October 4, 2014 4:45 AM | Lena LeRay
Fat Beets has gotten a rocky start. Its Kickstarter failed miserably, raising a grand total of $25 from 4 backers. That didn't stop Dan Whiteman of Giant Evil Robots, though, and I, for one, am glad. Fat Beets is a smooth blend of rhythm game and matching-style puzzle game that is forgiving to pick up and play but requires practice and coordination to master.
The player is presented with a standard-looking matching puzzle game field populated with vegetable beets in four colors, with the occasional wild card or other special beet thrown in. Above that is a marquee which scrolls from right to left, representing the music and showing on which song beats the player must destroy puzzle beets of a given color to score. Destroying puzzle beets can only be accomplished when the corresponding color of vegetable beet comes up in the musical beat marquee. Clicking the wrong color of puzzle beet (or clicking any puzzle beets when no colored beet symbol is shown for the current musical beat) will end the player's combo streak with no puzzle beets destroyed and no points awarded.
What makes the game easy to pick up and play is that the player is never punished for not trying to destroy puzzle beats when able to do so. If they have a maxed-out combo and don't try to score on a musical beat with a colored beet symbol, the combo stays in place. Only if the player tries to score and fails is the combo lost. The song also never changes based on player performance. It's possible to start a song and just listen to it all the way through without actually playing the game. Players who want to get the best scores and highest rankings possible, though, must try to destroy something on every beet beat, and that's where the difficulty rises. As with Guitar Hero, though, the beet beat pattern is set for every song and once players become more familiar with the patterns they'll be able to plan ahead better.
If I were to compare Fat Beets to any other single game, the game that comes to the front of my mind is Crypt of the Necrodancer. This may seem incongruous, given that roguelikes and puzzle games are nothing alike. However, both games stand out from their base genres by using rhythm as a way of forcing the player to think and react quickly. In Crypt of the Necrodancer, the player can only move once per beat (unless they have certain equipment) and must continue to move once per beat every beat or lose the bonuses that will help them survive longer in the long run. In Fat Beets, the player can only destroy puzzle beets on certain musical beats and must try to hit every beet beat if they want the best possible scores. Every playthrough of Crypt of the Necrodancer is different because of its procedurally generated dungeons, even though the monsters and equipment that spawn within them can be memorized by the player. Every playthrough of Fat Beets is different because new puzzle beets are generated randomly, even though the player can memorize the beet beat pattern of the songs.
You can get Fat Beets right now for $2.99 via itch.io for Windows or Android or off the Google Play store. Its modest price is matched by a modest size, with only eight tracks to play, but that number is up from the three tracks that existed when the Kickstarter was launched in July.
Colorblind folk should watch a video of the game in action before purchasing; The beets are in different shapes on the puzzle field, but the musical beat indicators are distinguished by color only.