So what's Beats then?

PSP Store game hands-on.

The Sony PSP Store for the PC launched last night with a downloadable line-up headed up by a PSP version of PS3 titles Go! Puzzle and Go! Sudoku, downloadable versions of UMD games B-Boy and Fired up, and something else - a rhythm-action game called Beats. We had a quick play to see what it's like.

Once you go through the PSP Store download process (which involves logging in with your PSN account, making the purchase and then using a special PSN download manager program to transfer the game directly to your Memory Stick), and select it from the Game menu on the XMB, you're shown to nice orange title screen which lets you pick between the two main game modes - My Music Challenge and Jamming - or other set-up options.

Beats is a fairly straightforward button-matching music game, but the twist is that you can use your own music. When you go into the My Music Challenge, you're invited to pick a song from among any MP3s stored on your Memory Stick, and then select a difficulty level. You're then presented with a fairly simple screen with a trio of circle in the middle. As the music starts to play, little face-button icons (squares, circles, Xs, triangles) move towards these little circles, and it's your job to press them as they move over one.

If they're approaching the centre circle, you just press the corresponding button. However, if they are going towards the left one, you hold left on the d-pad at the same time, and so on for the right-hand circle. Vertical bars on either side of the play area tot up your points multiplier (which increases as you match more beats without missing any out) and collect "overdrive" power as you correctly match special flashing versions of the normal icons.

Naturally the idea is that the icons move across the screen in varying sequences and rhythms that match the tone and tempo of your chosen track, and the effect was pretty reasonable on our first few attempts. There's a slight amount of frame-rate drop as the beat-matching kicks off a minor firework display in the background, but it's not particularly intrusive.

Beats also includes a Jamming mode, where you can create songs using a selection of instrumental loops, and this mode supports up to four players. You can then also your compositions via Game sharing. Other options allow you to change the game's background theme - which incorporates either static or dynamic (so, wobbly) visual elements in addition to signature music - or the visualiser that goes along with the beat-matching. Again, there are quite a few provided with the game.

Anyway, whether it all amounts to GBP 4.99 worth of value over the long haul will be up to one of our reviewers to decide in due course, but for now that's Beats - an interesting little rhythm game and the sort of little project it's always nice to see Sony doodling around the margins. Works quite well with Modest Mouse and Arcade Fire, or you could just listen to your CDs and drum your fingers on the desk. You decide.

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