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iPhone  header logo

Radio Flare REDUX

For: iPhone

Same station, new tunes

Product: Radio Flare REDUX | Developer: Studio Radiolaris | Publisher: Chillingo | Format: iPhone | Genre: Music/ Rhythm, Shooter | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: US | App version: 1.0
Radio Flare REDUX iPhone, thumbnail 1
When a radio station starts to wane in popularity it gives deejays the boot, brings in a new crew, and mixes up the music. Fresh faces and different tunes renew appeal frittered away by the old shock jocks.

Yet, it's really just a remix of the same formula. When it comes down to the fundamental structure it's a continuation, not a true break, and that's precisely where Radio Flare REDUX – follow-up to Radio Flare – finds itself.

There's great music and dazzling visuals to make you want to tune in, but its core gameplay remains untouched. This stylish sequel struggles to make music relevant to its action, even if it is a more carefully designed experience.

Funky frontier

Travelling to 33 planets in a miniature ship, your mission is to eliminate enemies while grooving to the music. Moving your vessel is done by sliding a finger on the screen, while gesturing over enemies with a second finger targets them. Once locked on, lifting your digit nails them with a blast from your ship.

Yellow point pick-ups beef up your multiplier and overall score, as well as fill a five-star meter. This is your rating for the level. Skillful combos fills it up and untimely deaths reduce it. Each time you're hit by any enemy, a star is crossed out and your maximum rating reduced.

Connecting personally to the music isn't difficult at all in Radio Flare REDUX because it's damn good. House dominates the set list, though there's some techno and chilled out electronica going on, too. There's absolutely no question the soundtrack obliterates the first game.

Phenomenal visual effects boost the emotive power of the music. A thumping black screen gives way to vibrant splashes of colour all to the beat of the music, each level specifically designed to reflect not just the rhythm of the particular track, but also communicate its vibe. Some levels are chill, while others go deep.

It's clear that Studio Radiolaris has both a love and thorough understanding of good music.

The underlying beat

Still, this appreciation doesn't manifest into a meaningful connection between music and gameplay. Pulsating enemies, flashing backdrops and targeting tones give the illusion of such a connection, yet the actual act of shooting foes doesn't affect the music.

To be fair, conceiving of such gameplay is tough and Radio Flare REDUX deserves recognition for striving to create intimacy between action and sound.

I just never found myself keeping rhythm as a way of staying alert for the action. The tempo provides clues as to the speed at which enemies move and their numbers, but it only relays information and doesn't influence how you interact with the game. In some cases, there are big breaks in the action to accommodate the music, which actually deadens gameplay rather than energises it.

String (instrument) theory

This single issue overrides a wealth of carefully considered improvements and welcome changes. Revised controls provide more flexibility, even if there's a risk of your fingers getting twisted occasionally. Targeting is now unlimited, so you can lock onto as many enemies as you like, which opens up huge point possibilities since you can raise your multiplier to ridiculous heights. Dozens of levels address the call for a longer game and the new star rating system is extremely clever.

One feature that I did not like are random power-ups – a screen-clearing bomb, instant-fire shots, and a screenshot camera – that are poorly integrated. They mostly appear when you're cleared enemies away, which defeats the purpose.

While the sense that more could be done to incite a relationship between action and music cannot be overlooked, Radio Flare REDUX is fine-tuned in every other regard that the above oversight is insignificant.
Radio Flare REDUX
Reviewer photo
Tracy Erickson | 5 March 2010
Radio Flare REDUX comes close to generating a connection between music and gameplay, though its entertaining action pulsates more with style than sound
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