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Music Catch

Score: 80%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Reflexive
Developer: Reflexive Entertainment
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Family/ Puzzle/ Miscellaneous

Graphics & Sound:

Music Catch is that rare invention that feels so inevitable and intuitive that you suspect it must be derivative. There have been loads of music games, from the cutest of cute (think Parappa the Rapper) to the coolest of cool (think Rock Band or the like) and everything in between. Music Catch fills a different niche entirely. It looks visually like a bit of a throwback. Reminiscent of vector graphics from days past, there isn't a hint of excess flash or gloss in the graphical interface. The game is the interface, really. As you start up a session, you'll get some basic instructions and then you'll see a floating line spewing shapes. You have a visual cursor, the line, and shapes. That's it... Simple bliss.

Commenting on the music in Music Catch is like commenting on the artistic quality of Photoshop documents. What you put in is what you get out, in both cases. Loading music into the game is what creates the content of Music Catch from a sonic perspective. You can play the game according to any MP3 file you load from your library. There are songs created and stored within the game that are fun tunes, well-constructed and challenging to play against. The widest horizons of Music Catch open when you fire up a song file of your own. The personalization is what makes the game really interesting and fun.


Describing the interface kind of blows any surprises in the way that Music Catch plays. The moving line, spewing shapes that you collect, your music playing in the background... The subtleties of the game are what make it worth playing. Playing MP3 files isn't a new thing, when we consider playing your own music as a backdrop to a game. The difference here is that your music becomes the game. The shapes that spew from the moving line are timed to beats and inflections of the song. Think of the cool visualizations you've seen on iTunes or even a relatively upscale car stereo. Imagine if that pulsing were tied to little projectiles. Now imagine your job being to collect as many of those projectiles as possible. You are now thinking about Music Catch... ;)

As you collect a greater percentage of shapes, you'll be recognized with medals and a high-score ranking. Score well on the tune that comes loaded on Music Catch and you'll open up other songs. The reward system for the files you load into the game isn't more than recognition, which somewhat flattens the enthusiasm curve, but doesn't limit the replay potential. The finer points of playing over time are to collect shapes and pay more attention to special pick-ups. Red objects are to be avoided, while yellow and purple offer additional benefits. Yellow increases the size of your cursor, making it easier to quickly pick up more objects. Purple turns your cursor into a vacuum for objects, scoring you big points. All the red does is shrink your cursor down, which limits your ability to score points. There isn't any form of multiplayer or any overriding point to playing Music Catch beyond opening up the locked songs. This limits the replay value other than for casual gaming. It's a sure bet that this would make a great game for download on consoles and be a super-smash hit if it included a multiplayer splitscreen option.


The mark of a casual game is upon it. Nothing better than a few rounds of Music Catch to kill time between downloads or while waiting for coffee to brew. It is well suited to any listening taste, so if Black Sabbath is your idea of a relaxing moment with a cup of tea, Music Catch will help you get there. It is fascinating to load up different styles of music and see the difference between the output. It would be a stretch to say that the game becomes easier or more difficult according to what type of music is loaded, but there seem to be some trends. Following the analogy used earlier about an interactive visual equalizer (an equalizer is essentially what we think of when we adjust treble, bass, and mid-range frequencies on a radio or other device), music that is very "flat" or leaning strongly toward one side of the treble/bass spectrum will definitely produce different output. Complex music, rich in treble, bass, and mid-range sounds, will produce a more challenging session of Music Catch than a recording of a solo instrument or voice. The exception to a solo instrument would be something like Classical piano music that goes across a very wide spectrum. It isn't as much about challenge as it is relaxation, so Music Catch tends to flatten the difficulty curve quite a bit.

Game Mechanics:

Playing Music Catch requires nothing more complicated than being able to move a mouse. A trackball, if you have one, would be a brilliant investment for a dedicated Music Catch player. You'll move the mouse around a lot to try and catch as many objects as possible. The speed of the cursor isn't dictated by the speed you usually have with your mouse on the desktop, and can't be changed. There aren't many customizations possible at all within Music Catch, other than running full-screen or in windowed mode. There are a variety of shape combinations that can appear when you play, but no option to select which shapes you'd like to see flowing from the moving line. This would be even more fun with the option to customize aspects of the game such as background graphics, shape properties, and even the shape of the cursor. Most users won't feel like anything is missing, but those of us constantly immersed in games tend to see a good game and immediately think about what would make it even better. Possibly we're just greedy?

The casual gamer will find a unique experience in Music Catch. It's not like anything else. There are many ways this could be a platform for deeper gameplay that would move Music Catch out of the casual genre entirely. The best thing that wouldn't be hard to include is playlists. Only being able to select a few tracks that can be replayed from the game's menu is okay if you only have a small library of MP3 files, but who has less than a few thousand songs sitting around these days? It's understandable that not everything can be loaded into the game on the first pass, but some kind of favoriting and playlist functionality is definitely a must in the future. Grab a demo and try not to get hooked on Music Catch.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

Minimum System Requirements:

Mac OS X 10.4+

Test System:

iMac G5, OS X 10.4

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