Title: Chiptune Champion
Developer: Blake Garner
Release Date: January 8th, 2016
REVIEW: CHIPTUNE CHAMPION
Chiptune Champion is a rhythm game developed by Blake Garner and published on Steam.
Transform your keyboard into an instrument and play along to the melody of catchy chiptunes in this challenging rhythm game.
- Two game modes – strum and tap
- Three difficulty levels from rookie to expert
- Weekly and all-time leaderboards
- 40 official songs to choose from
- Track your own custom songs
- Share them with the community via the steam workshop
- Earn steam achievements
- Customise your keys
Chiptune Champion is a challenging rhythm game with an interesting control concept and the ability to create and add your own Chiptune songs.
Chiptune Champion is set up to be played using your keyboard. Actually, let me be more specific. It is set up for you to play while holding your keyboard like it’s a guitar. This is actually kind of fun when you are playing with friends. Each person takes a turn hugging a keyboard to their chest like a childhood teddy, and then they frantically mash buttons to chiptunes while their friends laugh at their flailing failure. If that doesn’t sound appealing to you then I suggest liberally applying alcohol to the situation. On the other hand, if you are playing alone and actually care about performing well, the standard key bindings feel slightly less than organic. I have not been able to find a way to hold my keyboard that is comfortable for long-term play and that allows me to hit all of the keys easily. Thankfully, you can remap the key bindings to almost any arrangement you want provided that each button is remapped to a separate, non-overlapping key. To be honest, I am yet to find any sort of keyboard set-up that feels comfortable to me, and I recommend using a Guitar Hero controller if available.
The game provides a non-playable tutorial to help walk you through the two modes: Strum and Tap. Strum Mode includes two different note types: strum and tap. Strum keys are solid colors that correspond with the different notes. Strum requires for the player to press and hold the note keys (1-5) as they fall and then hit the Strum key (Enter) as they pass over the boxes at the bottom of the screen. Tap keys are represented by colored notes with a white dot in the center. These do not have to be strummed and can be played by simply tapping the keys as they pass over the bottom boxes. Tap Mode only includes tap keys, and is therefore a more simplified version of the game. Simply tap the correct note keys as they pass through the boxes at the bottom of the screen.
Once a mode is selected, players can choose one of three difficulties: Rookie, Medium, and Expert.
- Rookie – In this difficulty, players mainly focus on the first 4 note.
- Medium – At this difficulty, a fifth note key is added and more notes are added to each song.
- Expert – No additional note keys are added, but even more notes are added to each song.
Because there is no playable tutorial, players are thrust directly into the game, creating a bit of a trial by fire. I have played Guitar Hero, and I enjoy rhythm games, but I found even Rookie Tap Mode to be overwhelming for the first handful of songs. Eventually, I just picked a song and started working on adjusting to the key bindings. I always try to play the game in its default settings before I change anything around because I think it is important for a game to be playable “out of the box” without any sort of player intervention. I eventually, however, ended up remapping my keys to something more comfortable and got to jamming.
Players who score high enough can get featured on one of the leaderboards, weekly or all time. Only your highest score on a song counts, so no worries about a single person holding multiple spots on the leader board like in an old style arcade game.
The game also features the Track Editor which allows players to create their very own chiptunes songs and share them on the Steam Workshop. The tutorial for the game links over to YouTube. When asked, developer Blake Garner explained that the tutorial was so long that he found video to be a more appropriate medium than a giant wall of text. I’m inclined to agree with him, as the tutorial is 9 minutes and 20 seconds long. That being said, the tutorial video is clear and easy to follow. Everything is explained very well, allowing you to start making music in a matter of minutes.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the menu includes the ability to offset the notes from the music in order to compensate for the latency of any given machine. This was a fantastic touch by the developer that really helps equalize the game for all players regardless of equipment.
GRAPHICS AND SOUND
The graphics are simple but fun. They fit the game perfectly and work wonderfully with the 40+ songs in game. Despite all of the songs being chiptunes, there is a surprising amount of range to the music included in the game. Some songs are very poppy and catchy, while others seem like they fell straight out of Castlevania. This does a great job of preventing the game from becoming stale or the songs from becoming annoying over time.
**EDIT 2/13: It is worth noting the Chiptune Champion lacks a true full screen mode**
Pretty much every response I have heard from those just thrown into the game is that even Rookie difficulty feels like it is too fast with too much getting thrown at you at once. Another “Practice” difficulty with maybe only three note keys to focus on would benefit those struggling with the game until they could adjust to the playstyle and progress to Rookie. That being said, like with any rhythm game, the more you play through a song the slower it feels. What may seem lightning fast to one may seem a snail’s pace to another. It is all about perspective. Overall, this is a really fun rhythm game with cheerful graphics and fun chiptunes that are guaranteed to trigger your nostalgia. With over 40 songs and latency adjustments to fit your device, this game is already a pretty good buy at $9.99, but the Track Editor is by far the biggest selling point to this game. The ability to easily create your own song and share it with players on the Steam Workshop is just amazing. I won’t at all be surprised to see this game stick around for a long time just for that aspect alone.
If you are a fan of rhythm games, I definitely recommend checking out Chiptune Champion. It is currently available on Steam for $9.99 and there are nearly 200 fan-made tracks on the Workshop already. Overall, Chiptune Champion scores a 7.7/10.
Other reviews of Chiptune Champion:
Blake Garner provided us with a Steam review key of Chiptune Champion in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected our final review of the game. For more information regarding our review system and ethics policy,click here.