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Beat It: Turba

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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John Walker

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One of the original co-founding robots of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, I'm now a senior editor and hero of humanity. Old and special.

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