Beat Sketcher combines the art of “light drawing” and music creation to create a new and unique experience for PS3 gamers, and using the PlayStation Move lets budding artists draw highly detailed pictures and share them with friends and family. When the game is first loaded a thorough calibration process kicks in, and while all PlayStation Move games contain calibration, this one is worth mentioning due to its effectiveness.
While other games simply calibrate the Move, they often don’t calibrate the gamer’s position in relation to the TV screen. In Beat Sketcher, the player is asked to wave the Move back and forth; if the player is too close or far away, it will prompt them to take a step forward or back until in the proper position. This is extremely helpful as it lets the player place him or herself in the best place, making it easier to draw lines spanning the screen as well as sketch more intricate details. Keeping inside the three to four foot range yields the best playing results and the calibration puts you right where you need to be.
In Creation Mode the player can select one of four empty canvases and to start with a blank canvas, a template or a picture imported from the PS3's hard drive. There is a nice selection of templates to trace, but the ability to import pictures from the hard drive is the most interesting: importing photos of friends and family and drawing all over them is tremendously entertaining.
Creation Mode also houses an impressive amount of features and tools to create different effects, allowing you to create just about anything you can think of. While the array of features is welcomed, it takes a lot of time to get used to the menu system, and although you're able to use a range of tools it's unlikely most gamers will be able to use every one without some artistic ability or a great deal of practice.
For those looking for a little more structure, Challenge Mode offers a set of twelve trials that have the player draw over a template while keeping in time with the beat of the soundtrack. As lines to the template appear on screen, players must wait and trace over them while a piece of the soundtrack is played, with rankings according to timing and artistic accuracy. Although the difficulty increases as you progress through the twelve trials, there's little replay value once all the challenges are complete.
The single player games include Paint challenge, which simply gives the player fifteen seconds to paint as much of the screen as they can; Line challenge, which has the player draw as long a line as possible without touching a wall or their line in fifteen seconds; and Rainbow Challenge, essentially a timed connect-the-dots game littered with shapes that the player cannot touch. At the end of each challenge players are awarded with a score based on accuracy percentage, length and score respectively.
The multiplayer games will offer a more direct means of competition for one to four players using a single PlayStation Move controller by using a “pass the controller” style of gameplay. The modes include Paint Battle, Line Challenge, Theme Battle, Sketch-In Battle, One-Stroke Relay and Four-Frame Relay, but for the competitive amongst you it's worth noting that only the first two have a scoring system.
Paint Battle is a form of Paint Challenge where the players must take turns to see who can colour in the screen the most. At the end of the player rotation, the player with the highest percent wins. The second mode is called Line Battle, again just Line Challenge adapted for multiple players by comparing line length at the end of all the rounds. These two modes are the only real scored competitive modes available, but they both lack depth: after playing each a couple of times, it’s likely you’ll not revisit these two game modes.
Theme Battle is probably the most fun of the multiplayer modes because each player has thirty seconds to draw an image related to a random theme given by the game, ranging from animals to spacesuit advertisements. Although simple this game mode was the most fun even after hours of play, the variety of themes helping to take away the “what should I draw?” element.
Four-Frame Relay, which essentially allows players to create a four-frame comic strip based on a given theme, is one of the most simplistic multiplayer modes yet grows to be the most entertaining as bizarre comic strips can be shared via Facebook. It would have been nice to have an option that allowed more than four frames, but four is sufficient for most drawings as well as to recreate popular Internet memes.
Using PlayStation Move with Beat Sketcher is remarkably precise and the calibration remains consistent throughout gameplay. Everything from drawing to navigating menus feels smooth and under control, but the inability to use more than one PlayStation Move leads to a slightly inadequate multiplayer experience. Expect plenty of fighting for the controller and frustration while waiting for slower artists to finish their turn; however, with a patient party, Beat Sketcher is immensely fun.
The in-game audio is top notch and the ability to create music using art leads to an extremely unique experience that everyone is likely to find enjoy. The songs are catchy and vary from genres such as classical, hip hop, rock, jazz and techno.
Creation and Challenge mode allow gamers to record and upload videos of their creations straight to YouTube as well as export created images to the XMB to share with friends over the PlayStation Network, or even upload to Facebook or Picasa using the built-in PS3 Photo Gallery.
Playing alone or with a few friends, Beat Sketcher has a lot to offer for a PSN game. Artistic gamers will love the openness and freedom of Creation Mode, while less artistic gamers will still enjoy the structure and test of Challenge Mode. Load up Match Mode at a party and be prepared for some crazy and hilarious pieces of art to emerge. The balance of music and creation of art is unique and well done, and PlayStation Move fans should certainly check it out.