional section as a means of introducing you to the “block dropping to the beat” style of play. The problem is that it doesn’t do a very good job of explaining everything. The give you the basics and feel like you should figure out the rest for yourself. For example, many times while I was playing I was saved by a “hyper” chain that I had absolutely no idea how I pulled off or what it did exactly. The part about attacking the other opponent with chains wasn’t explicitly stated but it was easy enough to infer. The rest of the little ins and outs of the game could have benefited from better explanation as well because while most people who play the game will figure it out eventually, sometimes it’s best to explain everything to the point of exhaustion. Why? Because you won’t have people like me complaining about the lack of explanation. Kidding aside, the casual players who might pick up this game are the ones who would benefit from the instructions. Who wants to play a game where you don’t know how to control it completely? Definitely not casual players, but I digress.
While the game’s A.I. is programmed well, the ramp-up in difficulty across the settings seems a bit overdone. Even on easy it often feels like the A.I. is cheating. The computer will pull off combos and chains that clear their whole screen at once while earning them the aforementioned “hyper” ability and basically leaving you for dead. On the harder difficulties it feels like the game is taunting you. When you finally manage to have a good set-up in order to reach a 7 or higher chain the A.I. will absolutely DEMOLISH you with a set of blockers that crushes not only your play area but your spirit as well.
0D Beat Drop does have an excellent soundtrack however. The different tunes that you hear while playing keep you focused on the task at hand: winning. On some of the harder difficulties I would originally become frustrated by the A.I. but immediately be drawn back in by the song playing in the background and become motivated to win by any means necessary. A big feature of 0D Beat Drop is the ability for the game to analyze your own songs and make them playable in game. Nothing gets me more in the mood to drop some beats like “Block Rocking Beats” by The Chemical Brothers. But hey if you’d rather listen to Taylor Swift while you are playing then more power to you. The game won’t judge your taste in music.
Visually the game is what you would expect out of a puzzle game. The various colors and backgrounds are all there and most, if not all of them, are pretty aesthetically pleasing. Plus you can always make use of the DLC and download yourself a BlazBlue background to play on. The fact that the game makes use of your Xbox Live avatar is also a nice touch. The sweet sense of satisfaction that comes from winning is all the more pleasing when you can watch your opponent’s avatar put his or her head down in disappointment after a loss.
The different game modes are another great thing about the game. What would a puzzle game be if it didn’t have re-playability? Co-Op is fun with a human teammate but the A.I. partner can be kind of a drag. I don’t know how many times I lost the Co-Op with the CPU because of the CPU but it was many, many times. Time attack and task are also pretty fun and add to the longevity of the game.
All in all, 0D Beat Drop isn’t a bad game. A lot of enjoyment can be had from the title provided that you have friends. As a strictly single player game you are bound to be either frustrated or become quickly bored. But get some friends and you can have a lot of fun. 0D Beat Drop may be the first of its genre and for that it receives kudos, but there is always room for improvement.