Anyone who downloaded the iTunes 7.5 last week probably noticed something in the change list about a new game called Phase. It’s now out on the iTunes Store (link), priced at £3.99, and it’s a rhythm game from Harmonix.
Yes, that Harmonix. And yes, it’s an iPod game.
It’s basically Amplitude in miniature, and it’s made all the more impressive by the fact that it allows you to import your own music. Hopefully this is an indication of where we’ll be going with the next Rock Band – or the next Amplitude? – because if an iPod can do that analysis of a song (actually it’s iTunes that does the analysis, but let’s not be so pedantic that I ruin my point) there’s certainly no reason that a modern console can’t do it. It’s probably the only possible feature that would make me entertain paying £170 for Rock Band.
The quality of the experience really depends on the music – dance music and anything with a prominent, repeating rhythm works well; more subtle music not so much – but when it works well it works very well and what it could represent for the future of Harmonix’s rhythm games is very exciting. I just hope that the implementation of mass DLC in Rock Band doesn’t cause dollar signs to blind them to the potential of importing one’s music collection manually.
Phase isn’t as good as Guitar Hero or Amplitude, but on this showing I see potential in bespoke iPod games that the ever-nascent mobile phone gaming market continually fails to fulfill. And Guitar Hero and Amplitude, least of all Rock Band, aren’t £3.99, are they?