Mevo and the Grooveriders PC Review
Music and rhythm action games have seen a massive increase in number and popularity in recent years. From the early days of PaRappa the Rapper, the genre has evolved into massive franchises such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Their success lies in the combination of something almost everybody loves – music – and then combining it with simple and addictive gameplay.
Mevo and the Grooveriders, from Chinese outfit Red Rocket Games, is as simple as rhythm games get; two keys to press in time with the on-screen prompts. That’s all there is to it. The default keys are the left and right shift keys, corresponding to the left and right arrows that appear on screen. Whenever your character, Mevo, touches one of these symbols, you need to press the correct key. It literally takes seconds to get to grips with, ensuring that anyone can get into the game straight away. The question, however, is whether the music – arguably the main element in a game like this – holds up to the test of providing good tunes to play along to.
Mevo is on a quest to reunite his fellow band members and restore sound to the land. The plot doesn’t need any further explanation than that. It’s tenuous at best, but you don’t need anything more in a game like this. All it does is provide some vague reasoning behind what you’re doing, and it succeeds in doing that. Mevo automatically travels through the levels, in a platform game-style way, jumping and dancing to the music until he reaches the end. Left and right arrows are littered throughout the level, and it’s up to you to press the correct keys in time with Mevo hitting each symbol. Fail to do this, and Mevo’s life will drain away until he dies. Then it’s a choice of restarting the level or giving up.
It’s a novel idea, providing more of a setting for the gameplay than other games in the genre. Five different worlds are available – with several levels in each – all of which have a different theme; ocean, desert, jungle, space, and wormhole. The fifteen levels in total are certainly full of life and activity, with plenty going on to either look pretty or distract you from hitting the symbols. One gripe is that you can’t adjust the game’s visuals to match your monitor’s resolution or graphics card. Anti-aliasing is sorely missed here, but as you concentrate more on the music and playing the game, the graphical frailties soon become less apparent.
As you progress through the levels you collect outfits, dance moves, and power-ups, which you can use to customise the appearance of your Mevo and enhance your scoring. Power-ups provide abilities such as hitting perfect notes every time and autopilot sections where the game’s played for you. You also collect what’s known as ‘Funk’, which are essentially notes that increase your score and enable you to unlock more moves and items. There are hundreds of combinations on offer, so if customising a character is your idea of fun, you’ll have lots to do here.
Another crucial aspect of the gameplay is collecting ‘Gruvs’, of which there are three varieties: silver, gold and diamond. A set of three is available on each level, and each requires a certain criteria to be met to win it. For example, it might be reaching a certain score on a level, or amassing a particular number of combos. While you don’t need to collect all of these, you will need to complete at least one level in each world with all three Gruvs unlocked, otherwise you can’t progress to the next world. While this might prove frustrating for some, it certainly improves the lifespan of the game, albeit in a slightly cheap way. There’s no racing through all the levels first time with this game. On the plus side, it’s enjoyable and challenging to revisit levels and unlock everything in them.
There’s no denying that Mevo and the Grooveriders is fun to play, but the main issue is the music. While the songs themselves are decent, the additional beats and noises that come into the mix when Mevo hits a symbol often seem out of time and out of place in the context of the song. It sounds plain odd at times, and detracts from the fun factor of building the song up by chaining combos and moves together. The freestyle section, in which you simply mash the keys to get a higher score, could have perhaps used more in the way of skill or thought behind it as well.
The difficulty level soon ramps up about halfway through the game, and with multiple routes through levels, plenty to unlock and addictive gameplay, Mevo and the Grooveriders provides a good amount of content for the asking price of £5.99. The bizarre music and strange noises and beats do take away from the experience somewhat, but it’s still an enjoyable game.