Version tested: iPad
In an age where great iOS games seem to come out every week, you always need that little bit extra to stand out. Wave Trip is unusual enough, a 2D left-to-right flying game where the level's elements are also the sounds. But as well as its own layouts, called songs, Wave Trip offers a brilliant interface for building your own and brings in other user-generated content seamlessly.
Each song is built out of blue, orange and pinky-purple shapes - the first two are good and the last is bad. Blue elements tick up your score multiplier one-for-one, whereas the orange ones are what actually scores - as well as releasing a friend of your weird avatar from captivity. Despite Wave Trip's overwhelming focus on musical gameplay, just as much care has gone into the art style; you control a flying pyramid-head, with a large eye straight from Patapon, who's flanked by tiny suns and bobs up and down on the left. On the right, various imprisoned buddies float around in bubbles.
The enemy blocks come in types; most are stationary, some move to attack or follow patterns. You can create a shield to temporarily blast through them, but it's on a tight recharge timing, so most of the time Wave Trip is about rising and falling - with style. You use a single touch to make pyramid-head rise up, and release to fall down; simplicity itself, but with a real subtlety when it comes to being exact.
You can always tell when you're controlling things well, because Wave Trip starts to sound great. Your movements start bringing continued emphasis to the tune, bringing out more as your sweeps and troughs get sharper and start scoring higher. It's a deliciously smooth experience at first, but it can be dialled up to hellish levels. Wave Trip is unforgiving in its score multiplier, so taking a single hit will put paid to any leaderboard ambitions - and it could be argued that some later of its later levels lose sight of the sound in favour of the challenge.
That said, where you really see how well Wave Trip's elements fit together is in its level editor, which is probably the simplest I've used. You build the level in smaller sections, selecting a BPM then placing the pieces as a waveform glides over to let you know how it all sounds. In minutes, your first level's done, without a single hassle, and posted up.
Checking out what others have made is even easier, with lists and the levels themselves loading instantly. This is what really shows off Wave Trip's potential; already you'll find everything from graceful ballads with great long arcs to staccato death-gauntlets. A 'like' system seems to be filtering good and different stuff to the top, I've only played one stinker, and it's all so easy.
Wave Trip is a cool game in its own right, but such a well-engineered approach to community creativity gives it real life. It also shows that developer Lukcy Frame wants Wave Trip to be a plaything as much as a game and values sharing enough to make it central to the design. It's a musical game that makes you feel like applauding.
8 / 10