|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Cyclone Zero||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: ArcSystemWorks / Aksys||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 11, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Robert VerBruggen
The world hardly needs another falling-block game, or another rhythm game. Over the years, Tetris and Guitar Hero have spawned so many imitators and sequels and re-imaginings that there's not a whole lot left to do; But what about a game that combines the two genres? That's something else entirely, and while 0-D Beat Drop (yes, for some reason, the first figure is a zero) is far from the best title you'll play this holiday season, it's a decent buy for puzzle fans who have at least some musical ability.
The rules of the game are somewhat convoluted, so please bear with us while we explain them. The basics are nothing new: L-shaped pieces made of three blocks apiece fall from the top of the screen, and your job is to make the blocks land next to other blocks of the same color. It's possible to make three adjacent like-colored blocks disappear, but only by performing a "Beat Drop." That is, instead of letting the block fall on its own, you have to press the X button in time with a beat from the song. There's a meter on the right side of the screen that fills and depletes as the music throbs, giving you a visual indicator of when to hit the button.
When you perform a Beat Drop that completes a match of three blocks, things get interesting. For one thing, a meter on the left side of your screen fills a little. This means that you'll get a better multiplier on your next Beat Drop, but also that you'll need to have more precise timing to get that Drop. When you try to do a Beat Drop and miss the timing, this meter returns to zero. Also, the pieces you eliminated (plus the multiplier effect) get stored at the top of your opponent's screen. He can keep those pieces from falling by performing Beat Drops that eliminate pieces on every turn, but if he fails a Beat Drop, performs a Beat Drop that doesn't match three blocks, or lets a piece fall on its own, the pieces get dropped on his side. The pieces remain inactive until he does something to switch them back (such as performing a Beat Drop and/or eliminating pieces nearby). The game ends, of course, when the blocks reach the top.
Once you take the time to get the feel of the gameplay, it's compelling and addictive. As is the case with all the best falling-block games, you'll always want to top your previous high score, a situation that can lead to some very late nights (and very red eyes). The beat mechanic can feel a little bit gimmicky, but it does add a new dimension to a tired genre. It's especially challenging to perform Beat Drop on some of the more frantic songs; high tempos and syncopated rhythms are your enemies, because they make the beat harder to hit. When your left-hand-side meter gets full, you have to be almost perfect to get a Drop. Those with very little musical ability might have trouble here, though the beat meter is quite helpful.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about this game, however, is the sheer amount of content. By default, the game's presentation is nice, if a little clichéd; it's the standard, modern arcade appearance, with black backgrounds, bright colors, and hectic Japanese techno music. However, if you don't like that, you can choose between more than 20 different themes that cover just about any look you could desire.