Sawbuck Gamer


Now Dot’s What I Call Music

Hindsight is 20/20 with a 4/4 time signature.

By Steve Heisler • November 8, 2012

I’m fascinated with looping machines and the geniuses who operate them. Look at a musician like Andrew Bird or a musician/comedian like Reggie Watts: They build songs by themselves, one piece at a time. They sing, play, or whistle a melody into the microphone, step on the looping pedal when it’s done, add something complementary, press the pedal again, and so on. They can do this as many times as they’d like, and if the timing or pitch is off even a little bit for one of the layers, the entire musical composition has to be scrapped. Intellectual precision pays off with symphonies of sound that pierce at a purely emotional level.

Hindsight operates under the same guidelines. A hybrid of the simple game Helicopter and the even-simpler Pong, you are a blue box navigating through a simple maze of red blotches. This continues for one musical stanza, heard in the background as a simple chipset score. Then you hit the opposite wall and bounce back in the other direction, this time navigating not only the original maze, but the blotches you left in your wake. Another rhythm gets added to the background music, maybe a simple beat. The process continues back and forth, back and forth, each time layering the music and the game, occasionally letting a wall of blotches disappear into the ether.

Music is the guidepost, but chance is king. As you venture forward, there’s less logic as to which lines disappear and which stick around. Sometimes you don’t leave a wake at all, and sometimes large red walls get in your way. Your ability to improvise is your only saving grace. Perhaps I’ve never seen Andrew Bird or Reggie Watts mess up those looping machines because, when composing, there’s no such thing as a mistake. Only a new opportunity, a new direction.

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89 Responses to “Now Dot’s What I Call Music”

  1. Colonel says:

    I feel bad no one has commented on this at all.  I liked the concept of the game and the gradual additions to the backing track but this game is kicking my ass.  I got to the part where you can shoot at the red stuff but then three red bars came racing towards me and I died.

    • nattyish says:

      That was as far as I got too. Seems like an instant kill screen? I dunno. Doesn’t exactly provide a lot of information.