The lights are on
With a shorter Kickstarter campaign than normal and a hefty target goal, Amplitude is one Kickstarter that is likely to come down to the wire. As of this writing, the revival of Harmonix’s excellent music game is still over $100,000 away from its $775,000 goal, with less than two days remaining to gather funds.
Many Game Informer editors (this writer included) are big fans of Amplitude, and we’re rooting for a success for Harmonix. Wondering what all the fuss is about? Here are five reasons to be excited about the potential – we’ll leave it up to you to decide if it’s worth your money.
Let’s forget for a minute that this is a music game. One of the big reasons to love Amplitude isn’t for the tunes, but the challenging and unique gameplay that comes along with the music. Longtime fans of Amplitude will happily regale you with tales of how complex the strategy can be in Amplitude. Unlike most music games, Amplitude has you juggling multiple game tracks simultaneously, and judging where and when to switch is key. Plus, precision control inputs are essential for success, requiring intense focus and long hours of practice. Amplitude is certainly a game friendly to new players, but at its core, it’s a game targeted to hardcore players willing to invest some serious effort.
The original Amplitude pre-dated the music game craze, and at the time was something of a niche game. As such, the musical soundtrack was eclectic and surprising. Already, Harmonix has promised some awesome collaborators are coming onboard for the new Amplitude, including artists like Jim Guthrie, who did the Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP, as well as fan favorites Freezepop – longtime fans will remember the improbably catchy “Super-Sprøde” from the original game. Where Harmonix embraced more mainstream music in its Rock Band titles, you can bet that a new entry will be filled with unusual and surprising songs.
If you were lucky enough to have a multitap for your PS2, you got to enjoy the craziness that was multiplayer Amplitude. With four players all onscreen working to create the tracks of a given song, there was a definite cooperative vibe that pre-dated the collaborative fun of Rock Band. However, unlike that later game, a great cutthroat competitive angle was also present in Amplitude, letting you screw up your buddy by knocking them off a track, messing up their view, or other hilarious distractions. Learning to respond to these attacks was key to mastering the game. For years, Amplitude had a high place in my hierarchy of fun party games – I would rejoice at the opportunity to see those days return with a new entry.
Amplitude’s original PS2 visuals were trippy – an entry on new-gen consoles would be absolutely mesmerizing. In the original game, a combination of strange colored backgrounds and music video-style images flashed onto the background, while the tracks themselves looked like a futuristic racing game. A new entry has the potential to be incredibly gorgeous, filled with spinning colors and high-def beat blasters. After a good bit of practice, Amplitude became one of those games with a Zen-like trance quality during gameplay, thanks to the way the music, visuals, and intense focus on gameplay all came together. I want that experience again, but on a new system.
Harmonix has given us nearly all of the great music game innovations that helped popularize the genre and, for a few years, make it a phenomenon. Amplitude was an early project that came before most gamers knew about the company’s strength, and it’s a gameplay concept that deserves to be updated for a new generation. Moreover, knowing many of the Harmonix team members personally, I can confidently say that no other studio so clearly grasps the links between music and gameplay, and the way to make the melding of the two into something fun.
I’m crossing my fingers that Amplitude has a big last couple of days for its funding drive. If you want to follow the drama, or contribute to the possibility of the project coming to fruition, check out Amplitude’s full Kickstarter page.
Email the author Matt Miller, or follow on Game Informer.