Every now and then games, like any other art form, aspire to something greater and attempt to reach beyond their usual boundaries. Surely though, to apply a high brow concept within the Community Games section of the Xbox Marketplace (where at one point the highest selling title was `A Perfect Massage`) is a recipe for disaster? Developers Funkmasonry Industries attempts to go against the grain with their title, Groov.
Visually Groov owes a debt to the Geometry Wars series in both its layout and execution. Thankfully it soon becomes apparent that this is merely to propel the ideas contained within and the more it`s played, the more the true intentions of the title are revealed.
Within the play area, every shot fired by the players’ ship (called the conductor) produces a sound. Enemies once hit are frozen and turn white. In this state they can be powered through without the punitive touch of death, and as each successive wave is unlocked, sounds are introduced.
Each enemy class is labelled as an instrument in its own right and as Drums, Trumpet and Rappers appear, a groove can soon be initiated, as it dips and flows from up to down tempo accordingly.
What we end up with is as close to an approximation of free form jazz as has probably ever been attempted in a video game. While this may sound ever so slightly pretentious, Groov manages to fuse its elements together, and anyone with even half a sense of rhythm will soon find the ability to jam with the tools available. With three lives at their disposal, most will find their way to the end of the original mix, but the expert mix will provide a stiffer challenge, with one life and no room for error.
The only real downside to Groov is how it feels too busy at times and can be all over before hitting your stride, before finding the zone, if you will. As an exercise, Groov provides an exciting if slight experience that would probably never have existed if it wasn`t for the Indie Games platform and manages to stand out from the crowd. While no “A Love Supreme”, Groov proves that genuine talent is alive and kicking within the independent development scene.