After rocking out with plastic guitars and scratching with DJ Hero's turntable controller, we got our hands on the final version of Maestro! Jump in Music, which provides an interesting twist on the rhythm genre. It combines the simple run-and-jump elements of a platform game with musical accompaniments. The result is an oddly addictive, undeniably cute, and fast-paced adventure that blends the subtle beauty of classic music with vibrant visuals.
You take control of a bird called Presto that is tasked with saving six different planets from eternal silence. In a universe where chirping along to music is as natural as breathing for these feathered inhabitants, being quiet is certainly the most serious of matters. An evil spider named Staccato lurks behind the catastrophe and serves as the main boss for you to eliminate with your rhythmical power. While the setting might be complete nonsense, the story of taking a cute bird across the galaxy to defeat an enormous arachnid is certainly original.
Presto automatically sprints from one side of the screen to the other, and it's your job to control his jumps, falls, and other actions. Each level features a set of musical strings, and strumming them in the correct direction enables Presto to collect objects--all of which fill in absent beats from the current track. Knowing the melody often improves your score because each tune you'll play should be instantly recognisable. Because there's a short window between successful and missed notes, knowing what's coming before it arrives gives you a distinct advantage. If, however, you're as rhythmically gifted as a talent-show reject, then following the visual cue is the way forward. This means that while Maestro! Jump in Music is an entertaining distraction, its repetitive nature may harm its long-term appeal.
The pace of the game is fast so you'll encounter several enchanting worlds and different melodies in a short period of time. We travelled to the haunted castle of Purple Sonata and passed through the depths of Indigo Flow before entering an undersea section that broke up the style of play entirely. While the early stages may have you hastily tiptoeing along to a classic Mozart or Beethoven number, the ocean level creates a sense of solitude and calm that stands out from the rest of the game. It's a vibrant contrast because floating along to the classical works of Erik Satie after jigging manically to Madness's "Our House" manages to keep the game feeling fresh.
While it might sound difficult, Maestro! Jump in Music provides a simple tutorial that prepares you for the levels to come. You're only ever thrown in at the deep end once you meet Staccato, but even then, mastering basic rhythm skills will result in victory. He appears at end of each section in calamitous style, often providing some humour with his ridiculous outfits that match the setting of the world you’re in. Progressing through the game unlocks a number of new moves and commands that need to be learnt, such as additional drums or swirling black holes in space that synthesize the tune, which always keeps you in the thick of the action.
Produced by indie developer Pasta Games, Maestro! Jump in Music is shaping up to be an intelligently crafted and perfectly paced rhythm-based adventure. Once you've gotten to grips with Presto's manic nature, you'll be restoring sounds to the six worlds within no time--and often without missing a beat.