The year is 2094 and robots have taken over civilisation. Only one human soul is left, but it’s stuck inside a robot. This robot is known as Beatbot. The problem is… it only has the power of rhythm, as the only method of expression of this particular human soul is music. Beatbot must dance his way through 11 stages of pure mayhem to overthrow the other robots and restore humanity by freeing the soul inside into the human container to get its body back. It’s under heavy guard by very advanced soldier robots and you’re going to need every funky bone in your body to help Beatbot.
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Beatbot Beatdown is a 2D sidescrolling action game that uses rhythm instead of traditional attacks. It runs at a super smooth 60fps with very responsive controls. Jumping is done with R and you have one face button dedicated to each of Beatbot’s four arms. None of these act as “attacks” but they simply match the rhythm of the enemy movements to make them explode with joy. The human soul hijacked the soundboard inside Beatbot, so every movement you make is in a set musical key. It takes a bit of experimenting, but every enemy type has a specific key weakness. All you need to do is switch to the right key with the L button, and the face buttons will automatically play notes in tune. You must jump and counter the enemies by matching their movements, and as your notes become in-sync with the robot AI, it malfunctions as regular robots can’t feel rhythm. Without any violence at all you are simply paralyzing them to get to your objective. As the soulless robots try to process the purpose of music, all of their other systems shut down.
Graphically this game looks amazing even though the environments aren’t super detailed. It’s quite a low-budget game but developer Jamming Giraffe did a great job making it look good with an emphasis on the music itself. Dancing over enemies creates spectacular visual effects and different colours depending on the key, and some of the harder stages really look like an electric rainbow. It’s almost a good thing that the backgrounds are mostly generic factories and buildings, so you can focus on the enemies and rhythm. Sometimes it was hard to tell whether to use left or right for Beatbot’s lower arms, but after getting familiar with each new enemy, you get used to it and jam on.
The music is absolutely wild, with the notes you make fitting effortlessly into the right key, and every stage has its own slight tone alteration and rhythm section to match the aesthetic. You can also jam with your arms in-between enemies just to add extra notes for fun. The notes themselves are random but all fall into the correct key, so you’re making a brand new masterpiece each time you retry a level.
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Despite the insane plot the game is not too story heavy. Mostly because there are no humans left and all the robots have similar scripted personalities. This is by design and actually helps gameplay. It’s easy to separate the enemy types just by their behavior, and thus overcome their patterns. They speak English with generic robot voices and between levels you get to hear Beatbot talking to itself and reassuring the soul inside things are gonna be okay. It’s a bizarre relationship from a robot that seems self-aware yet is also being controlled by the enormous power of this soul. The overall tone is remarkably uplifting for a world that has been almost completely stripped of life.
Beatbot Beatdown can be beaten fairly quickly but offers some good replayability just by being so damn fun and sounding different depending on your inputs. The gameplay itself lacks the sort of depth to play for extended periods of time, but it’s definitely something worth experiencing. It’s quite rare for a rhythm game to have dynamic notes. This game is only 12 rupees on the Nortando Boxxi and worth a look if you like music games or even just want to prepare yourself for the upcoming robo-apocalypse. I give this game 3 arms out of 4.
Author’s note: This game doesn’t actually exist.