First Look: Vib Ribbon

Latest import seeks to meld the addictive gameplay of Parappa to the graphic simplicity of a chalkboard. Find out what our latest addiction is.


Just to let you know how addictive music games can be, all things Space Channel 5, Dance Dance Revolution, and Guitar Freaks have recently possessed the offices. Just when it seemed things would settle down and we could all get back to work, along comes Vib Ribbon, a truly bizarre import game that pushes the boundaries forward and backward of what defines a video game.

Vib Ribbon was produced by Masaya Matsuura, better known for unleashing Parappa the Rapper and Um Jammer Lammy on the world, and it comes as no surprise that the game is music- and rhythm-based. On viewing the game, you' would be forgiven if you thought that the PlayStation's powers were vastly underrealized for this game, but it's obvious the graphics were done this way as an artistic statement. Looking like nothing more than children's scribbles on a classroom chalkboard, "Vibri," Vib Ribbon's main character, is the outline of a rabbit. He dances along a single line speckled with shapes, waves, and forms. The graphics are merely white outlines against a background, and they shake and shiver the worse you play. Your goal is to press one of the four appropriate buttons on the PlayStation controller at the appropriate times. Later, when the game becomes more difficult, shapes combine, requiring you to execute various two-button presses in time with the shape waves. While this may sound incredibly simple, it's actually very cool. While you start off as the rabbit, for every successive, successful, uninterrupted shape you pass, you'll get a tiny mark next to your character. Each time you pass another shape, provided you didn't screw it up, you'll get another mark. When you complete a full circle of marks, you'll transform into a winged prince, which will get you more points. The faster you perform moves between (we like to call it "freestyling") each shape, the more points you accumulate.

Another outstanding aspect of the game is the music tracks, which, while short, are very unique and catchy. We've already ripped the songs (sung by Yoko Fujita and written by Laugh & Peace) to our MP3 players and have provided the first track here for your perusal. If you get tired of listening to the same songs over and over again, Vib Ribbon lets you put in your own CD's and create puzzles from the songs on your CD. You can play single tracks or put the whole CD through its paces. Sony of America has no information on whether it plans to bring Vib Ribbon to the United States, but it would make a great addition to the standard CD-player mode - much in the way Sony has added its Baby Universe software toits newer versions of its CD players. Look for the full import review soon.

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