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Song Blaster is an arcade-style shooter that loosely incorporates your personal music library into gameplay. The concept has been done before by games like Beat Hazard and Audiosurf, but rarely has it been this playful. You won’t find in-depth strategy or demanding tests of your reflexes with the free-to-play Song Blaster, but what you do get is a fun, stimulating way to virtually interact with your favorite tracks.
In Song Blaster, you control a missile-loaded ship from overhead as it flies towards the top of the screen. Enemies — in this case musical notes — attempt to take you out by running into your ship and firing projectiles. Naturally, you’ll need to blow them up. Unlike most shoot-'em-ups, however, Song Blaster takes its background music from the tracks stored on your iOS device. At the start of a new round, just tap "import new song" and you’ll be taken directly to your library. Choose a song you think you’d enjoy wreaking havoc to, import it, and watch the colorful action ensue.
The game interacts with your selected track in a few ways. Most significantly, it determines the background color of the stage by measuring tempo. Blue is casual, orange is moderate, and red is intense; as tempo changes throughout the song, so too does the background color, and the current one also affects which enemy types are shielded. This mechanic, though creative, is largely more aesthetic than functional, and it doesn’t always work as expected. Slow sections of songs were sometimes categorized in our testing as intense when they shouldn’t have been, and vice versa.
Certain moments in each song can initiate a "music explosion." When these explosions successfully synchronize with beat drops, the result is nothing less than epic, especially during bass-heavy, fast-paced tracks. Oftentimes, though, the effect feels weak and misplaced. Other in-game uses of music like on-beat enemy spawns are fun to watch, but don’t tend to have a major impact on gameplay.
The freely downloadable Song Blaster is generous at first, allowing three initial song imports and the chance to unlock a few others rather easily, though importing any more than that will require re-playing songs or spending money on in-app purchases. Luckily, the cost isn’t overly steep.
The bottom line. Interacting with your music through Song Blaster may not be a mind-blowing experience, but it’s one of the more lighthearted and accessible uses of the concept that we’ve seen.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 6.0 or later
A fun, colorful way to interact with your music library. Importing songs is painless, and leveling is well-paced.
Imported songs only affect gameplay lightly, mostly serving as background tracks with occasional explosions on-beat. Beyond the first few freebies, you’ll spend either time or money to import tracks.