Mobile Game of the Week: Beat Sneak Bandit (iOS)

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Mobile Game of the Week: Beat Sneak Bandit (iOS)

Beat Sneak Bandit

Platform: iOS
Developer: Simogo
Release Date: 02/16/12
Price: $2.99

Beat Sneak Bandit‘s premise has been refined and simplified to its absolute core. That’s why it’s so satisfying to play. Each level has four floors and you have to collect the clocks that are spread throughout each. The catch? All the environmental puzzles bounce to the beat of the music and you can only move by tapping the screen correctly on beat. Rhythmically-challenged gamers beware.

Speaking of the controls, Beat Sneak Bandit has also refined the scheme down to the simplest thing possible: one tap. Tapping the screen will move the Bandit forward in whatever direction he’s faced. When he gets to a wall, it’s a tap to turn around. When he gets to a staircase, it’s a tap to walk up them. That’s it. The genius part is that you’ll never feel like the game’s been limited by it’s simplicity. Most of the time, you’ll have your attention on the environments, puzzles, and sound, trying to calculate your limited amount of motion.

The puzzles, which include evading police, using teleportation devices, and even stopping time, are all clever and intuitive. There are a couple of harsh difficulty spikes, but for the most part, Beat Sneak Bandit lives in that perfect balance between trying to stump you and encouraging you to figure out the puzzles. There’s something special about the sense of accomplishment I got while figuring out the levels in Beat Sneak Bandit that speaks to the very basics of what video games are about. In fact, I even found myself retrying levels until I collected every single clock—the kind of thing I haven’t cared about in a game for quite some time.

The art style is the only place where I felt a little underwhelmed by Beat Sneak Bandit. The visuals are more Cartoon Network than they are Wind Waker, which is fine, but not particularly unique. Furthermore, for a game that emphasizes sound, the music itself can be pretty annoying most of the time. Yes—it’s bubbly and upbeat, but you can only take so much of the “wacky” synthesizers and “zany” sound effects in a game that requires you to have the sound on to play it.

A few minor complaints about style aside, Beat Sneak Bandit is another refined achievement from Simogo and perhaps their most successful game yet. It’s intelligently designed and it works marvelously with the iOS interface. Most importantly, though, Beat Sneak Bandit has cured me of my habit of cringing at the sound of the phrase “rhythmic puzzler,” which is saying a lot.