Beatbuddy
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Our headphone-wearing protagonist meditates the situation

Platformer games nowadays are never really complex to the point of ruining the feeling that gamers seek when playing them; sit back, relax and play a simple but fun game. That being said, BeatBuddy: Tale of the Guardians succeeds in bringing to the table a simplistic and entertaining couple-of-hours gametime, in case you're running out of interesting games from your catalogue.

The game is set in a distant fantasy world called Symphonia, which naturally flows thanks to music, and is sustained by Harmony, Melody and Beat, three beings that dream music into the planet's roots, and nourish it, or so they say. The protagonist this time is Beat, one of the three BeatBuddies. He is alerted by his sister, Melody, that the music is being stolen, and Symphonia is on the verge of collapse. He sets off to an underwater adventure, where a lively environment full of threats puts his life on risk.

The level design is rather repetitive, you'll usually travel through either tight halls or big, empty rooms, solving puzzles and slapping baddies. The puzzles might feel familiar at times, but at the very least they are challenging enough to make an average level last around an hour, albeit there aren't more than six or seven levels. Swimming through snares, following a discrete beat will get you the perfect timing to avoid injuries. Parasites traffic also clog the stages, in which case you'll have to make your way in the line and keep moving according to the tunes and music. Each level plays a different, mesmerizing track. 

BeatBuddy had me foot-tapping several times. Quite likely because it is a rhythmic game, whose gameplay is based around the idea of following beats and tunes to get the most out of your moves. Often, neglecting the harmonies thrown at you results in an utter failure, which involves you restarting from the last checkpoint. More than the danger of dying trying, you'll spend most of the time trying to figure out where to place that one switch you just picked, or how to get to that remote area where the exit is located.

Our hero Beat stumbles across unexpected characters, which may or may not help him in taking down Prince Maestro, a scenic typical villain that wants to own Symphonia's music and use it for his own purposes. Story-wise, BeatBuddy hold its own, although it won't go beyond a platformer basic storytelling.

About a third of the game consists of driving a Bubblebuggy around, shooting your way out and breaching otherwise inaccessible surfaces. While in the bubblebuggy, you move slower than you do when diving, but it is safer inside those metal walls, not to mention your healthbar will regenerate with time that way. Worry not, you easily find health inside breakable containers should a parasite damage your well-being. Unfortunately that's not the only problem you'll find during your journey.

While playing, you'll likely face random framerate drops, and you'll be teleporting across the stage. Not only does it ruin the smooth musical flux of the gameplay, but it actually can get you killed, since timing is kind of a big deal in BeatBuddy. This technical issue appears to occur at any moment, and doesn't seem to be specific to any level or area of the game. If it catches you when there are a lot of characters on the screen, a big lag will then force you to restart from a checkpoint, unless you really want to keep playing said part with a crippled framerate.

The keyboard controls are far from spectacular, while the mouse bindings make it more awkward to play. Ghosting is a frequent obstacle, and the movement seems rough at times, but considering you are underwater, I suppose logic backs up the lack of fluidity when swimming around. There aren't a lot of keys to press, other than your regular directional keys, hit button and interact button. 

If you can overlook these things, you will certainly enjoy a game with immersive visuals and wonderful music. Artists like Austin Wintory deliver great tracks for BeatBuddy, after all what's a music-based game without a good music score? Not much, I tell you.

BeatBuddy: Tale of the Guardians is not a bad game, but the gameplay and performance issues bring it down, despite the amazing soundtrack and original concept. You can find it in Steam for $15 bucks, and you can squeeze 6 to 7 hours of fun puzzling and beat buddying.

Green environments, dark backstories