Soundodger+ developed and produced by Studio Bean released on Steam as of Oct 11. Originally on Adult Swim Games this combination of “bullet hell” (games in which the player must navigate a tiny avatar against a seemingly endless hail of enemies that can kill in a touch) and rhythm gaming seeks to spice up the latter genre with the “bullet hell” flair. Soundodger+ consists of the simple activity of having the player move a small circle within a larger circle while trying to dodge flying triangles and other shapes. The simple enough concept is mixed up by the fact that the enemy shapes come to the beat of the background music and come at the player in varying speeds and attack patterns to turn a simple task into a nightmarish gauntlet of hand-eye coordination.
Soundodger+ in which you are a circle dodging triangles to a wide variety of catchy beats. Initially an Adult Swim flash game, the development team expanded upon the winning formula to turn Soundodger into Soundodger+ by enhancing the overall mechanics, enriching the experience with new tracks and ultimately fine-tuning the product to make it fit for a price tag. Ultimately there is no story to the game other than beating the levels to unlock new levels (and songs). This offers unlimited replay value not only through the selection of songs inherent in Soundodger+, but also the ability to use the player’s music library to create new levels generated by the chosen song.
Needless to say “bullet hell” is titled thusly for a reason. Constant focus and dexterity are required to truly master this style of gaming, and the catchy tunes of Soundodger+ definitely help. Typical “bullet hell” style games offer you comfort only in the sound of enemy movement and bullet fire as adrenaline runs high, but Adult Swim saw a different approach to the formidable gameplay style by instead soothing the player with relaxing music and catchy beats to assist in the fast-paced gameplay. Images of “bullet-hell” games are at first horrifying as it appears there is no possible way to dodge the vast amounts of bull being slung at the player’s avatar. The trick is to understand that the avatar can be hit, and even touch the enemies and their fire, just so long as the dead center remains untouched. The outer areas of the circle (controlled by the player) in Soundodger+ can touch the arrows, just so long as the arrow’s tip doesn’t come into contact with the circle’s dead center. While still challenging, this does offer a lot of wiggle room in avoiding contact with the sea of enemies. There are of course varying degrees of challenge in the levels, but ultimately the game is very forgiving in its “grade” given out at the end of each track. Accumulated “grade” percentage unlocks new levels and so on and so forth, and on top of that, every level beaten unlocks “Zen Mode” for said level. Zen Mode is essentially just a “no worries” play through of the track, there is no score, no losing percentage by being hit, it’s simply an enjoyment of the song and the visuals with no strings attached. Zen mode offers the ability to simply enjoy the songs of Soundodger+ without worrying about those nasty arrows.
Simple shapes and basic colors offer Soundodger+ a very easy to navigate game screen that allows for a quick to learn, hard to master style. Colors are kept distinct to ensure an ease of navigation by the player of their circular avatar, and quick recognition of incoming enemy shapes and their direction. The color choice is really impressive in Soundodger+ to an indescribable level, in a game where the ability to recognize incoming enemies at high speeds is a must, color is by far the most crucial graphical choice, and this excellence mixed with distinct shapes makes a superb visual show indeed. Not letting sound play second-fiddle, the development team picked a wide variety of musical talents to lend their skill to creating the fun and diverse group of tracks to server as the game’s audio backdrop. The songs vary in speed, style and selection to a point where this is most definitely something for everyone. This mixed with the ability for player’s to add their own favorite song tracks as well as enjoy the game in “Zen Mode” creates an amazing atmosphere for both visuals and sound.
Soundodger+ is a definite buy for anyone who loves music. For just the average gamer off the street, it’s a 50/50 shot. The game is a lot of fun and will definitely keep you entertained as well as allow a quick reprieve from work, but gamer-be-warned it can quickly become an incredibly challenging game. On that note, fans of “bullet hell” style games will also find a fair level of challenge here, it is by no stretch of the imagination the most challenging “bullet hell” game of all time, but it definitely puts up a strong and exciting fight. Typically selling for $7.99 (unless one of steam’s infamous sales is afoot) Soundodger+ is a wonderful buy that is sure to keep your wallet in a “Zen Mode” of its own.