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Old School Musical Review

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On 10/22/2018 at 11:15 AM by Casey Curran

If Seltzer and Friedberg made a game.

If you really love the idea of seeing retro games spoofed, playing it on easy might be an enjoyable enough romp. You have to have a very forgiving sense of humor, however

For all the retro-inspired indie titles out there, the genre seems mostly earnest, even deferent. There may be a small jab, such as Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon regulating the whip to a sub weapon, yet these are smaller details as opposed to poking fun at the original retro titles. Granted, the goofy nature of many retro games renders parody harder to accomplish, as even Shovel Knight feels like it could have once been an earnestly made game from the '80s or '90s. Enter Old School Musical, a rhythm game which pokes fun at an entire smorgasbord of games.

The game consists of two box shaped pure white characters venturing through a series of different worlds, each based on a classic game such as Mega Man or Metal Gear. Whenever they enter one of these levels, they wear costumes resembling the game’s characters. It’s great visual gags, as they look hilariously out of place while still working in the games’ worlds. Similarly, the music does not rip off any of these older games, but all sound like a track you would expect to hear while playing through them. The developers clearly love these old games and have a strong understanding of what made them work.

Unfortunately that’s where the praise ends. While the game looks the part, the jokes really do not land. For instance, the Metal Gear level has one of the two characters dressed in The Quiet’s skimpy outfit despite his asexual design. It was a great gag. But when the other character points it out and he enthusiastically says “The costume chose me,” I had to pause just to get over my annoyance. And that’s how all the good jokes usually land, extended to a joke that ruins what once made me chuckle.

The game’s jokes all land to this degree. It made it harder to enjoy the excellent visual humor, when the gameplay was constantly interrupted with painfully unfunny jokes. And at a certain point there’s a Last of Us level. The visual humor doesn’t work since it looks nothing like the PS3 game, it had the one good element fall apart due to a lack of cohesion. It felt like I was playing a game made by Seltzer and Friedberg.

This could have been saved by the game’s arcade mode which eschews the story in favor of getting a high score, but there’s two issues there. To unlock a level in arcade mode, it must be played in the story mode first, so fun visual humor won’t have the same punch and the annoying jokes are still a requirement. Yet even worse is that the gameplay does not lend itself to an arcade mode.

This is as basic as rhythm games are, basically Dance Dance Revolution without the foot pad or Guitar Hero without the plastic instrument. Most of the time, one of the face buttons will be pressed, sometimes held in beat with the songs. If the game’s really daring it will have you press the shoulder buttons instead their own dedicated segments. Since there’s mostly just four buttons being pushed, sometimes only two, it feels bland. The face button segments don’t even require you to press two buttons at the same time, I can’t imagine how they would have made the game feel more basic.

Even worse, however, is that the controls often stop working. There would be segments where I knew I was pressing the button at the right time, yet failed on the game. At first I thought I may not be doing as well as I thought, only for the game to stop recognizing I was pressing down on a button. So I checked to see if it was my computer or controller, but I played a portion of Super Meat Boy and Cuphead without a hitch. The controls are broken, plain and simple.

I love the idea behind Old School Musical and really wanted to like this game. Yet between the bland mechanics, broken controls, and far too many intrusive jokes not landing, I had a hard time enjoying myself. It looks and sounds just about perfect, yet sadly is a very shallow experience.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



Nick DiMola Director

10/22/2018 at 05:13 PM

Damn shame this didn't turn out well. Looked pretty neat and I had high hopes for it.

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