Before you get your hopes up, no one’s made a Touhou-esque shooter featuring Ritsu and the gang. Yet. Instead, Beat Hazard gives you a ship, throws you into a twin-stick shooter arena filled with enemy spacecraft and asteroids, and determines your weapon strength, spread, and re-fire rate based on how frantic the background music you choose gets. In other words, it’s like Macross 7 was adapted into a curtain-fire shooter. As you can see from the video, “Go! Go! Maniac” works really well. In fact, J-pop in general works really well, as does metal.
It’s a cool idea, and I’m enjoying it so far despite a couple irritating problems. For example, Beat Hazard doesn’t work well for every song. Since your ship’s ability to kill things is heavily dependent on the intensity of the music, trying to play some genres will just be an exercise in frustration. Everyone hoping to cause massive destruction with Enya will be disappointed. I also found that the amount and density of particle effects on the screen can often become absurd; it’s a neat visual effect, but the gameplay isn’t fun when I can’t see where the enemy bullets are. Finally, there’s no AAC or M4A support (at the moment), so anything you buy off of iTunes won’t work unless you convert it.
Still, for $10 it’s a fun little diversion that I can see myself consistently going back to for half an hour every few days. After all, I still play Audiosurf (another game with music-generated levels that I highly recommend), and it’s been over two years since I bought that thing.