Sunday, August 24, 2014

First Impression: Audition Portable

 In the summer of 2005, Korea launched a rhythm MMO game called Audition Online Dance Battle. The game plays very similar to the Playstation 1 game Bust-A-Groove. The game became a huge success, so much so they actually created an offline version of the game for the PSP called "Audition Portable". I was (very) lucky enough to get my hands on this little game, and I will be giving you an Audition veteran's first impression on this Korean exclusive.

 First off, the game is very English friendly. There is very little Korean you need to worry about other than item names, song titles, and interface, but those are pretty minor to the overall gameplay. The game starts out with a series of options such as free, standard, and network modes, a jukebox for casually listening to the music, and a collection option where you can customize your character's look, and check out various unlocks you have obtained. When you first start the game, you only have 2 stages, 20 songs, and a couple of outfits to choose from. In order to unlock more you'll need to play through the game's Standard Mode to get more unlocks.

 The way Standard Mode works is you work through 5 stages, each with a set of 3 songs to choose from of increasing difficulty. Each stage pits you against 1-4 AI opponents to face in a Battle Party score battle-type of situation. If you score more points than the AI scores you win the round and move on to the next stage. After the 5th stage is a sort of bonus "boss" stage, where you play a very fast 150+ bpm song against a tough AI opponent. While it's not real necessary to beat this final stage since you will have already unlocked something during the first 5 stages, beating this final stage unlocks even more to the collection.

 Basic gameplay includes 2 difficulties and 2 modes of play. Easy difficulty allows for 2 passes of the bead to enter in the button commands before hitting the final beat to register a score. Normal difficulty only allows for the first pass (much like the online game) only giving you a short amount of time to hit the button commands. There is also a 4-button, and 8-button style of play. 4-button only requires you to press the arrow commands (you can use both d-pad and face buttons). 8-buttons requires both arrow and face button combinations for an added challenge that is actually more difficult than the 8-key variant in the online version of the game.

 There are very slight differences between the PC online game and this portable version. The most obvious is the layout is very different with the level, scrolling bead, and Chance icon are all located below the button commands rather than above. There is also an HP meter at the top corner of the screen which plays a roll similar to other rhythm games. The more you miss the beat, the lower your HP drains until it is empty and you lose. The arrow pattern is very different from the PC counterpart. In the online game you start with levels 1-5 in 4-beat repetitions without stop. From level 6-9, you go through 4 sets of commands each level with short breaks in between. Afterwards you loop from levels 6-9 until the song ends. In the PSP version, you rest after every level and there is only one command for each level. Also, the loop goes from levels 3-9. Lastly, if you happen to dare yourself to switch on Chance mode, the game shuffles between 1-3 chance arrows per command. Finish moves are still with only 1 chance arrow as is custom to the game.

 Overall, the game is a very nice alternative for when you're not near a computer and need to get your Audition fix, or get some arrow-reading practice. The game comes with a nice collection of over 60 songs along with some exclusives not found in the online game from artists like Sweet Box, XR, The Gold, and Wa Wa. If you are lucky enough to find yourself a copy of this rare game and you love the online game, I highly suggest you grab it while you can. It is a nice alternative to the online game and also gives you a taste of what the gameplay interface looked like before all the graphical updates you see today!


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