Music games have perhaps been the single greatest development in next generation gaming. With Guitar Hero and Rock Band, every single song in an entire music catalog became a new game, so there were infinite new additions to every music gaming experience as long as the developer would update the downloadable content. Music gaming continued to thrive on iOS, as you can check out our list of the 10 Best Music Games. Will Symphonica join our list?
Symphonica may be the last frontier in music gaming. After Dance Dance Revolution, Guitar Hero, Rock Band and DJ Hero, the only musical genre left to turn into a game is classical. Symphonica lets you conduct a symphony orchestra, by tapping along with the great works of classical music. Great use of public domain music too.
Like all great music games, the fundamentals of tapping are the same. When each note crosses the line, you have to make the appropriate stroke. Symphonica has some great new additions to the familiar array of taps. You may simply need to tap a short beat or hold your finger on the screen for a long note. Or you may need to tap and hold two fingers. Is it just me or do the double notes look dirty? Especially if they’re followed by a string of single notes, right? Some of the more challenging notes include swiping the arc between two notes, or spreading your fingers apart and back together again. Kind of like a maestro waving his wand around, only it’s just your finger.
The game play is phenomenal and the music is beautiful. You probably know all of these songs, just not by name. You get to play along with The Nutcracker, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, or La Primavera (Spring). Of course these are pared down to the most memorable sections of the concerto, otherwise you’d be playing for 25-30 minutes.
There is a story for Symphonica too and it can take a long time to tap through all the conversations between characters. There doesn’t seem to be a way to skip ahead to the music, but once you clear the level you can play the songs in Concert mode, rather than Episode (story) mode. You are Takt, and you have to take the Fayharmonic to the top. They seem to be the Mighty Ducks of the symphony world. There’s really no need for this story. It’s just gets you to the same place where you’re playing the conducting game, so just keep tapping through all the dialogue until it’s over.
Unfortunately, only the first three levels are included in the free game. There are some beautiful pieces of music in those three levels, but it gets pricey to continue. The full game is $15 which is nonsense. I’d be happy to pay four or five bucks for the basic game and a dollar or two for any additional music I want to add, but $15 to get the full game? I actually like this game, so I bought it even though I’m not getting reimbursed for it. Against my principals, it is that fun. But it’s not cool to charge that much, in that way. I’ve just got to own the section with Ode to Joy because that’s from Die Hard, one of my favorite movies.
Symphonica could be a great game with high replay value for all the music involved, and trying to get 100% on each symphony. Instead, it’s a good game with some unfortunate design mistakes that you have to patiently skip through, and the full game price is ridiculous. Activision, it’s up to you to step up with Conductor Hero.