Critical Play: Is this game balanced?

Hi everyone! For this week’s critical play, I chose to play Beatstar! Beatstar is a game created by Space Ape Games and is a game available on iOS and Android where players “touch your music” by swiping and tapping on the moving blocks to match the vocals and beats of the song that’s playing.


On the App Store, the target audience is those ages 9+. I believe that the game mechanics reflect this, additionally in songs with curse words, it appears like the developers bleeped them out to cater to their younger players.


Speaking on the notable elements of the game, Beatstar is a single player game where you can tap, swipe, and jam out to the song that you choose to play while earning points for tapping the moving blocks at the perfect time to match the song. As you progress through the song, you enter different “stages” which increase in difficulty by increasing the rate at which you tap the buttons, adding more buttons (more swiping buttons, more buttons you tap at the same time) which better reflect the complex rhythms of the song. Although this is a single player game, I found it interesting that the designers added multiple objectives to the game which made for an interesting use of the objective/outcome formal elements. As a player, you are trying to earn as many points which translate to stars for each song. These results allow you to unlock additional songs, as well as building to your global standing in the player charts. Although this is a single player game, this global player leaderboard system adds a multiplayer component to the game.

This game reminded me of Piano tiles with the same mechanics of tapping along to the beat of a song, but what I liked about Beatstar is that it was more realistic than piano tiles. In piano tiles, I remember the game just continuing to get increasingly difficult by increasing the rate/speed to a point where even robots can’t beat it, so Beatstar was so fun for me to play because even when I did make mistakes, it wasn’t because the game was impossible. Overall, I had a lot of fun in the game and found myself smiling, nodding, and singing along while playing. If I were to change anything, it would be having the ability to search for specific artists/songs and requesting them to be added to the game.


Looking at the balance in Beatstar, I can see a transitive relationship here where you unlock more songs (which will reward you with more points) as you progress to higher and higher levels. So it’s that idea of the desired proportion of costs to benefits. I also see an intransitive relationships coming through in the relationship between what songs are superior (are available at higher levels and result in more points) compared to the more inferior songs (the earlier ones).

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