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My Experience with Music-Based Mobile Games

Like most boys who grew up in a modern household, mobile games have been a part of my life since a very young age. When I was younger playing these games would become part of my daily routine; I would get excited when I could hope on Clash of Clans or Hay Day to collect my resources and upgrade my village.

But my life as a ‘mobile gamer’ radically changed on one road trip.

As I was searching the app store for a game to play I came across one I had never heard of before: Dancing Line. This game's concept was simple: music played through your phone while you tapped the screen to the beat, guiding a cube through a remarkably visually appealing obstacle course. I noticed that a Dancing Line level, unique to other two-directional course games, had a direct link with the song it played- straying away from pop music that could be associated with anything. Instead, it played beautiful music; music I had never heard of which told a story throughout its level. Although the player didn’t do much- simply clicking the screen- the app was able to engage the player in such a way that some clicks felt like a light playful tap whereas others were made up of an enthralling thumb shove. This type of engagement was made possible solely because of the music of the game, something few other apps can recreate.

Now I might just be a little bit of a music nerd, but I’ve found this type of musical engagement to be much more enthralling than the usual background music of a game. But not every music-based mobile app is as good as Dancing Line. Piano Tiles, for example, includes both music and rhythm but falls short in a few ways to exceptional. First, it has almost no environment changes within levels. Piano Tiles stays almost entirely on the same screen with a moving keyboard whereas Dancing Line includes a dynamic background that shifts as the music does. For a Sahara-themed orchestra piece, Dancing Line would show a desert with moving pyramids while Piano Tiles would have a sand-colored background. Piano Tiles also fell victim to including copious mounts of popular music. This probably worked to attract people who wouldn't normally play the game but gets tiring to listen to very quickly. But Piano Tiles isn't just a game, it’s a category. There’s a list of games that function the same way as Piano Tiles and I’m sure they attract a lot of people but I’m here to tell you that they’re just not worth playing. Maybe it's a vendetta but these cheap ad-filled games get boring and annoying to play after just a few mindless taps.

BUT there is one game that used this more simple format correctly, and that's the super popular game Geometry Dash. Geometry Dash uses simple shapes scrolling left to right, and although the taping mechanism is harder given the various features that can be added such as a change in direction of gravity, the background of most levels is pretty simple. So how is it better than piano tiles? The music. Similar to Dancing Line, the music in Geometry Dash is beautiful in a way that is unique to that game and any specific level. This makes Geometry Dash extremely successful.

Unfortunately, it seems that games like this have become less popular or have simply fallen into the pay-to-play trap that has become so many mobile games. But I hope that you still have an interest in these games no matter your age and maybe even consider downloading one, a decision that I thoroughly enjoyed making on that car ride so many years ago.

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