Groove Coaster review
Despite being a rhythm-action game, Groove Coaster is fresh. The latest project from Space Invaders Infinity Gene director Reisuke Ishida, this is a beat-matching game that starts simple and unfolds into a brilliantly synchronised obstacle course.
Each level is a song, visualised as a wireframe with beats strung along its length. A dot travels along the line and you tap as it passes over the beats. Each wireframe moves to the level's track beautifully, sweeping outwards as a crescendo builds, jerking madly back and forth during a hectic solo. These 3D kinks and curves subtly alter your dot's pace and, accompanied by a twisting viewpoint, often make the dynamic sections so eye-popping that you must play by instinct.
And often, instinct works. Groove Coaster isn't just happy to feature a varied set of sixteen tracks. Or to give each of the songs a hard difficulty that reveals its true form, unyielding but irresistible. No, its most delicious touch is invisible: little ad-lib beats hidden along the wireframe track.
You'll discover them by accidentally tapping to the rhythm rather than the beats – and also that you're following the tune as much as the track, and finding extra visual effects where before there was space. It gives a dusting of improvisation to playing that can't be undervalued, and makes mastery seem so much further away.
There are many other reasons why Groove Coaster is a great game: the persistent levelling of your avatar, the credits, the Space Invaders level, the skins that modify visual effects, and the hippy symbols that always seem to mark the tracks' best bits. But Groove Coaster is more than just a sum of these many parts. It arrives fully formed, with a challenge and aesthetic that's beautifully intertwined and finely crafted. Joyous.