There’s been such an influx of new music games on iOS that it’s easy to overlook when a great one is slapping you right in the face. Before I played Tone Sphere, I had thought this would be something like Pulse or Groove Coaster with fancy graphics, but I was colored surprised. I soon discovered the gameplay felt familiar (which isn’t a bad thing), and those graphics weren’t only for show.
In short, if you love music games, you shouldn’t be passing this game up.
Right off the bat, you’ll notice the game provides quite the eye candy. There were plenty of beautifully-rendered 3D elements woven into the background that truly show off the system’s power. Since I was reviewing this game on The New iPad, the retina display put the visuals over the edge. These beautiful backgrounds play more of a role than just looking pretty; while there are notes appearing on-screen, the game will twist and turn, shuffling the position of the notes and forcing you to adapt to the continuously-changing chart.
There are four different note types available. A pink note requires you to regularly tap in time with the music, a hold note makes you hold the marker down until the note vanishes, a black note asks you to slide in a certain direction and a silver note adds an extra 10 to your current max combo.
For anyone familiar with music games, this game plays a lot like Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan/Elite Beat Agents, but without numbers to help you visually. The circular timing marker will close in on the note, and you will have to hit it in time with the music. The game’s timing is on-point and well synced, and with the Leaderboard system in-place, you can fight for a top ranking in songs against thousands of other players around the world long after you’ve perfected the song.
There’s currently only two difficulty levels in-game. Even on Normal charts, I still found myself being constantly challenged and found that the Hard difficulty lives up to its name. For a game at this price point, having 40 songs available to choose from is quite the feat. With genres ranging from J-pop and happy hardcore to rock and trance, a few there’s definitely something in here that will click for those new to music games.
The biggest problem with the music list boils down to how familiar you are with the artists. This game is filled with plenty of Japanese doujin (independent) artists. While I’m familiar with the works of cranky and hapinano, it might be a turn off to some people if they buy a game with artists they don’t know. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but familiarity helps draw people into purchasing your product.
But aside from the musical qualms, there aren’t many other complaints I have about this game. From the beautifully-composed music to the gorgeous rendered backgrounds and challenging gameplay, there’s something here for every iOS player who likes to play a good music game.
Pros: Great selection of music, visually appealing, familiar and challenging gameplay, amazing price
Cons: The selection of music might be its downfall due to the lack of familiarity.