Konami’s new music game doesn’t have a dance pad or a funky plastic music instrument. Ubeat aka Jubeat in Japan has a four by four grid of plastic buttons. The sixteen buttons illuminate with patterns prompting players to press them on beat. Ubeat still emphasizes timed rhythm presses, but the game is different from Guitar Freaks and Beatmania. New players have to scan the grid to see which button you need to hit. Ubeat’s interface is also flexible. The easier songs have basic patterns where you follow a slow moving trail of single button presses. At a harder difficulty level the same song had a wave of lights moving upwards, then a horizontal zig-zag, and later a switch to a flurry of double button hits. You need fast fingers and a good memory for the most challenging levels. Ubeat can get complicated when all of the buttons light up with exploding fireworks.
The version Konami currently has in the US is completely localized and tilted towards pop music. You won’t find Metal Gear Solid remixes or Japan’s top 20 playlist here. Instead you get Take on Me from A-ha, Informer from one hit wonder Snow, Barbie Girl, YMCA, Sandstorm, and Scatman John. The few Japanese songs are sprinkled in the mix are mostly from veteran Konami composer Mutsuhiko Izumi. Konami is clearly targeting a casual, broader audience with Ubeat more than any of their other games. And it’s probably going to work. Ubeat could be a great bar game. The machine is small enough to throw in a corner, easy enough for anyone to learn in a single play, and a game that can sort of be played in a group. Divide the screen among friends and you have an instant party game.
While we’re waiting for a formal release date from Konami take a look at a bigger picture of the interface.
Photo credit Spencer/Siliconera.