I’ve never been a fan of rhythm or music games. I’ve also never been the biggest fan of Dubstep music. However, Aaero serves as a decent way to enjoy both forms of media.
Developed by Mad Fellows, Aaero doesn’t have a story at all- which is fine. In the opening menu there is a tutorial mode which teaches you the ropes of the rhythm shooter and then you are literally thrown to the wolves. The lack of story doesn’t hurt the overall playing experience, it instead assures the player that this is indeed an arcade-style shooting frenzy. The gameplay consists of a handful of courses based around popular Dubstep songs. While most course follow a typical Run n’ Gun formula, there are a couple of boss runs thrown in as well to break up the monotony.
A Natural Evolution in Rhythm Games
The rhythm aspects of Aaero work particularly well. Instead of following suit with more popular rhythm games such as Guitar Hero or Rock Band in which the score relies on timing and button input, Aaero‘s rhythm works more like a platformer. For these segments, the player must align the spaceship with colored streaks surrounding the screen. Most often these streaks will move corresponding to the song played, and the player is tasked with keeping the ship on track with the streak. Often times in the game, the lyrics or lead to the song depend on theplayer keeping the ship on track. If the player misses the ribbon, the lyrics drop out.
That Damn Shooting
The shooting in Aaero is simple enough, but possibly it’s biggest downfall. In order to shoot, the player must maneuver the right analog stick around tracking all of the enemies and their projectiles then blowing them up with the right trigger. While simple on paper, in practice it gets quite convoluted. One problem being that the color of the aiming reticle blends into some of the backgrounds, making it particularly difficult to aim. Also, some of the explanations can seem a bit obtuse. The player is never told how many targets they can lock onto at once, so I often found a stray projectile unaccounted for heading straight towards me that I could not shoot down.
Another major issue is the general overwhelmingness of some of the courses. The first few levels are simple and straightforward, fairly simple platforming/rhythm sections, broken up with shooting areas. However around the fourth or fifth level, that all goes out the window. The game mixes the shooting segments in with the Rhythm sections and the result is simply not fun.
At one point, I was being targeted with several projectiles while having to lock onto at least 5 different enemies and moving my ship along a particularly jagged streak. I really wouldn’t have had an issue with this difficulty spike if it came later. This would have allowed me to work up the technique that would have made this seem fair. But instead this came incredibly close to the beginning. What made it even more confusing is that the following level was a boss run, and the level after that was noticeably easier, making the more difficult level seem incredibly out of place.
Aesthetically, Aaero is an incredibly pretty game. The art style almost reminds me of Journey with it’s barren desert backdrops and beautiful ambient lights. It simply has more things to blow up in it.
Not for All The Wub Wub in The World
The aspects that Aero gets right, it absolutely nails. I loved the platforming-like rhythm sections, the overall progression of difficulty, and how it all blended with the soundtrack. I didnt even mind the dubstep that much. I found myself beeping, booping, and wubbing along with the songs. Unfortunately, the shooting element of the game really brought the total package down.
- Truly beautiful art
- A surprisingly enjoyable soundtrack
- Fun arcade-y rhythm vibe
- That damn shooting
- No story at all
- Sudden Difficulty spike
As a pure rhythm game, I’d recommend Aaero in a heartbeat- you would simply have to slog through some shooting.