Beat It: Turba

By John Walker on April 14th, 2010 at 5:35 pm.

Match-3 to music.

There’s not been as many mp3-based games following Audiosurf as you might have imagined, so the appearance of Turba is a pleasant one. It’s a combination of match-3 puzzling and music-influenced play that lets you compete for high scores based on any songs you may have on your hard drive.

By selecting aligned blocks of the same colour, a minimum of three, you can then eliminate them with the right mouse button. Bonuses are available for eliminating multiple colours of blocks at the same time, for using bonus blocks, etc, as you might expect. But less usual are the increased scores for removing blocks on the beat of the song you’re listening to. In fact, the rhythm plays a crucial part throughout, influencing the timing for the appearance of new blocks, lines dropping out, and so on.

What’s most peculiar here is that the game forces you to play five games of five different tracks in its worst mode before allowing you to play the decent versions of the game. Freeplay has the screen filled from the start, rows disappearing at the bottom of the screen every few beats, your task to simply get a high score in the process. It’s a frustrating way to play, the disappearing rows causing you to select blocks you didn’t intend to, and there’s not much satisfaction on offer. However, get through it five times and you’ll access Ascend, and here there’s a game.

This time blocks appear on screen with the beat of your tune, and once again you’re searching for groupings of three or more, highlighting them in coloured groups, and then deleting them ideally on the beat. It’s a much more rewarding way to play, you feel far more in control, and if playing on anything other than Beginner you’ll have to race to keep the screen empty or you’ll lose. But more importantly, it’s in this mode that your scores for individual tracks are uploaded to be competed with online. My score of So Sad by Lacrosse stands unbeaten (because no one else has played it yet) at 113,407. Which is rubbish. So go beat it.

More modes unlock as you play, but I’d seriously suggest to two-person development team Binary Takeover that they have them all unlocked immediately. Let players just play, not work through modes they might not enjoy for the right to get to stuff they want. Higher difficulty modes seem a sensible option to unlock for successful play, rather than limiting players’ options for fun from the start.

(One other annoyance – for some reason it doesn’t like how many hard drives I have (five) and won’t show me the fifth on its menu for choosing songs. You can get at them anyway using the in-built File Browser, but still, that scroll bar mocks me by ignoring it.)

It’s worth looking at, quickly entertaining, and of course with the added bonus of letting you compete against yourself or others to get top scores at particular tracks. It seems somewhat inevitable that at some point Kieron and Alec shall become competitive over who can hold a high score for Wuthering Heights. Match-3 may be as overdone as a school dinner roast, but setting it to music is a decent twist. Worth a look.

There’s a demo here, and you can get the full game for $10.

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22 Comments »

  1. LewieP says:

    I enjoyed this at PAX, even though I played it to coldplay.

    I interviewed Keith too:
    http://savygamer.co.uk/2010/03/31/boston-indie-showcase-where-everybody-knows-your-game/

  2. Clovis says:

    I can only play match three if it is combined with another genre, a la Puzzle Quest and Henry Hatsworth.

  3. ChaK_ says:

    the day a game has a partnership with deezer will be my day.

    I have no MP3, and I’m too lazy to rip my CDs.

  4. Oneironaut says:

    I love Audiosurf because it really feels like playing the song with all the changes to the course made by the music. From quickly trying the demo, this feels like a bad puzzle game with my music in the background. Also the demo is locked to only one mode, which appears to be the worst one, so I wasn’t enamored.

  5. Keith Morgado says:

    @Oneironaut

    I’m sorry you didn’t like the game but it doesn’t seem like you gave it a fair chance. There quite a bit of depth and challenge that we built into the game. And just playing one song/level is not going to give you a good impression of any game.

  6. Jonathan DeLong says:

    Wow thanks for the post John. I’m surprised that you did it so quickly! Admittedly Freeplay is our weakest mode. The game started as just that mode actually, but then it evolved into the other modes present. We’re really torn about what should be unlocked from the get go though. Feedback from IGF and other people suggested it was too overwhelming at the beginning with everything available, which is why we made it like this to begin with.

    As far as the file browser bug, we’ll go ahead and fix that on the double.

    Again thanks for the post! I’m glad you (seemingly) enjoyed the game for the most part =)

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      One can hope (or at least I) that it makes it’s way to MacOS at some point in time. I’ve been waiting for Audiosurf to cross, but that seems unlikely to happen. And it doesn’t have a demo..

      Sure, I could use Audiosurf now, but 99% of my music collection exists on my MacOS partition. Ah well.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Um. That wasn’t meant as a reply. My bad.

      Oh, and as Mistmanov said. The tutorial stops every time when you have to click to the left to activate the beat power (or whatever it is).

  7. Mistmanov says:

    In the demo, I can’t get past the “try out the special power by clicking to the left of the blocks” section of the tutorial. First time I clicked to the left of the blocks, I got some sound effect, and after that.. nothing.

    Anyway. My impression after playing 3 songs in the Ascend mode is that it’s a bit hard to judge what’s going on (ofcourse, that’s always going to be the case with a new game, but still). Especially: what does the game count as being “on the beat”? Just anytime there is a loud sound?

  8. Jonathan DeLong says:

    Hmm I’m not sure why the tutorial is bugged in the demo (it works fine in the full game and that code shouldn’t have changed going to the demo). Thanks for letting us know. I’m fixing it as we speak.

  9. Larfleeze says:

    Hrm, songs that are even slightly upbeat sure are hard in this. Almost feels unfairly fast.

  10. Keith Morgado says:

    The demo is now fixed for anyone else who was having trouble.

  11. SpakAttack says:

    I’m not being funny, but first the demo is bugged, now the demo download link on the website doesn’t work – I get an “The page you tried to access does not exist on this server” error.

    Can I expect the same level of attention to detail from the full game?

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      Easy there, cowboy. Have a little patience with them. Be glad they provide a demo and prove really responsive to fix bugs such as these.

  12. Jonathan DeLong says:

    I’m not sure why you couldn’t download the demo before (maybe you tried right when we were changing the link?), but it is fine now, and the bug is fixed. We also just released an update for the full game, which fixes the bug John mentioned about the file system (thanks!) and lowers the amount of songs you have to pass to unlock the other modes to just 1.

    • Shalrath says:

      “Page Not Found
      The page you tried to access does not exist on this server. This page may not exist due to the following reasons:
      You are the owner of this web site and you have not uploaded (or incorrectly uploaded) your web site. For information on uploading your web site using FTP client software or web design software, click here for FTP Upload Information.
      The URL that you have entered in your browser is incorrect. Please re-enter the URL and try again.
      The Link that you clicked on incorrectly points to this page. Please contact the owner of this web site to inform them of this situation.”

      Got this at 12:35 pm (PST) trying to download the demo.

    • Shalrath says:

      Annnnd now it works.

      Cheers!

  13. Snooglebum says:

    Am I supposed to get this screen when I download the demo?

    http://img690.imageshack.us/img690/5479/tubag.png

  14. Jonathan DeLong says:

    Hmm for some reason only the link on top of the blog for the demo download was changed. The ones on the home page linked to a link that no longer existed.

    Fixed now! I really hope this is the last blunder on our part :( .

  15. Shalrath says:

    Hot damn I am terrible at this game. I have no idea how the combo blocks work – everytime I use them I get minus points.

  16. Snooglebum says:

    It works now. Thankee-sai.

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