TuneWiki Tries to Refresh Mobile Rhythm Games with Lyric Legend

Lyric LegendDue to the popularity of games like Tap Tap Revenge, many developers have created rhythm game for the iPhone. But TuneWiki‘s new iPhone title, Lyric Legend, feels refreshingly unique. Using elements learned from their popular TuneWiki Social Music Player, the developer is hoping to recreate their success through innovative game play.

Lyric Legend focuses on music discovery, but where other music games tend to rely on beats, Lyric Legend adds the actual lyrics. It’s an interesting mechanic that takes some getting used to, and is at times unintuitive. But our only small complaints come from usability issues for the in-game store and difficulty settings.

Unlike Guitar Hero where notes stream down the screen, TuneWiki has a more psychedelic-themed space, filled with lyrics. For every verse of the song, the word-by-word lyrics are presented within floating, multi-hued orbs. As each word is sung, a glowing circle forms around the orb and gradually shrinks into it. To get the maximum points, players must tap the correct lyric as the circle reaches the corresponding orb.

Legend PowerThere is no noticeable penalty for missing a word, but losing a note streak lowers your score at the end of a song.  Breaking a streak also stunts accumulation of “Legend Power,” which is a score multiplier activated by shaking the iPhone once a gauge at the top of the screen is full.

Long notes are indicated by a “glow.” Holding down a glowing orb will cause a gauge encircling it to fill up, earning maximum points. But with so many colors floating about, everything tends to blend together and the “glow” is barely noticeable.

There are some more traditional rhythm elements as well. When there are no words, six columns of smaller orbs stream down and players must hit them in order as they reach the bottom — reminiscent of the Tap Tap games.

LyricsLyric Legend’s mechanics take a little getting used to, but it is a lot of fun and the learning curve is not long. The only slightly awkward aspect of this mechanic is that it sometimes feels odd to hit words with more than one syllable just once.

The app is free to download and comes with three starter tracks: Gimme Sympathy by Metric, Giving Up the Gun by Vampire Weekend, and Move Along from The All-American Rejects. More songs are purchased in the in-game Song Store in packs of two for $0.99. The Song Store has many well-known artists, including Elton John, Jackson 5, Queen and Coldplay. But several of the artists aren’t so well known and there is no way to preview a song prior to purchase.

No LyricsWith only three free songs, players will need to purchase songs to keep the game fresh. There are five difficulties, with harder levels placing more lyrics on the screen at a time.  Players must complete lower difficulties before attempting the higher ones. For veterans of the genre, this feels both boring and artificial.

The game also comes with basic sharing mechanics. Players can post scores and challenges to Facebook and Twitter or email them. Beyond this, there are leaderboards and rankings to view, showing users their position on a city, state, national, or global scale. Were the simple elements not enough, there is also Bluetooth multiplayer that will allow up to four friends to connect and play together synchronously.

All in all Lyric Legend is a pretty innovative little number that is both different and surprisingly enjoyable. Most of the best rhythm games have followed the Guitar Hero style, so it seems risky to jump into a new idea; but in this case, the bet was a good one. That said, TuneWiki’s concept does have a learning curve, albeit a short one. Whether or not the new app will have the same appeal that TuneWiki’s Social Music Player had, is yet to be determined.