There's been a lot of talk about how the music genre just isn't doing as well as it used to. Yes, Beatles Rock Band is a major hit, and people still love Guitar Hero. DJ Hero hasn't caught on, though. It seems that gamers might very well be getting plastic instrument fatigue.
Is it any wonder? Years of essentially the same game over and over is wearing people down. Is it all about pushing colored buttons as lights cascade down the screen? As addictive as it is, there's more to music than rock, and there's more to gameplay than timing.
Despite the popularity and variety in music, few attempts have been made to marry it to different types of gameplay. We'd like to see that change.
Sony's Patapon for the PSP takes the metaphor of battle drums and applies it to strategy game. Rez HD, on the other hand, marries the beat to a transcendent shooting experience.
In its latest game design exercise, Game Career Guide challenged its readers to use music as a core gameplay mechanic in a creative and integral way.
What follows are the best and most original entries we received. Here are our top picks:
Paolo Tajè, Software Developer, .Rhythm.Robot.Step.Loop. (see page 2) .Rhythm.Robot.Step.Loop. is a puzzle-platformer in which players must compose a brief piece of music in order to guide a robot through a series of obstacles. The result feels like a mix between Scribblenauts and the music composition portion of Mario Paint.
Leonardo Ferreira, PUC - Rio, Brazil, Beat Bots (see page 3)
Ferreira proposes a tower defense-styled strategy game based around the concepts of musical harmony and balance. Different types of music will grant the Beat Bots with useful characteristics, and it's up to players to create harmonious melodies to progress through each level.
Dean Ray Johnson, Song Shooter (see page 4)
Dean Ray Johnson outlines a shooter in which every element is based on the tempo, pitch, and amplitude of any song from a user's music library. Many of the ideas here have been attempted in other games, but few can claim such depth and attention to all aspects of music.
Honorable Mentions "Jez," Bug Boogie (see page 5) Charles Reimers, Senior Software Engineer, Bad Vibes (see page 6) Mackenzie Peterson, Front Range Community College in Colorado (see page 7) Vladimir Villanueva, Artist, The Dreaded Raven Song (see page 8) Elendil "Shin" Cañete and Michaelangelo Lee, Crescendo Flow (see page 9)