How do you get a feel for a music game when there's no sound? Answer: Learn to visualise music.
Rockstar's game that's more like a music application, Beaterator, features a ton of modes for the making of music on your PSP — all of which Stephen Totilo breaks down for you here. The project was very much the brainchild of Grammy Award-winning rapper/composer Timbaland and it was his goal to give a younger generation the chance to understand music at a fundamental level.
"We want to educate people," the Rockstar rep yelled over the super-loud club music blasting during Sony Computer Entertainment's PSP media event. "That's why Timbaland is involved."
Beaterator, you see, is about more than just pressing buttons until you find a sequence that sounds good. And it's not just a construction-paper type mode where you can cut and paste pre-rendered music together any which way you want. Using the intricate tools in the Song and Melody Crafter modes, along with some really well-written Tips and video tutorials, a gamer could learn the fundamentals of music theory. If they could hear the sound, that is.
Even without the sound, though, I was able to understand the construction of songs just by looking at the breakdown of beats within an original Timbaland drum loop. Two beats on a crisp snare at 1.3 into the song was so easy to comprehend from the interface that I just knew it would wreck the backbeat to subtract the first one – but not the second. Even though I couldn't hear the sound of the game over the blaring of the club music, my eyes grasped why my ears missed out on.
Beyond that, I found that in Melody mode, you can lock the key at which all the music plays so that you'll never wind up pasting in anything that doesn't sound good. This is a godsend for tone-deaf people like myself who couldn't tell C sharp from A minor even if you held a gun to my head. So while Beaterator might not be something I'd want to buy for myself (I like games, not making music). But I think music teachers across the country would kill to get this program into their students' hands.
Look for it September 29.