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Audiosurf: Now With More Science

There are plenty of plausible reasons to criticise Audiosurf. Unfortunately I’m almost entirely oblivious to them, as it’s doing such a wonderful job of fulfilling a very important purpose in my life – giving me a reason to do nothing other than listen to music while still feeling like I’m achieving something. I suspect I’d still be spending too long staring vacantly at iTunes visualisations if I didn’t own Audiosurf. It’s made me a better man.

Part of its charm is the never-know-what-you’re-gonna-get-next element. You’ll pick a song with a fair idea of whether it’s suitable, but often enough it’ll surprise- presenting a track that’s more elegantly undulated than expected, or instead a jerky, sick-making mess (I’d strongly advise against trying The Specials). Evan Merz, though, has gone beyond the guesstimation the rest of us use, paintstakingly creating midi music designed to specifically provoke certain track shapes and effects in the game.

“Each mp3 generates a specific, unique experience,” he tells us.”One is a lazy uphill ride, another is entirely downhill, and some are even more specifically designed.”

The special tracks, forming a suite eminently enjoyable in its own right, can be downloaded from here, where you’ll also find graphs detailing the kind of experience you’re in for. I’ve tried out Midnight, a rush of unblinking downhill adrenaline, and as well as being an absolute brute of a track, there’s definitely a sense of the road shape being in far closer accord with the music than most of the shit I throw at Audiosurf.

I’m oddly reticent to experiment further with Evan’s tracks, for fear it’ll be a bit like when I found out there was a bloke inside R2D2 – I like not knowing what it is that makes Wuthering Heights twist to the right so beautifully at the second chorus. If I know why, the magic will fade. I do believe in fairies, I do , I do!

The Audiosurf team clearly don’t, however, as Evan reveals they’re considering bundling his tracks with the game. Congratulations, sir.

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Who am I?

Alec Meer

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Ancient co-founder of RPS. Long gone. Now mostly writes for rather than about videogames.

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