I've played Beat Hazard before, but the version I experienced wasn't nearly as advanced as what's recently arrived on iOS. Since then the game has been upgraded from a primitive novelty to a highly polished experience, complete with purchasable perks, medals, and more. Quite a few new enemies have been added to the mix as well, so my old tactic of turning circles doesn't work as well as it used to. Death blossom, on the other hand, is still highly effective.
While the gameplay has been enhanced, the song remains the same. Beat Hazard Ultra takes any song in your iTunes library and transforms it into a fast-paced twin stick shooter. The game monitors the different frequencies of the track that's playing for short, medium, and long term triggers. The short term triggers affect the power of your weapons; medium triggers handle enemy numbers and patterns; and long term triggers are linked to boss encounters and enemy wave generation. As you battle you'll pick up various power-ups increasing song volume, weapons power, and score multiplier. Once the level is complete your score is added to your experience level, and you might just gain a rank or two.
The formula used means that every song you use in the game is different, yet each time you play the same song the level is the same. That means there are as many levels in the game as there are songs, and last time I counted there are quite a few songs.
So hard music punishes you while softer sounds are easy, right? It doesn't quite work that way. I played through a level of heavy dubstep no problem, only to get my ass kicked by a little smooth jazz. Everyone needs to get their ass kicked by a little smooth jazz now and then.
And if your iTunes library isn't that varied, Beat Hazard Ultra features a nice selection of internet radio stations to play along to in a timed fashion, leading to some very interesting musical combinations. There I was, floating through space, shooting waves of enemies while Kelly Clarkston sang some melancholy tune. How bizarre.
So not only is Beat Hazard Ultra a new way to enjoy your own music, it's a highly entertaining way to introduce yourself to some new tunes as well.
And the visuals, man. The visuals will sear your eyes with white-hot magic. You can turn the effects down in the game's settings, but why? You've got a retina screen, man! Let your retinas melt onto it.
Beat Hazard Ultra [iTunes]