Sunday, August 06, 2006

Frets on Fire: Thrash Your Keyboard

I was checking out the last few news posts over at MobyGames, and ran across a link to Unreal Voodoo's Frets on Fire game. You've seen those DDR-style Flash games on various websites (like Flash Flash Revolution)? Well, FoF takes the concept one step further.

To start with, you have five notes or frets to worry about (by default, the F1-F5 keys), as well as your pick (the Enter key). You can hold down the frets as long as you want, but when the scrolling note indicators hit the bottom of the screen, you have to hit the pick at the right time -- otherwise you get some nice distorted slop instead of the proper note. The tutorial even recommends picking up your keyboard from the desk and holding it as a guitar, with your left hand wrapping around the upper edge to hit the fret keys, and your right had free to hit the pick. In practice, I found it just as easy to leave it lying on the desk, and with different keyboard sizes and shapes on the market, everybody will have to play around a bit to find the most comforatble position.

As for the tutorial, it's not as clear as it could be. It took me a couple of run-throughs to figure out just what was intended. For instance, holding down the frets is explained, but using the pick is never mentioned. After getting 0% a couple of times, I finally got the idea, but a bit more explanation in the tutorial would be nice.

The overall gameplay is great -- the graphics are simple and uncluttered, the controls are easy to pick up, and the difficulty for each song can be adjusted. More variety in songs would be nice, as FoF in its current form only offers three. There is a song editor utility included, but I would like to see more songs from the developers available for download, and possibly a genre-based sorting system within the game.

Overall, though, it's a great idea combined with great execution, and I'm very interested to see if development continues.

Oh yeah, and it's free. That never hurts.

[edit] You should be able to find some extra downloadable songs over at http://frets.freenerd.org/. [/edit]

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