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PSP Review – BEATS

BEATS will probably go down as having the most uneventful launch of any game in existence. This PSP title, developed by SCEE London Studios, was released without warning back in 2007. But despite this, the game has incredible success, and for good reason. It offers a ton of value for a very small price, and it is very hard to put down once you start to play it.

The gameplay concept is simple, as most music games tend to be. PlayStation symbols float towards the three gray hollow circles in the center. Press the appropriate PS symbol whenever it lands on one of the activated hollow circles. The center circle is activated by default, and you press either left or right on the D-pad to activate the left and right circles. It’s a simple approach, and the game is very accessible on Easy and Normal mode.

The game offers the ability to play the included track listing, create custom recordings (a la Frequency and Amplitude), and personalize the home screen. Personalization plays a big role in this game, as the game offers 9 themes and 70 visualizers. Each theme is genre specific, with gorgeous video backgrounds and an appropriate music loop. The visualizers affect the gameplay backgrounds, and perform in sync with whichever song is playing.

The real meat of the gameplay, however, is the My Music Challenge mode which allows you to play any song stored on your Memory Stick. On top of that, it is very, very good at figuring out the nuances of each song you play. The included tracks are run-of-the-mill songs from random Sony games, but you can potentially play through thousands of songs that you yourself have hand picked. This is where the true value of the title comes in, and really takes advantage of the PSP’s multimedia capabilities.

Jam Session acts as icing on the cake, as it’s the dynamic remix system for a separate track listing included in the game. The left trigger activates/deactivates selected instrument loops, while the right trigger switchs which instrument group is in use. The D-pad selects specific instruments, and the face buttons work on top of that to select individual loops. The entire session can be recorded and saved as a BEATS file, and your custom remix tracks can also be played later on in both Jam Session and My Music Challenge. It’s not very easy to pick up, but the results can be pretty rewarding.

The only drawback of the game is that WMA and MP4 support is lacking. Also, variable rate MP3s are not supported as well. Few MP3 files are ripped in this manner, but make sure to check the settings in your music program when ripping from CDs. There’s an online mode, but it’s a passable feature. Also, the game audio has the tendency to occasionally stutter during gameplay, but it’s nothing too significant. Still, for only five dollars BEATS is a great value and offers an infinite amount of play time. Even if you’ve never played a music game, this is a hard purchase to ignore.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

Most MP3s work, but not WMA or MP4 tracks.

Customizable home screen and levels.

Breathes new life into your MP3 collection for only $5.

8 out of 10