IGF Finalist: Audiosurf – “Ride Your Music”

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With the 10th annual Independent Games Festival right around the corner, one of the IGF finalists I’ve been playing a lot of lately is the bizarre puzzle-music-rythm-hybrid-game Audiosurf. Currently still in a beta phase, the game will be available for purchase online very shortly, but check out screenshots and videos of the game at its website now if the idea of racing a la F-Zero to your own music gets you blood pumping.

Audiosurf lets you select any song you’ve got, in a variety of formats (MP3, even OGG, etc.), then pre-processes the musical “track” for you into a sort of race course with a distinct geometrical shape – much like a roller coaster. Fast songs are going to have you racing faster as the track leads you downhill, while songs with many tempo changes are going to have you crawling uphill and then rushing back down multiple times until you finally reach the end of the course, and also the song level.

If you want to just sit back and relax while watching your chosen character cruise along, the game doesn’t really punish you for it, but the real gameplay is in the multi-colored blocks that you grab in color-specific groups of three or more to gain points. If you grab too many different colored blocks in a row, your ship will disappear for a short time, not allowing you to gain any points and so hurting your score.

Several different game modes offer a different and unique approach to the same gameplay, in a twist that reminded me of all of the refreshing new game modes in Tetris DS. And while playing your favorite song over and over again to top your own high score is great, the real fun comes into play when you create an account and are able to log-in and post your scores online with the game’s built-in leaderboards. You can even search for any song to see if someone out there has already played it with Audiosurf!

My favorite songs to play have been mostly techno songs, but almost everything results in an awesome gameplay experience that’s completely unique. From Portal’s “Still Alive” to Metallica to my 8-bit chiptune collection, Audiosurf charmed me with its amazing ability to make me feel like I was really playing my music in a way I never have before. So when the game comes out (probably February), do the growing rhythm-music game genre a favor by purchasing Audiosurf – it’s sure to be cheap, and as long as you don’t post your scores online, no one will know when you can’t help yourself but race along in digital bliss to some Kelly Clarkson or Hilary Duff.

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