Review: LOUD on Planet X (PS4)

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Title: LOUD on Planet X
Format: PlayStation Network Download (661.6 MB)
Release Date: April 19, 2016
Publisher: Pop Sandbox
Developer: Pop Sandbox
Original MSRP: $7.99
ESRB Rating: T
LOUD on Planet X is also available on PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
What happens when a developer mashes together a rhythm game with a lane defense game similar to Plants vs. Zombies? You get Loud on Planet X.

The premise is that some musicians have been abducted by aliens and they must use the power of their music to fight back and survive. Gameplay is rather simple; there are four lanes in which aliens will walk and the only thing stopping them from the band is a set of large speakers.

Luckily for the bands those speakers can withstand a couple of hits and fire lasers. In order to fire the lasers players have to tap the corresponding button of a lane to the beat of a song. For those that need a little assistance keeping the beat, the border of the screen will pulsate to visualize the pattern.

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The alien foes come in a couple varieties with the number of their eyes indicating the amount of hits required to take them down. Some come equipped with shields while others, once destroyed, turn into two one-hit creatures.

There can be some strategy involved in figuring out which creature needs to be dealt with first as some will move faster than others and what side effects occur when an enemy is destroyed.

… an enjoyable and lighthearted experience …
There are two meters to pay attention to, the first being a mystery box meter in the top right corner. Once filled up, this one gives players a random power-up that can be dropped into a lane after being activated with L2. These power-ups range from a fog machine that will slow the enemies in a lane, bouncers that push back enemies, or a strobe light that will auto-fire, to name a few.

The second meter, found in the top center of the screen, is the LOUD meter which fills up as enemies are killed. Once full, pressing L2 and R2 will activate a special attack for the band that will destroy everything on the screen.

The Loud attack is a stylish visual that sheds a little light on the personalities of the bands since each band has a unique looking attack.

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I did find the power-ups to be somewhat optional on the Easy and Medium difficulties since the hordes can be dealt with just using the lasers. And if keeping a beat is difficult, it is possible to pass a stage by mostly repairing the speakers protecting the band.

So losing the beat does not mean a loss is guaranteed, but the three-star rating given at the end of each level will certainly reflect your ability to stay on beat.

The game lacks complexity and difficulty especially if you have a history with rhythm games so I would recommend that if you are a fan of the genre, play it on the highest difficulty. But for newcomers or casual rhythm game players this is an enjoyable and lighthearted experience.

… The art design pops …
Visuals:
LOUD on Planet X is a bright and colorful game that goes hand in hand with the soundtrack. The bands are drawn in a cartoony fashion yet capture the personalities well. From their character models performing during the level, to their unique Loud powers, it’s a cheery affair and a good time all around.

The art design pops and helps the game stand out from others on the market. From the choice of colors of the aliens and stages, to the pink pulsating border that helps players stay on beat, everything works together for a cohesive art style.

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Audio:
A rhythm game lives and dies by its soundtrack and if you like the indie/alternative music scene then this soundtrack is fantastic. With bands like Tegan and Sara, Metric, Purity Ring and F*cked Up there are no low points on the soundtrack for my musical tastes. Every artist and track blends surprisingly well together and fits the art style and gameplay.

The music styles vary from fast punk, slower jam bands, rap, and other indie selections. I went into the game knowing just a few of the artists only to finish it ready to download some new band’s albums.

… there are no community leaderboards …
I would highly recommend that if any of the featured artists interest you, check out the game’s soundtrack. One of these bands you might not be familiar with could end up a new favorite.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component. The one thing this game is missing and really needs is online leaderboards. Currently there are no community leaderboards in the game at all, so the only thing keeping a player coming back is to best their personal records.

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Conclusion:
I am not much a rhythm game player, but my time with LOUD on Planet X was a pleasant one. It might be one of the more simple rhythm games out there but that should not be a strike against it. It’s a fun game that boasts a fantastic soundtrack featuring some of really catchy songs from great artists.

The soundtrack might be too “indie” for some people and that’s okay. Not every music genre will please everyone. It features twenty-eight tracks with each artist providing two. This means the game can be considered rather “short” but the asking price ($7.99) seems more than fair for the the amount of content included.

The difficulty level might be a little on the easy side to compensate for the simplicity of the mechanics, but neither aspect took away from my enjoyment of LOUD on Planet X.

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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