By: Quinn Potter
Here we have Inside My Radio, a cleverly-themed side scroller that will make your musical heart sing with joy. In this puzzler-platformer hybrid, your avatar has to time each move to the rhythm that provides a steady background beat.
Jump, pulse, dash, slam, help – controls are basic and easy to master. There’s no re-mapping available, but there’s no need, either, because the controls are well-placed. There’s a fluid response system, so it’s fairly easy to synchronize your moves to the beat.
Graphics are very low-resolution and simple but appealing for a number of reasons. First, they are highly geometric. The circles, squares, and rectangles that dominate give the game a nice edgy feel. Second, the background is nicely layered. There aren’t a lot of details to get lost in, but the bold images pop like the paper cutouts of Matisse.
Imagine layering three of these together and you get a sense of the visual richness in the backdrops. Third, the colors pop. The color palette adds to the nostalgic, retro-vibe of coolness that ties together the game. All in all, it’s a nice package.
Avatars are fun and highly original. You start as a headphone-wearing emoji (Awake the World), move to a slick blonde guy with sunglasses (Funky Barry), become a dreadlocked Rastafarian, etc. All the forms are reflected in the musical choices, so the electronic backbeat gets overlaid with a hint of New Wave, Reggae, or whatever is appropriate.
At each level, you get to play on different kinds of DJ equipment, such as cassette tapes (remember those?), a mixer, a sound-level meter and a drum. As you manipulate each variable, you’ll hear the effect on the soundtrack that’s playing. There are also silhouettes of music instruments and equipment that’s both modern and vintage.
The game is pretty simple, so you can just jump right in. There’s a cut scene to open the game so you get a little backstory on what has happened. In the first level, you have to find Barry. Time your key movements to the beat and you’ll find it pretty easy to race through the level. Once you find him, you’ll take on his identity and face your first boss battle. Again, timing is everything.
Explore some new areas, battle giant spiders and become super-charged. When you’re supercharged, you can use any ability for as long as needed without stopping. You can also destroy enemies with just a touch. Your enemies are all AI, but you won’t have any helpers here.
The narrative is a bit thin and isn’t going to be the reason why you want to find your way out of this dying boombox. It’s really the sweet synesthesia of seeing music instead of just hearing it. In a way, it’s like the circuits of your brain have been crossed so that all your senses — actions, reaction, visual and auditory — are tied together into one musical unit.
If you don’t play music, dance, or have a decent sense of rhythm, the enjoyment of this game might escape you. If you do have an innate sense of rhythm, however, you’re going to like what’s going on here. This is a game that embraces a wide variety of music: electronic, reggae, disco, dub. That’s a nice touch, as is the nostalgia of vintage instruments and pop cultural references.
A couple of downsides are that the game is fairly short (just a couple hours to complete) and that it can get a little repetitive towards the end. Still, those issues weren’t enough to outweigh the fun and creativity that seem to have gone into making the game so enjoyable to play.
The sincerity and detail of Inside My Radio really pay off for the player. There are a number of little moments where the game just shines. Adjust levels on the mixer, play with chords and beams of lights, bounce across a platform of multi-colored levels or a series of drums and watch how the music integrates with the visual. If you’re hanging with some musical friends for the night, count on this for some mellow fun.