Different Kind of Pitchfork for This Mob – Loud Crowd
I’m sure this is the sort of thing Kieron Gillen has happy dreams about at night; a rhythm game about dancing which features the likes of Cut Copy, Santogold and Ladytron (and a whole bunch of other Pitchfork front page stuff) while keeping a very comics-esque aesthetic. The fact it’s all browser based, free to play (with micro-transactions down the line) and is very addictive to play is surely only icing on top. Of course, I had to make the most ridiculous looking afro-sporting, jumper-wearing, belly-protruding dancer possible, just to get all these people to stop dancing for me. Pity it didn’t work.
Loud Crowd is developed by a mix mash of people from Harmonix (the guys behind the first few Guitar Hero games, and the subsequent Rock Bands) and Turbine, MMO veterans of Lord of the Rings Online fame. That means the rhythm games are fun to play, and the online backend works, for the most part, pretty smoothly. It’s particularly important in something like this, where beats are king, and if you have the slightest lag you’re going to fail. For the most part it works wonderfully, but occasionally I did have a few combo-breaking lag moments.
There are two games available at the moment. One is a hit-the-arrow-keys-in-sequence dancing rhythm game, and the other is a DJ scratching one, driven by whatever music is playing, but mainly focusing on you collecting dots while avoiding combo breakers. Both games work cleverly, and have multiple difficulty settings that allow you to wrack up more points. The most clever thing about the whole site, though, is that the music never stops. There’s no artificial track start when you begin a dance section; it just formulates your moves depending on whatever song is playing at the moment, and you go along with it. It makes the whole thing very seamless, and without those forced breaks, it takes a song you don’t like to stop you playing, which is very clever of Conduit Labs (the developers), but dangerous to how much work you get done as a result.
There’s also a social interaction side to the whole thing, allowing you to talk to other players, dance for them and charge up your battery to allow you to go into Blast Mode, that lets you complete a challenge without playing it, unlocking clothes, tracks and… stamps? Apparently you can stamp other players to demonstrate how you think of them. Or something. I didn’t even figure out that section for a while. You can also request tracks with the in game currency you accumulate, and semi-customise your avatar.
It’s very barebones at the moment, but Conduit Labs have stated that they want to create the game with the community (in a recent interview with GameSetWatch), rather than just push out a finished product that people might not like. The game is currently in a beta stage, but it’s definitely very playable, and it will be very interesting to see how it evolves.