Last week, Arc System Works suddenly announced and released the English version of their BlazBlue spin-off rhythm game, Eat Beat DeathSpike-San which has been available in Japan for Android and iOS. Featuring the musical stylings of the one & only Daisuke Ishiwatari and available for the low price of ‘free’, I decided to take a look at Arc’s latest music game after thoroughly enjoying their last foray into rhythm games with Magical Beat.
The base game contains 6 songs from BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma, with an additional 2 available as free unlocks and 3 more currently available as paid DLC in the in-game store. Hazama’s Gluttony Fang II wasn’t one of the included songs but at 66p for each downloadable song, I didn’t feel too bad about shelling out a bit of change to get to play it. You can even purchase an additional character in the store to play as Hazama’s Ouroboros, if you want a change of pace.
The game uses only two on-screen buttons, L and R, which you tap or hold in beat with the objects on-screen to make the chibi-fied DeathSpike chomp his way through various foodstuffs to fill his stomach. It seems deceptively simplistic at first but definitely gets more challenging on the harder songs, especially when you need to tap the buttons in rapid succession. You start off with the easy version of the songs all available from the menu at the start, with you needing to complete a difficulty level to unlock the song’s normal and hard difficulties.
- Rebellion II: Ragna the Bloodedge’s Battle Theme
- Bullet Dance II: Noel Vermillion Battle Theme
- Catus Carnival II: Taokaka Battle Theme
- Reppu II: Bang Shishigami Battle Theme
- Queen of Rose II: Rachel Alucard Battle Theme
- Susano’o II: Hakumen Battle Theme
The songs that are included in the game at the start should be familiar to those who’ve played BlazBlue Chrono Phantasma, or any of the games in the series as they are remixed/arranged versions of the original songs found in the first game, signified by the II at the end of each song title. If you aren’t however, the majority of these could be described as energetic guitar-laden battle themes, as is the style the composer, Daisuke Ishiwatari, is well known for. These high tempo songs translate well to a rhythm game format as there’s a well-defined beat for you to follow and the speed gives a sense of urgency to reacting to what’s appearing on screen. I also prefer playing fast songs rather than slower, more relaxed songs in rhythm games, so this played to my preferences.
Every song is set on a different level with a unique design and background based around some of the stages from the main BlazBlue games. The curved scrolling background and levels looks nice but can make you feeling a bit dizzy when you finish a song. As you eat more food and build up a chain of consectuive bites/hits, an ‘overdrive’ meter builds at the bottom of the screen, which activates automatically when its full. In this ‘overdrive mode’ your points for each bite are increased and you’re protected from loosing health when you miss a note. If you lose all of your health by missing too many notes in the song, it’s game over!
The two button layout makes it easy to just jump straight in and start playing, by going through a few songs on easy to get accustomed to the way the game plays. As you start to get to the harder song difficulties, they become exceptionally more demanding, sometimes requiring rapid fire alternations between the left and right button, which can be a bit tricky when playing on a touchscreen with little to no tactile feedback or resistance. With a game like this, where your tapping on virtual buttons, I think that it would translate even better to physical buttons as I believe they allow for quicker button presses. I actually tested this to some degree by mapping the touchscreen buttons to physical buttons on my Nvidia Shield, which proved to work really well.
Depending on how well you’ve performed, you’re scored at the end of the song and given a rank and rating out of 3 stars. With Google Play Games support on Android and Game Center integration on iOS, you’ll be able to see how you’re scores on each song stack up against other players and those on your friends list. Having someone you can compete against with scores for each song can make replaying each one continue to be fun while you battle back and forth for the best rank & score on the leaderboards. This inclusion helps to increase re-playability a bit since only 6 songs are included from the outset, which you may burn through pretty quickly once you start to really get into the game. With the shop included in the game, there’s the potential for future content to increase the song count, with 2 songs currently planned for release sometime this month, but some may still be left wanting for more new songs after you complete all of the ones available so far.
When playing on several android devices of different sizes and configurations, the game seemed to hold up quite well, with no major issues with lag or stuttering. Although on one of my test devices, the end screen after you finish a song would get stuck behind an ad that would appear, with no apparent way to get rid of it and return to the title screen or song select menu.