I feel like the last few games I've reviewed have skirted the line between being a game in the functional definition and being just an interactive experience. Cosmic DJ [$1.99] by GL33k and Devolver Digital is perhaps is more accurately described as a gamified music synthesizer than an actual game per se, it passes the sniff test just enough that it's worth talking about here. Actual musicians might find the basicness of composition rather lacking, and people who enjoy playing games to completion might find the lack of resistance toward achieving their goals dissatisfying. But non-musicians who want a clever way to compose music with only minimal musical knowledge, or want to enjoy the goofy-yet-earnest story here, will want to check this out.

Cosmic DJ 2

The heart of the game is about creating sequenced music using different instrument synthesizers. The synthesizers have four notes each and the sequencers 32 beats to play notes on, looping endlessly. So, it's not the most advanced musical creation system. But there's also not a huge barrier to entry. The game makes it possible to create notes by just tapping the four giant buttons on screen in time to the position on the sequencer. This makes it possible to tap out a particular beat or to play around with the music. But it's also possible to edit the notes and just sequence things out manually instead of trying to time everything, which is perfect for the rhythm-lacking like myself. Tracks have up to five instruments, and then it's possible to export tracks to Soundcloud, or through iTunes' app file sharing.

The game has a story mode, where there's a wacky situation involving a villain destroying jamtennas and it being up to you to restore harmony to the universe using THE POWER OF MUSIC. Ever reassembled a space corgi? Apparently it can only be done through the power of music. These levels are passed by filling up a music meter with the various instruments. And this is where the "game-or-not" question comes into play. Technically, there's an objective to complete. But it can be completed just as well by mashing the synth buttons to fill up the meter, rather than creating pleasant-sounding music. So, there's really only the very modicum of resistance to success.

Cosmic DJ 1

But overcoming adversity is not the reason to play Cosmic DJ. The story's six scenarios are all amusing and somewhat endearing, as the narrator carries a sort of stern exuberance throughout the proceedings, a knowledge that everything is goofy while playing everything completely straight. Friendship can be rekindled through the power of music and rollerskating, yes. Getting to experience that is reason enough to play Cosmic DJ. Plus, the game does a great job at remixing the multiple tracks created in each story scenario into one coherent track. There's still apparent moments of obvious dissonance thanks to my lack of rhythm or knowledge of music composition, but I like that I can make something that sounds okay! I'd love for the quick play mode to support custom instrument loadouts rather than the random bunches it keeps giving, but, oh well. It's probably better that I don't get to choose because my untrained ear would choose poorly.

Cosmic DJ 3

There's not much to Cosmic DJ, as its five scenarios can be beaten in short order if so desired. But that's really not the point of the game, it's to make some rad music, enjoy the story and its outlandish visuals, and to have a good time doing so. If that sounds appealing, play Cosmic DJ. Those who play games for the challenge and to have some resistance to progression, look elsewhere.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • rewind

    "the power of music in your hands" -- that sounds like something that could've come straight from Apple. Lol. 😉

    • Tony Teulan

      Follow that with a remark about playing the flute and a 'Giggity' and it'll be perfect for Family Guy 😛

  • copaeci

    I think I missed this one... Saw this on steam, and will put this into my wishlist.. Ah what an expensive week

  • Papa Deuce

    I would be horrible with this, but it does look cool.

Cosmic DJ Reviewed by Carter Dotson on . Rating: 3.5