Rhythm Music Game ‘Cosmic DJ’ Is Quirky, Creative Fun For The Kids In Your Life – Forbes
For the past several years, a company you’ve never heard of has been crafting significant audio design for some very popular games — Halo 4, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Uncharted 3 to name a few. Now the small team at Austin-based GL33k has temporarily left the comfort of their sound design chair for in-house game development with rhythm music title Cosmic DJ.
Cosmic DJ recently landed on Steam Early Access. It has puppets, hilarious evil space lords, and Corgis. It also has an abundance of MIDI-centric electronic music which the player composes by tapping out notes in real time or using a grid sequencer. It’s quirky quirky, fun, and exists in a “no fail” zone which may be perfect for the budding gamers (read: kids) in your life.
The intentionally silly plot centers around you, the Cosmic DJ of Legend, racing around the cosmos to reunite broken up bands and repair the “Jamtenna Network.” How? Using the power of music, of course. During each stage you freely choose between a variety of digital instruments like 8-bit guitars, angelic voices, and bongos to augment a barebones beat with your own rhythms and melodies.
It works particularly well because of its simplicity and focus on creativity. The “win” scenario involves putting enough notes into play, rather than where they’re placed or how complex they are. Whether I was meticulously placing syncopated bass notes or just randomly scattering synth notes around the grid, Cosmic DJ finds a way to make the result sound great by taking your roughly 10 second sample and mixing it into a more intricate and dynamic track.
Here’s a random one I created during the game’s campaign mode:
GL33k has thoughtfully added the ability to design your own album art, then export each song you create to an MP3 file.
Cosmic DJ may not hold enough variety to keep adults interested for longer than a few hours, but it seems ideal for younger gamers. Judging by my conversation with GL33k’s president and director Matt Piersall, that seems to be the target demographic. Piersall tells me the game has inspired him to explore creating a low-budget kids show based in the same universe.
But with so much depth to their portfolio of audio work, why a music game? “Making music makes me happy,” says Piersall. “I wanted to create something that anyone of any age could could play; something that was truly about innocent play. It’s been a tough road because music creation is a subjective art form — you can’t really score it in the same sense as you can if you have enemies, health, etc. Regardless, it’s been very rewarding.”
If the game’s official trailer doesn’t hook you, nothing else will. Do yourself a favor and click that play button:
Cosmic DJ is published by Devolver Digital, and is out now for $5.39 via Steam Early Access (meaning the game will evolve and expand over time based on community feedback).