Reviewing Humble Bundle 5: Beat Hazard Ultra
Although a few of the games in Humble Bundle 5 are making their Android debut, Beat Hazard Ultra has been out on the Play Store for some time now. That doesn't mean that it isn't a worthwhile title though, as it still brings together the arcade shooter and music genres in an interesting way. The game will be different for every user too, because the gameplay changes based on your own local music collection.
Hang with us after the break to see a little bit more about Beat Hazard Ultra, one of the games in the Humble Bundle 5.
Beat Hazard Ultra, on the highest level, is an Asteroids arcade game that adapts to your music to change the gameplay. That's not to take anything away from the game, but it's the easiest way to describe the gameplay in one phrase. The first menu after hitting "play" lets you select a music track (more on this later), set the game type, then get to the game. You get a top-down view of a small space ship sitting in space, which you control to shoot down the incoming ships, rubble and other objects. Your left joystick controls your flying in every direction, while the right stick controls your shooting direction. The control sensitivity and orientation takes some getting used to, but once you're there that's all you have to learn.
Now, back to the music angle. As it points out in the tutorial, Beat Hazard Ultra's gameplay changes depending on the beat and volume of the music on your phone. Faster music leads to faster shooting -- but also faster approaching enemies to take you out -- and slower music does the opposite. The app uses any music that the phone's "media scanner" has found and cycles through it, although unfortunately due to the way Google Play Music stores files they will not show up in the game. If you don't have any music tracks stored on your device, there are a few techno tracks loaded with the game. And those tracks certainly show off how intense Beat Hazard Ultra can get, so if you're into fast-paced music you can have a lot of fun here.
The levels last as long as the song you select, so if you choose longer tracks you're in for a bit more of a challenge. As the game goes on, just like many arcade games of the same style you get bonus points for picking up objects floating around you as well as for blowing up incoming enemies. You build up combos by not getting hit by the incoming shots, and can use bonus perks as you gain them through the song. Finish a track and you get a score that's tied not to a level but that track itself. You can "brag" about the score when you're done or move on to the next. There's a whole host of achievements for different things you can accomplish along the way, as well as "perks" that you can purchase. You purchase them with money you make as you complete tracks, which again gives an incentive for choosing longer songs for yourself.
Beat Hazard Ultra takes a standard arcade-style game and gives it a new dimension by letting users choose their own soundtrack. Above that, the soundtrack choices actually influence the pace and difficulty of the game, which is neat. The game is currently available in the Play Store for $4.49 on its own, but it can also be found in the Humble Bundle 5. The bundle contains more than just Beat Hazard Ultra, and if you haven't caught them we've been reviewing each of the games available this time around. You can see those right here, and keep your eyes on Android Central as we review the last few games in the coming days.
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Andrew was an Executive Editor, U.S. at Android Central between 2012 and 2020.