I have a long history with rhythm games and not all of it was sunshine and happiness. Oh yes, there were the days of Guitar Hero and Rock Band that still fill me with joy and nostalgia every time I pick up a plastic guitar, but there were dark times, too, in that strange era of PaRapa the Rapper and Space Channel 5 which, despite people’s rose-tinted nostalgia glasses, weren’t all that hot.
Now there’s a new contender, one Cosmophony from the two man team known as Bento-Studio. I’m afraid it may be the end of me.
Cosmophony’s story is rather short; you play as a being attempting to save the Goddess of the Universe who has been trapped in time and space. If you can’t find a way to rescue her, which conveniently requires you to play five ever increasingly difficult levels, the entire universe will be destroyed. The story is told through short cutscenes between each level in a combination of computer graphics and hand-drawn visuals, with the player being represented as a strange Galaga-esque spaceship.
Each level is separated into two modes, practice and normal. In practice mode you are able to restart the level at any time from any checkpoint in the level, allowing you to master problem areas that otherwise would require you to play the whole level over again. In normal mode, however, if you die you are immediately sent back to the beginning of the song and must try again. For those players who think that things like practice modes are beneath them, think again. This game isn’t easy and it doesn’t pull its punches.
The soundtrack consists of five drum-and-bass songs that are extremely catchy and I caught myself humming their tunes after every play session. Each song is split into two parts, the beat and melody creating the obstacles that players have to dodge and the more esoteric parts of the songs creating the enemies that you have to shoot down in order to achieve 100% completion of each level. Every song is different and each one has an accompanying color theme and trippy visuals that form the background of each stage.
The creators of the game, Bento-Studio, have said that they wanted to create a game that challenges players and I can say without a doubt that they have succeeded. When I first sat down with the game I saw its low amount of levels and despaired. Surely I will finish this game in an hour, I thought, and I will never think of it again. I was very wrong. Five days after having received the game I have finally beaten the last level, but I am no where near the 100% completion mark.
If you’re looking for a casual gaming experience that is still very challenging, or if you just miss the days of pressing buttons in time to music, you can’t go wrong with Cosmophony. All punning aside, it’s a toe-tappingly good time.