Music steals time. Think about it: whether you’re making it or listening to it, you’re devoting ticks of the watch (mental energy away from some other pursuit.) But, what you get back, hopefully, is enjoyment. Beat Sneak Bandit
Like developer Simogo’s last iOS outing Bumpy Road, BSB‘s cute. But it’s far more clever. You play as the titular character who’s trying to steal back all the stolen clocks from the city of Pulsebury from the mansion of evil Duke Clockface. The Bandit makes his way into the mansion where you’ll need to make him walk He can only amble on the beat, though, and can only turn when facing a wall. Add in sliding platforms, blinking spotlights and patrolling guards and paying attention to the music enough to keep hold of the beat gets much harder.
The goal of each board is to collect the big clocks secreted away in the mansion and you’ll need to pocket smaller timepieces to unlock special bonus rooms in the Shadow Mansion levels.
The difficulty comes in two tiers in BSB. Firstly, you’ll need to get into the habit of the controls, which might be difficult even if you’re used to similar titles like Elite Beat Agents or Parappa the Rappa. Your own twitchiness and sense of rhythm might help or hinder your acclimation.
However, BSB demands not only that you listen to the beat but that you figure out how parts of a song — all represented by elements in a level — work together musically. So, the trap doors slide in and out in time with a trill and that trill interpolates between the rhythms of a guard’s turns.
The other twist to difficulty comes from the combination of elements that you’ll face. A guard behind a door underneath a spotlight might force you to double-time your steps, which is incredibly nerve-wracking.
Each level’s a rhythmic puzzle and getting a chunk of it wrong means that you won’t be able to reach every clock. BSB forces you to find your own patience, like all good stealth games. In Splinter Cell titles, Rocksteady Studios’ Batman games, Metal Gear Solid and others, the player’s own jumpy reflexes can be their worst enemy.
Difficulty aside, Beat Sneak Bandit finds that perfect intersection of fun and challenge. For every groan of frustration I bellowed while playing, I never didn’t wanted to quit. There’s groove infused into every pixel of BSB. Everything in the background moves in time with the musical tracks. That syncopation winds up reminding me of the classic Looney Tunes cartoons where Bugs Bunny’s every tip-toe footstep got accompanied by murmuring oboe notes. Those Bugs toons wound up being classic and I think Beat Sneak Bandit will steal its way into iOS gamers’ hearts, too.
Beat Sneak Bandit [Simogo]