Beat Hazard Ultra

What is Beat Hazard Ultra? Well, the best way to describe it would be a mix of Asteroids and Audiosurf. Beat Hazard is a simple yet effective and addicting concept that provides endless hours of gameplay, arcade style: you control a ship and the objective, obviously, is to survive. For that you will have to keep cleaning entire armadas of enemy ships off of your screen. Nothing new here, except this time, everything depends on the soundtrack: your soundtrack.

How does it work

Try not to die in the last fade-out seconds of a song. It's quite frustrating, especially on longer songs.

Equipped with a simple file browser (and optional iTunes and FM radio support) any sound file on your computer can be another challenging level. This has several implications: your firepower and rate of fire will be determined by loudness, so if you choose classical music you will most likely have several moments of trouble, as your screen fills up with enemies faster than you can shoot them down. Longer tunes will, of course, present a greater challenge, as you have a very limited number of lives (you can get a couple of extra ones as an unlockable perk later on). So, if you want a challenge you can load up Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and crank up the difficulty, and that’ll do the trick.

How does it work Game modes are simple, there’s regular Single Player, where you play single songs to completion (or die trying), Survival, which is the same as single player except that the game will play everything in the chosen directory until either you lose all lives or the playlist ends and Boss Rush, where a new boss is spawned on the screen every 30 seconds, and it’s your job to kill each one within that time. This last mode follows the same style as the survival mode, lasting until the game/playlist is over.

Easy on the eyes too........not!


I should point out that this game is visually intensive, and as such, the first thing you see when you run the game is a photosensitive epilepsy warning. Explosions, bullets and even interface elements will flash quickly and very strongly depending, again, on loudness levels. If you find it unpleasant or too aggressive on the eyes, you just need to change the “visual intensity” option to acceptable levels. On the other hand, if you have no love for your eyesight, you can crank it up beyond the default 100%.

Recently, new DLC was added, adding a bunch of new features: for starters you now have a co-op mode, meaning you can shoot your way through your favourite song with the help of a friend. This system has room for improvement however, since, to be able to play a song with someone, both of you must have the file. There should be a streaming system of some sort, where a player would just stream the music to the other. I found that a shared Dropbox works wonders in this situation, but the streaming idea would eliminate the need for such hijinks.

Other Thoughts

Contrary to the usual pacifist Doctor, this TARDIS has quite a lot of firepower.

It feels really gratifying to swipe hundreds of enemies from your screen every minute, while dodging bullets, asteroids and smaller enemies filling the screen, danmaku style. The game’s perk system and achievements ensure that you’ll be going through hours and hours of music and add quite a bit of variety and longevity to the game. And don’t even get me started on the Shadow Missions DLC and the ship hangar. There is definitely a lot of music to go through. Each ship has three missions associated with it and while certain missions are easy enough, certain ones require you to go through hell and preferably without dying, since in Shadow Mission mode, every death comes with a huge penalty to mission progress (with many that completely reset your progress or make you lose an entire song.

 The ship hangar, as said before, has a whole bunch of pre-made ships which you can use, each with a different style of fire: some fire a single, very powerful beam straight ahead, others fire ten weak beams in ten different directions, so whatever your gameplay style, you will most likely find something that suits you. And if you don’t, well, the Steam Workshop will ensure that anything you can think of already exists and can be used as a ship. Super Sonic? Done. A TARDIS? No problem. Everything can be found on the workshop, from Touhou characters to Obama’s face. And if by chance it doesn’t exist, you can make it. As simple as that.

In conclusion, it’s a simple “Asteroids on Steroids” kind of game, a great arcade experience and pretty cheap too. Recommended.

Scores can get pretty insane in long songs, even on medium levels of difficulty.

Time Played:     40 Hours
Achievements:   63 / 63 (100%)