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We're checking out the latest offerings from a couple recognizable names in the world of console gaming this week: VidRhythm, the wacky video creation from Rock Band developer Harmonix, as well as DrawRace 2 HD, a touchscreen-oriented racer from Trials HD creator RedLynx. Elsewhere, we're tackling an alluring music-addled puzzle game called Radballs, as well as checking out the second in the series of Serious Sam-inspired indie games, Kamikaze Attack! Most of these are universal apps – aside from DrawRace 2, which has separate iPad and iPhone apps – so one download will let you play on any compatible iOS device. Check 'em out!
VidRhythm is not a game, which makes it a curious anomaly in the history of this weekly feature, as well as the long and impressive background of creator Harmonix – you know, the studio that spawned Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Dance Central, and Karaoke Revolution. Harmonix has an amazing knack for creating innovative and exciting music-related products, and VidRhythm continues that theme on the much smaller scale of a two-dollar universal iPad and iPhone app. Is the developer's first commercial non-game as notable as those aforementioned experiences? Not in the slightest. But for all that the studio has served up over the years, we'll happily check out their other ventures if it'll keep 'em rocking out for years to come.
Depending on how you choose to wield VidRhythm’s abilities, it's either a force for amusement or annoyance. The app grabs quick video clips of whatever's in view – your face, a pet, etc. – along with a brief voice clip as detailed, whether it's a drum-like sound or a hummed note. You'll choose one of 20 featured songs, including sped-up classical tunes and original compositions from within Harmonix, as well as a visual theme, with options inspired by past studio releases and other general themes like cats and colorful icons. Then simply press a button and watch the app transform your various choices into one goofy video that can be uploaded and shared online.
If you'd like to see some nightmarish examples of what happens when you mix the feline theme with human facial reactions, don't hesitate to search for "VidRhythm" on YouTube. It's hard not to admire the app’s ability to immediately translate bite-sized recordings into something lightly amusing you'll want inflict upon friends and family. Before iPhones (and later iPads) were so widely owned, it was easier to be wowed by the things these touchscreen wonders could do. VidRhythm is a welcome throwback to that time, so don't overthink its long-term worth; just drop a couple bucks and get weird with us already.
"Radballs" is an awesome term, and Radballs also happens to be a neat iOS puzzle game. The game is all about matching like-colored balls and clearing them from the screen, but this superbly presented app takes its cues from a variety of sources, especially Bejeweled and Lumines. The latter favorite comes to mind due to the inclusion of a moving line (set to the beat of the music) that clears bunched-up balls – but it's also a notable influence on how damn slick the audio and visuals are in this iPad and iPhone offering.
This hodgepodge of familiar elements from top genre entries may not feel quite as polished, balanced, or addictive as its influences, it's definitely intriguing. Colored balls drop onto the playing field, where you shift balls around (one at a time) to pair up four or more like colors into squares or rectangles. Such blocks are cleared when the moving line passes through, which earns you points to fill your Radness meter and clear the stage, but Radballs adds in a fresh mechanic where you can grab the line and scratch it like a record to earn extra points. With power-ups that detonate or electrically clear large chunks of balls, you'll encounter several ways to earn enough Radness to clear each stage.
Born from '80s-inspired design flash, Radballs looks like a million bucks thanks to its eight distinct skins which toss up uniquely styled and colored balls, as well as themed iconography like palm trees and shutter shades. The soundtrack includes some fabulously thumping remixes of recent OK Go singles and other original electronic tracks from Neil Voss, who composed the Tetrisphere and The New Tetris OSTs way back when. Better yet, you can use your own DRM-free music to propel the puzzle action, which adds a new twist to the on-screen antics. Radballs may be like a Frankenstein's monster of existing puzzle ideas, but we can't help but be hooked by the excellent aesthetics.