iPhone hit “Groove Coaster” gives a new perspective to rhythm game design

iPhone hit “Groove Coaster” gives a new perspective to rhythm game design (photo)

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As a category, music games are in a weird place right now. The glory days of the first “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band 2”-and the plastic instruments they ushered into homes worldwide-are long gone. Activision shuttered the division that made “Guitar Hero” and MTV unceremoniously sold off Harmonix, the developer who created “Rock Band.” The Boston-based developer’s still thriving with “Dance Central,” but that game’s a far sight from the performance karaoke that let you stand in for the most famous rockers of all time.

But, the rhythm game genre may have life in it yet and the best proof of that is Taito’s new iOS release “Groove Coaster.” If you’ve played practically any music game since the inception of the genre, you’ll pick up on “Groove Coaster” right away. As the 17 J-pop tracks that come with the game play, symbols speed down a line running across the screen. Tapping anywhere on the screen in time with symbols will sync up parts of the song and bring them up in the audio mix.

What sets the title apart is its use of shifting camera angles to make the player constantly have to re-orient themselves. The name “Groove Coaster” riffs on “roller coaster” and the game does make you feel as if you’re in the front seat of the front car of a loop-de-loop extravanganza. Tracks will spiral in on themselves, zig-zag jerkily and make you feverishly tap at the screen during certain moments. The title’s head developer Reisuke Ishida last worked on “Space Invaders: Infinity Gene,” an iPhone game that similarly reworked the experience of the arcade classic with new ideas.

“Groove Coaster” channels the sensation of listening to new music. The not-knowing where a track’s going to go next, the latching-on to a part of a song you know you’re going to love, they’re both in “Groove Coaster.” It’s impressive that the game’s able to codify those perceptual and physical reaction of pop-music endorphin release into gameplay. That buzzy energy gets helped along by great visuals drawn out in neion-colored vector graphics that heavily recall “Rez.” You can totally feel the synaesthetic hallmarks of Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s masterpiece in “Groove Coaster,” with how tightly allied the graphical shifts are to the musical changes. But the iDevice title does enough make itself feel like its own unique experience and not a knock-off of anything that’s come before.

The signature moment of “Groove Coaster” comes at the end of a level, when the camera pull back to a wide shot that reveals the twists and turns you traveled along while tapping through a particular song. It’s almost like the photos you can buy of yourself after an amusement park ride, where you look back in wonder at what you experienced.

If you’ve played “Groove Coaster,” what do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter.


The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”


Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).



Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.


And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.


Get Physical

DVDs are the new Vinyl

Portlandia Season 7 Now Available On Disc.

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GIFs via Giffy

In this crazy digital age, sometimes all we really want is to reach out and touch something. Maybe that’s why so many of us are still gung-ho about owning stuff on DVD. It’s tangible. It’s real. It’s tech from a bygone era that still feels relevant, yet also kitschy and retro. It’s basically vinyl for people born after 1990.


Inevitably we all have that friend whose love of the disc is so absolutely repellent that he makes the technology less appealing. “The resolution, man. The colors. You can’t get latitude like that on a download.” Go to hell, Tim.

Yes, Tim sucks, and you don’t want to be like Tim, but maybe he’s onto something and DVD is still the future. Here are some benefits that go beyond touch.

It’s Decor and Decorum

With DVDs and a handsome bookshelf you can show off your great taste in film and television without showing off your search history. Good for first dates, dinner parties, family reunions, etc.


Forget Public Wifi

Warm up that optical drive. No more awkwardly streaming episodes on shady free wifi!



Internet service goes down. It happens all the time. It could happen right now. Then what? Without a DVD on hand you’ll be forced to make eye contact with your friends and family. Or worse – conversation.


Self Defense

You can’t throw a download like a ninja star. Think about it.


If you’d like to experience the benefits DVD ownership yourself, Portlandia Season 7 is now available on DVD and Blue-Ray.



Stan Diego Comic-Con

Stan Against Evil returns November 1st.

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Photo Credit: Erin Resnick, GIFs via Giphy

Another Comic-Con International is in the can, and multiple nerdgasms were had by all – not least of which were about the Stan Against Evil roundtable discussion. Dana, Janet and John dropped a whole lotta information on what’s to come in Season 2 and what it’s like to get covered in buckets of demon goo. Here are the highlights.

Premiere Date!

Season 2 hits the air November 1 and picks up right where things left off. Consider this your chance to seamlessly continue your Halloween binge.

Character Deets!

Most people know that Evie was written especially for Janet, but did you know that Stan is based on Dana Gould’s dad? It’s true. But that’s where the homage ends, because McGinley was taken off the leash to really build a unique character.

Happy Accidents!

Improv is apparently everything, because according to Gould the funniest material happens on the fly. We bet the writers are totally cool with it.

Exposed Roots!

If Stan fans are also into Twin Peaks and Doctor Who, that’s no accident. Both of those cult classic genre benders were front of mind when Stan was being developed.

Trailer Treasure!

Yep. A new trailer dropped. Feast your eyes.

Catch up on Stan Against Evil’s first season on the IFC app before it returns November 1st on IFC.