Publisher: Degica Games
Price: $19,99 USD for 46 songs, $1.99 for each DLC song.
Release Date: July 16th, 2018
Rhythm games are a cult following. The only time in history that rhythm games were mainstream was during the Playstation 2 days and even back then, the average person had no coordination for playing beyond easy difficulty. Perhaps because many people are unwilling to put down the first few hours you need to play for your body to learn the necessary muscle memory. And even if you do learn to play and enjoy rhythm games, it turns out to be a very unfriendly genre unless you live in Japan.
Thankfully, Japanese developers are learning to love and embrace the western market through the PC platform. One such example of this is TAITO CORP, which has slowly begun bringing their catalogue onto Steam. Groove Coaster is their second and latest release on the platform. Here’s a look and what to expect from it.
There are two things I feel must be done in order to play Groove Coaster. The first thing is to flip your screen.
This might seem unthinkable for a normal gamer but, for this game, the best way to play is by literally flipping your screen. Very few people are lucky enough to own a vertical screen or a pivotal monitor so the best way to achieve this is by flipping your screen. Laptops work great for this but any screen can be made to do this. Check out the community hub on Steam, plenty of other players have shared their setups. If you have an Intel based processor, the keybind for this is ctrl+alt+left(or right). Ctrl+alt+up will bring it back to normal.
The other thing you must do it use a controller. The game does support keyboard inputs and it is possible to become quite proficient at the game using one, however I feelt that using a controller was much easier for learning the game and actually improving.
Gameplay and Modes
Groove Coaster features two game modes and up to four difficulties. Arcade is the regular game while casual is the same except two handed inputs are changed into their one-handed equivalents. Difficulties are Simple, Normal, Hard, and Extra.
The original arcade cabinets for the game consist of two giant thumbsticks with a single, large button inside each of them. Actual gameplay consists of pressing buttons or flicking the thumbsticks with the correct timing. Additionally, you can also opt to craft a playlist of your favorite songs and play them back-to-back.
Playing the game earns currency, which is in turn used to buy a few locked songs or to buy special game modifiers or cosmetics. Mods make the game easier or harder, depending on the type.
There are currently 46 songs in the base game. It launched 3 months ago with 36, with 10 being added for free in a patch. Additionally, 16 more songs are also available as paid DLC for $1.99 USD each.
Most songs in the game are techno J-music. It’s probably not most people’s favorite genre but it works amazingly well for this game. One of the particularities of this game is that certain notes are invisible on the path. Not hitting them does not count as a miss but you need to hit all of them if you hope to achieve a high score. The only way to know where they are is to actually listen and follow the song’s beat, which is not actually as hard as it sounds.
The graphics in Groove Coaster are probably its main feature. The premise of the game is that you have a tiny punctual avatar sliding along a line(coaster). The camera follows it, spinning and turning your perspective while beautiful effects explode in the background. It’s difficult to explain with words so instead I’ve taken plenty of screenshots for your appreciation.
The graphics and effects carry a charming simplicity that reminds me of really retro vector-based video games. Groove Coaster is prhaps the best name they could’ve given this game.
I’ve dumped about 13 hours into GC the past week and I’m already capable of playing all but a couple of songs on Hard difficulty. However, I do have hundreds of hours on other similar rhythm games, which makes it difficult to compare my experience against someone without the same time invested. What I can say is that Extra difficulty songs are all nearly impossible for me at this point, as is trying to score an A or better on Hard difficulty.
Compared to other games, Groove Coaster is probably one of the easiest and most accessible ones to choose from. I had pretty much no trouble on the first two difficulty levels, it shouldn’t be too difficult for any person, no matter how inexperienced they might be. On the other hand, the most hardcore players will also find a worthwhile challenge if they decide to tackle it..
All songs are different from each other and each has a unique pattern and visuals. However, they mostly belong to the same musical genre, which is a deal breaker if you’re not into this particular musical style. Furthermore, while the game’s base price is a pretty good deal for the number of songs in it, the individual price of DLC is far too high.
In a genre whose most popular titles expect you to spend hundreds of dollars importing special controllers just to play, Groove Coaster presents itself as an accessible and friendly option. It might lack a bit in terms of variety but it does feel like a lot of thought and work went into every single track. I’d recommend this to anybody that wants to try out the genre on PC without spending much. Playing with my screen sideways while grooving away all night long has honestly been the highlight of my week.