By: Mike Chen
Aliens have abducted the world’s best indie rock bands, and to fight back you must blast lasers out of amplifiers by tapping buttons to the beat. It sounds ridiculous, though Loud on Planet X presents a tongue-in-cheek way to enjoy hipster music, a far cry from the last time musicians fought bad guys in an arcade game.
To attack in Loud on Planet X you simply tap a button in rhythm to the music. The response time can be fine-tuned for accuracy in the options. Outside of that, there really aren’t too many controls to note. Like many rhythm games, your satisfaction with the controls will come from how strong your sense of rhythm is, as even the initial levels can be a little overwhelming at first.
Loud on Planet X is mostly about the licensed music you unlock level by level, and, as such, the rest of the audio/visual experience is fairly minimal. The graphics are all cartoonish a la South Park’s Terrance and Phillip, with band members bouncing along in rhythm (a good visual cue if you get lost on the beat).
If you know these bands, you’ll probably get a kick out of seeing them presented this way. Aliens look like the tentacle from Maniac Mansion/Day of the Tentacle and feature little animation. It’s effective but simple, and the clean presentation allows you to focus on the music while assessing the alien invasion.
For what it’s worth, my PS4 version of the screen seemed a little oversized, as menu items were partially out of the screen’s presentation. I couldn’t find any way to adjust this in the options menu.
Loud on Planet X is essentially a mash-up of Guitar Hero and the old Tapper arcade games. Four different lines of attackers line up against the band on stage, and each line brings aliens progressively down. Tap the corresponding button against the beat of the song, and your amplifier shoots out lasers to blast away at the aliens.
If enough aliens get through, they’ll put your amp out of commission, which requires you to tap the appropriate button to fix it (while fending off aliens). If an alien gets through on a line with a broken amp, the band is attacked and it’s game over. Bonus attacks include fog machines, strobe lights and bouncers to add to your defense.
Each successful attack fills up a LOUD meter, which is essentially a bomb that wipes out enemies on screen. Strategically, you can fire off multiple lines at once by mashing buttons, should your timing be good enough (mine wasn’t). Other than that, this game is essentially made for an arcade-style experience with a reward of unlocking more songs to play.
Your enjoyment of the whole thing really depends on: 1) how much you like this genre of music, and 2) how much you like arcade-style rhythm games. For fans of either, it’s a fun diversion, but for everyone else, you’re not seeing anything groundbreaking here.
Loud on Planet X offers a new twist to arcade sensibilities. By bringing in critically lauded indie artists like Tegan & Sarah and Purity Ring to an old-school mentality, it creates a fresh, if somewhat limited, experience.