After reviewing the excellent AVICII Invector, I had found myself going back and enjoying a few older Rhythm Action titles. Titles such as Thumper, whilst also looking for new ones. So when Music Racer came on the radar I had to try it.
The concept is good, you pick a stylish looking car and follow the lanes to the music, hitting the points to the beat. All whilst avoiding the obstacles. Nothing ground-breaking, but then like the FPS genre, we expect certain things with this type of game.
Whilst Music Racer does the basics right and looks lovely. It makes a few mis-steps which stop it being a game I’d want to go back to on a regular basis. Ones that make you realise just how well other titles, such as Amplitude, have done get it so right.
The music is good, making it a decent listen as you play through each level and the visuals are unique enough to stand out from the crowd. Using a more recognisable vessel with cars, rather than spacecraft. Driving along the path and switching lanes in a neon infused trip.
The main issue comes from the camera. It hinders the game and undoes all the good from the setup with sound and aesthetics. The verticality of the tracks, the location of the markers and the camera position mean you are pretty much guessing where the next marker is.
You will be going over a crest and cannot see what lane you should be in, the next thing you know is you have got lucky and hit it, or unlucky and missed. Quickly reacting to what you finally saw and missing the next, before trying to get back into a groove.
Sure, one could argue that you need to learn the tracks and layout. However that isn’t my experience in any other rhythm action title. They are difficult, but I know it is down to my own ineptitude, rather than bad game design.
In Music Racer it feels different, almost like the game was designed with an aesthetics first approach. The markers you need to hit don’t feel like they actually fit with the beat, or follow the rhythm properly. It is hard to put my finger on exactly what it is.
Around the same time as trying this, I had also played Sayonara Wild Hearts, which shows up exactly where Music Racer fails to get things right. Both games have paths that are both full of verticality, but in Sayonara there is a clear indication of where you need to be at any one time, even if you mess up.
In Music Racers’ favour though, is that is does look great and it has a solid track listing. There is also very little punishment for not doing great, which meant I was able to push through and open up new tracks.
Because of this, I was happy to just play, caring little for my actual performance and enjoying the music and looks of the game. So I feel a little bad for spending time on the negatives.
Music Racer feels like it is a game that is 80% of the way to being an excellent game. But do you know something? Despite that main issue, I had a great time playing it.
Honestly, it is an odd thing and a reason I am glad I don’t give scores. Because for all the games faults, I have to say you will certainly find yourself enamoured with Music Racer.
It is available for anywhere between £2 to just over £6 depending on platform. To be fair, you will get value from the game at those costs. I can easily recommend it, even as a curio.