Music games are big business these days, with brands like Guitar Hero and Rock Band turning mild-mannered individuals into head-banging lunatics that think nothing of standing in their clammy living rooms brandishing tiny plastic replicas of musical instruments whilst their puzzled friends and family look on, aghast.
While these titles are as pleasing to the ear as one of Jimmy Page’s guitar solos, not everyone subscribes to that particular brand of music, and as a result we’re now seeing urban gamers catered for with a new breed of game that allows you to step behind the wheels of steel and drop some seriously phat beats.
Hip Hop All Star is just one member of this new contingent of rhythm-action games, granting the opportunity to step into the shoes of actual hip hop DJs. It’s a dream come true if you’re into a bit of turntable terror.
If you think that Snoop Doggy Dogg is a cartoon character and vinyl is something you lay on the floor in your kitchen, then it’s all going to seem a little alien, and there’s a danger you might confuse this title with a very similar iPhone release – namely Tap Tap Revenge.
Despite the rap vibe, Hip Hop All Star is essentially a clone of Tapulous’s best-selling app. You tap the screen when markers pass over a certain point on the turntable and hold your finger down for markers that display a glowing trail behind them.
The only real difference is the fact that instead of the note markers coming down a straight line – as they do in Tap Tap Revenge – they rotate around the turntable towards the tap zone.
The title’s only real unique feature is Scratch mode, accessible when you’ve performed well in the main game. Here, you can boost your score by rhythmically scratching a second turntable.
The temptation is to quickly move your finger across the screen to rack up a huge combo. While more controlled scratching does usually yield a larger points haul, a more random approach often seems to work just as effectively, which cheapens the experience a little.
The presentation is likeable, with animated menus, colourful backgrounds and a smoothly rotating turntable. Sadly the music is rather less impressive, with the tracks themselves coming across a bit muffled – even when listened through a pair of headphones.
Nevertheless, the gameplay is decent enough. There’s something appealing about prodding away to any form of music, and when you manage to make your way through an entire song without missing a single beat then it results in a genuine glow of pride.
Multiplayer is also in the cards, although it’s local only, offering connectivity over wi-fi and Bluetooth. With Tap Tap Revenge 3 boasting online games, this is something of a letdown.
Where Hip Hop All Star comes well and truly unstuck is longevity. The songs that come with the game will keep you occupied for only so long, and although additional song packs are available, I-play can’t hope to match the gargantuan selection boasted by its rivals.
If you’re a fan of rap music, Hip Hop All Star is likely to strike a chord, but don’t go expecting an authentic DJ-style experience. This is essentially a clone with a grittier feel to it, and sadly that’s not a good rap to go on.