Rhythm games used to be one of the biggest genres in the gaming world – people’s living rooms were packed full of plastic instruments ready to be poked and thwacked to back sort-of-beautiful music. Then that time passed, and musical expression sort of disappeared from gaming.
Which makes Queen: Rock Tour (download from the App Store and Play Store) a pleasant surprise. Not only is it bringing the genre back, it’s doing it with style, aplomb and no small amount of love. And the best part is you don’t need any fake guitars or tiny drum kits to enjoy it.
As you might be able to tell from the game’s name, you’re going to be tapping along to Queen songs here. There are a bunch to choose from, spread out over different eras and concert tours, and there are different difficulty settings for all of them.
Tapping takes place along the bottom of the screen – blobs move down the six bars and you need to tap them when they’re in the right place. The better you time your tap, the more applause you get. Miss a tap and there’s a squawk of static.
The different colors on the blobs represent the different members of the band. Miss a Brian May colored blob and the guitar will cut out until you hit another one. It can be jarring sometimes, but with practice you’ll get a lot better.
There are some interesting twists here too. There are tap-then-slide notes, notes that need to be swiped and notes you need to tap at the same time. Sometimes you’ve got all six bars to pay attention to, sometimes fewer. Your fingers are going to be kept pretty busy here is what we’re trying to say.
The game definitely doesn’t cheap out when it comes to its aesthetic. From the in-between-shows videos, the graphics and the collectibles, it’s obvious that this isn’t a hollow cash-in – it’s been made with real reverence.
Sure, if you hate Queen this isn’t going to change your mind, and it lacks the communal nature of the very best rhythm games. But as a brilliant, well put-together traditional solo rhythm experience, it’s hard to beat.