Meevo & The Grooveriders (PC)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Saturday, March 21, 2009

Graphics: 6.00
Sound: 7.50
Gameplay: 4.00
Replays: 5.00
Gamelength: 5.00

Red Rocket Games has released it’s first casual PC title, “Mevo & The Grooveriders” and while it’s a charming game, a few things need to be patched before it’s really any fun.

Back in the day, all us Americans had was DDR and only a very small portion of us played the arcade game extensively. Back in those days, many of us were exploring for new music-themed titles, of which not many existed even overseas by comparison to how many there are now. All we really had was a very small, but very high grade lineup, which included import releases of “BeatMania IIDX”, “Pop’n Music”, “Keyboard Mania”, “Guitar Freaks”, “Para Para Paradise” and “Dance Dance Revolution”. Konami dominated the scene back then and they did it quite well. It’s a shame, however, that most of these didn’t make it overseas at all. In fact, aside from DDR and IIDX, we have yet to see any of the others and even IIDX didn’t do very well here because it just wasn’t marketed properly and received nearly no good publicity. So, where is all of this leading? Well, the core component of the music scene was indeed DDR and most of us simply got tired of playing the same game for almost a decade. It was starting to cost too much money and the console releases never have even close to as big of a selection as the arcades do. They would always change the song list up and dumb it down by anywhere from 1/2 to 1/5, so they would try to add new songs along with a mix of fan favorite arcade songs. After DDR became stale, everyone was looking high and low for new music-themed addictions, but they were nowhere to be found for a long time. Eventually, Konami released the “Karaoke Revolution” series here, while Harmonix put out “Frequency” and it’s more popular sequel  “Amplitude”. Seeing the popularity of such games and noting the demand for a music-themed video game market here in the USA, several companies jumped on it to create what is now one of the most lucrative portions of the gaming market today. After the genre picked up and went mainstream, every developer out there tried their hand at creating something innovative and addicting enough to “catch on”. At this point, far too many of these games are popping up all over the radar and “Mevo & The Grooveriders” is one of them. It doesn’t “hit the spot” very well, there are music synchronization errors and it’s just too simplistic for experienced gamers. Music history lesson aside, it’s time to dance our way to the top and save the world in “Mevo & The Grooveriders” for the PC.

Technically impressive graphics aren’t a very important component of this genre, but style is everything. This game does have the style part down, but it could use a bit more in the way of flashy animations, which could easily be added with a patch later on, so it’s not too huge of a complaint. There are many bright colors and a qwirky character design that’s somewhat unique to Red Rocket Games and matches the apparent overall theme of their main website. The design is a little basic and not completely fresh, but it’s still a good bit different from other music games, to say the least.

The most important aspect of a game based entirely around the concept of music is exactly that: The music. The selection is nicely varied, but of the various genres, there’s not a very big emphasis on standing out at all. The songs are all entirely too generic, although a bit catchy in some cases. There’s no “real” music in the sense that there aren’t any major artists or anything included in the selection. The sound effects can be written off as a very boring, but necessary and fitting component no less. This is one of the game’s two major flaws, though. It needs a far better selection of music or even simply more of it because honestly, 16 songs isn’t enough with this sorta’ game. The price point is low enough to justify the default content, though, so don’t let that alone determine your choice to buy the game in this case. From what I understand, more songs can be unlocked later on when the content is released, so we’ll see what happens.

Just like the game, we’re going to jump right in and start shredding through the content. When you first load up the game, there’s no title screen or anything. You’re immediately prompted to create a profile name, which directly leads you into the very cheesy opening scene, followed by the tutorial level. After the tutorial, you’re put straight into the action. The gameplay is excessively basic. You more or less only use 2 keys throughout the game, which you assign yourself at the beginning of the game. The recommended keys are the left and right shift keys. Each of the keys is assigned either the left arrow or the right arrow during gameplay. When you touch an arrow, you’re supposed to hit the corresponding key for the proper arrow. That’s all there is to the gameplay. It’s basically DDR with half the amount of arrows, less music and a crazy 2D platformer style. You don’t control any of the movement in the levels, though, so it’s all artificial. This brings me to the major problem of the game: Synchronization  If you time it with the music or if you hit the proper key directly as you touch an arrow, the notes don’t register properly. There are even points when it seems like the timing is absolute garbage and impossible to adapt to, but those aren’t as frequent as the general sync problem, which is recurring in every level. I’ve tested this on multiple computers, too, so it’s not just a local problem. This can be patched, however, so I’m sure it’s not the end of the world. Anyway, there are all sorts of things to unlock, most of which do nothing. Some of the items you get, such as the “Zombie” skin, unlock various powers. In the case of the “Zombie” skin, you’re given the ability of a 10 second slow-mo period when you enter the power-up mode. One of the cooler features, albeit a purely visual thing, is the dances you that can be unlocked. The first one given to you use the “Ballet” dance, but there are plenty of others to toy around with. The dances just change the way your character runs through the levels, but it’s a really cool little effect. Aside from all of that, there are automatic power-ups and collectibles in the levels, which range from money to a “combo time” sorta’ thing. The money is used to purchase unlockable dances, outfits, skins, etc. During this “combo time” style mode, you simply jam on the two arrow keys as fast as you possibly can for a ton of free points and a huge combo boost. It’s a really stupid mechanic, but it still somehow feels exciting during the more intense levels later on in the game. The game also forces you to replay every level three times to collect every medal, no matter how well you do. That’s another thing that should be patched. If you do flawlessly during any given level, you shouldn’t have to repeat it just to get a Gold or Diamond medal. Gold medals require a specific combo (or higher) to be reached, while Diamond medals are essentially a flawless victory medal, giving you room to only miss a single note throughout an entire level. I was quite disappointed with this enforced replay mechanic, for sure. There are a total of 16 songs in the game, each of which has 3 awards. There are also 40+ challenges in the game and eventually, an online community with downloadable content. I don’t know how the online story is set up, but the company promises a “Korean” style, with an Avatar and item shop planned in the future. I’m not completely sure what this means, but if I had to guess, I’m assuming that players will be able to expand the content of their game by spending real cash on game-related currency. It’s an okay pricing scheme, so long as the stuff isn’t too expensive. Using that scheme, plenty of extra songs/levels and dances could easily be added to the game for a reasonable price, so it’s not an entirely bad idea. At the end of the day, though, “Mevo & The Grooveriders” is still an overly simplistic game that has plenty of potential, so long as Red Rocket Games sticks with it and really enforces the idea of new content.

Overall, Red Rocket Games hasn’t done an absolutely terrible job, but a few tweaks and lots of content should be taken into serious consideration by the core developers  If these tweaks and additions are ever implemented, then a release for the Nintendo DS or Nintendo Wii with new motion controls would be a wonderful idea, provided the controls are handled properly, right down to plenty of new note types for full effect.

Pros:
-Somewhat fresh style.
-Simple enough to play for even the newest gamers.
-Not very expensive.
-Can easily be played on many older computers.

Cons:
-Graphics are a bit dumbed down, with no options for high-end machines.
-Music is very generic, despite the decent variety of genres.
-Gameplay seems very out of sync.
-Medals can’t be unlocked in a single shot, no matter how well you do.

Bottom Line:
If the developers ever add fixes and more content to this, we could see a great little game. In short, don’t buy it until you hear word of a decent patch. If that happens, this would be worth your hard-earned money, for sure.

NOTE: I’ll edit my review to reflect any changes that are patched in at a later date. This game really does have potential and I’d like to see it shine!

Overall Rating: 5.00

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