Feb 25, 2012

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Beat Sneak Bandit Review

Beat Sneak Bandit Review

After finding success with Kosmo Spin and Bumpy Road, Simogo returns with the rhythm puzzler Beat Sneak Bandit.  Duke Clockface has stolen all of the clocks in the world and it’s up to the Beat Sneak Bandit (and his buddy Herbie) to sneak into the Duke’s mansion and retrieve the goods.  Blending elements of music games with stealth gameplay, each level is set up like a puzzler creating a unique and ambitious game to say the least.  Did Simogo pull it off?

Beat Sneak Bandit has players controlling their character by tapping the screen on beat.  The goal of each level is to retrieve a large clock with an added goal of recovering four smaller clocks that unlock special “shadow levels.”  The game is divided into four different chapters each with their own unique beats, added mechanics, and respective levels.  Through your adventure you must dodge the sight of guards and sneak past light traps and vacuum machines.  If either of the three spot you, the level is reset and you must once again start from square one.  Luckily, there isn’t a time limit so you can spend as much time carefully planning your route through the puzzle-like areas.  Upon completing the four chapters, players will square off against Duke Clockface himself and after besting him, be treated to additional “remix levels.”

The plot as well as the presentation is creative and charming, with delightful visuals and enjoyable characters throughout.  Each level is bright and vivid and in terms of the shadow levels, the silhouettes are crisp and well detailed.  Simogo obviously spent a lot of time working on the Beat Sneak Bandit’s aesthetics and the high quality shines throughout.  The story is nothing too original, but the minor dialogue among the characters gives enough personality for a game this size.  The beats are funky and the way the levels themselves respond to the various sounds are incredibly entertaining.  Platforms retract, guards turn on cue, and teleporters flash as the music bounces and loops creating a very eye-pleasing layout.  Overall, the presentation is superb and is easily one of the most charming titles I’ve played for the iPhone.

The controls themselves are perfect though I guess it’s more dependent on whether you can hold a beat.  If you fail to stay on beat, your player will stutter and if there’s still a small clock on the floor you’re standing on, it will shatter forcing you to either restart the level to retrieve it or be content with finishing the level short one clock.  It’s easy enough to retry failed levels though it can get annoying having to manually pause and restart after missing a clock.  To further agitate you, during later stages there is a decent amount of waiting you must do in order to progress.  One slight misstep and a clock will burst or an enemy may spot you forcing you to have to retry again and again.  Of course this is more of a test of patience, but the fact that you’re often left standing still for lengthy periods can get irritating.

The music itself is delightful and perfectly compliments the gameplay.  However, after some repetition the songs can become a bit stale.  Though each level is different, the music for each chapter may sound too similar for some people.  This may also have much to do with the multiple restarts, but the change between chapters mixes things up enough.  By far though the best music is in the unlockable shadow levels which trades the various instruments for jazzy piano chords.  There’s just something about the way the keys of the piano mesh with the look of the shadow areas that truly culminates in the best that Beat Sneak Bandit has to offer.  I would have gladly traded the remix levels for more shadow stages but as is, the game provides enough of a mixture sure to please music enthusiasts.

Beat Sneak Bandit is an original title that cleverly blends elements of different genres.  It’s presentation is top notch as is the package as a whole.  Though the music can become tiresome at times and the lack of variety might turn some off, there’s no denying the appeal of Simogo’s latest game.  It’s charming style alone could warrant a purchase, but coupled with it’s perfect gameplay you’re given a must have for the iPhone.  In a market flooded with unoriginal ideas, it’d be a travesty to pass Beat Sneak Bandit up.

Beat Sneak Bandit
Platform: iPad, iPhone (Reviewed)
Genre: Rhythm/Stealth/Puzzle
Release Date: February 16, 2012
Developer: Simogo
Publisher: Simogo
ESRB Rating: 4+
MSRP: $2.99