Beatstar is the hot new mobile rhythm game in town – not to be confused with the popular Beastar anime. With easy-to-understand gameplay that scales smoothly in difficulty, combined with playlists tailored to age ranges and preferred musical eras, Beatstar will appeal to a wide range of mobile gamers. But can it stay in a stacked category of great rhythm games, or maybe even rank among the best Android games? It depends on your musical tastes, your level of patience, and how much money you are willing or unwilling to shell out.
Beatstar’s presentation of gameplay will sound familiar to Guitar Hero fans. Three vertical music bars run the length of your phone screen; square music blocks fall from the top of the screen towards you to the beat of the music. You then need to tap or drag the notes precisely when they overlap with your perfect bar. The closer the scores are to the center of the Perfect bar, the better your score, ranging from obvious perfect to perfect, including categorical failures.
Beatstar looks and feels great to play, offering hundreds of fully licensed songs to unlock.
If you completely miss a note, the song stops dead and asks the player to pay gems to redo only that part of the song. If you choose to pay, the song rewinds a bit and then gives you another chance to hit that note correctly this time. The cost to retry increases with each additional note missed, so accuracy is crucial to being able to complete tracks.
Beatstar looks and feels great to play. The gameplay is sleek and professional, the user interface is perfectly acceptable, and the range of songs available are hard to beat. It’s a particularly nice touch to see that the background and notes will glow brighter and brighter as you keep a perfect sequence. It really makes you feel like a total rock star when you have a killer streak going on!
Beatstar does have a few crucial ticks against this, however. The first is the smallest gripe for me: you can only play the game in online mode. It’s frustrating for gamers like me who travel and enjoy playing games on airplanes. In-flight wifi is often terrible and I never want to pay for it so mobile games without offline mode lose value in my opinion.
My most serious complaint with Beatstar is that its monetization severely punishes hardcore gamers who don’t pay. The way Beatstar progression works is that you start with around 10 songs at level 1 and then unlock new songs by earning XP as you complete tracks.
Once you start making real progress, monetizing Beatstar becomes brutally boring.
XP converts to gender-based lootboxes that will spit out a random track in that category at you when opened. It’s not that bad when you’re below level 2. But once you actually start progressing past beginner levels, the lootbox timers increase in duration, until you wait. hours for a lootbox to open.
Worse yet, you only have 3 slots available for pending boxes; once they’re all full you literally can no longer play the game until one of your slots runs its course and becomes available again. It even includes the ability to play songs you’ve already unlocked. This probably won’t be a problem for casual gamers who only play a song or two a day, but it quickly becomes a problem for heavy users.
This punitive paywall is an unfortunate symptom of the end-case of Beatstar’s Free-To-Play syndrome. This disease is by no means unique to Beatstar, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating, especially when compared to the more forgiving monetization schemes of other rhythm games.
Beatstar is not for everyone, but its huge range of artists and songs makes it a very attractive choice in rhythm games.
Anyway, I have to admit that Beatstar is not for me, but I can easily see how this game would appeal to other players. This is an especially good choice if your main motivation for playing rhythm games is learning to play your favorite songs. Beatstar offers a huge range of musical genres with tracks from real artists like Lady Gaga, Outkast, Doja Cat and Owl City, to name a few.
You’ve got pop, rock, hip-hop, alternative, electronics, and pretty much any other mainstream genre you can think of. Compare that with more heavily EDM-inspired games like Cytus II and it’s easy to see how gamers can look more to Beatstar than niche music-based games.
Beatstar is free to play with ads and in-app purchases, so it’s a great free game to try, at least for a few songs. Go ahead prepared to deal with blatant monetization incentives, which aren’t for everyone. If you’re willing to shell out some cash to speed things up, then go for it, champ!