Experience a fresh mashup of the puzzle and strategy genres
Relive a homage to classic 1990s ensemble dramedies
This is my second title launching on Xbox and it’s really cool to see how much our company has grown since Hexagroove: Tactical DJ in 2020. The first time around was a great experience but there was so much more I wanted make more accessible and inviting. In Backbeatwe designed the interface from the ground up for 4K and scalable across all members of the Xbox device family. The games we design at Ichigoichie are built on mashing up genres and deriving our gameplay mechanics from musical theory. This was at times a little overwhelming in Hexagroove, so I worked hard to portion out new mechanics in Backbeat through a much broader portion of the game. So much in fact you’ll still be learning new tricks more than three quarters through the main campaign!
Backbeat is at first glance a turn-based sokoban puzzle game. You have a band of up to four characters and must get them all to the goal within a limited number of turns. Each character moves differently presenting unique challenges. After some levels we introduce time mechanics to the mix, and you’ll need to synchronize each character’s timeline with the others, working together to unblock obstacles on the path to the goal. Finally, we add four shared resources you must manage while navigating space and time. Which turns you choose to change direction or interact with the environment cause these resources to increase or decrease. Maximize the resources and you get a high score. Run out of resources, and you’re in a failure state. Fortunately, rewinding the turns of each character individually is possible to allow incremental improvements to your puzzle solutions.
One thing I wanted to add to Backbeat was a story to motivate your choices and set the stakes. The setting is 1995 in suburban Washington, D.C. and has a lot of callouts to the last days of the analog era before the advent of the internet. The narrative is a homage to ensemble 90s dramedies like “With Honors”, “The Commitments”, and “School of Rock”. Heroine Watts is doing her best to hold together a band of amateur funk musicians and contending with all the struggles of collaborative creation: inflated egos, clashing personality types, and external responsibilities to work and family. A diverse cast of characters exists in each of the two main bands, and I hope you can find one that speaks to you.
If you’re a fan of puzzle games, turn-based strategy, or story-rich retro experiences, then I think there’s something for you to appreciate, and many more novel features to discover. Start with the free demo of Backbeatand I hope you have some funky fun!
A mashup of puzzle and strategy games. Manipulate four threads of time to guide your band through sokoban-style puzzles. Manage squad resources over a set of limited turns. Experience a homage to 1990s ensemble dramedies. Customize the dynamic soundtrack with audio effects.
=== STORY ===
Stephanie "Watts" Watson, an aspiring bassist, bounced from audition to audition never finding music that really resonated with her, that is, until she discovered the magic of funk. Caught up in the groove, she recruits a group of hometown amateurs to take on art school darlings La Tormenta at the Battle of the Bands.
=== MECHANICS ===
Each character in your band moves through the map in different ways, encountering unique solutions and obstacles. Advancing a character consumes a turn and part of the timeline, setting up interactions with other characters and enemies at different points in time. Rewinding a turn undoes your move, allowing you to find improved solutions and new ways to tackle problems.
Manipulate each character separately, rewinding or fast-forwarding along the timeline in the process to reach her current point in time. Changes in time are reflected in the progress and actions both past and present of each character, creating some possibilities and removing others.
Each character has his own resource-limited super move which can be triggered under certain conditions. Tip toe through tight spaces with your bassist, slide through guards with your keytar player, break through walls with your drummer, or blow enemies out of the way with your mighty super sax. Strategic use of your super moves increase the number of solutions to each puzzle and are the key in gaining a maximum score.
Four resource-based musical metrics govern how and when you can move and interact with objects in the levels. These can completely block progress if used inefficiently, and create amazing musical chains and high scores when regulated artfully.
=== MUSIC ===
Join Watts as she grows on a musical journey rooted in funk and fusion. Soulful grooves and hot licks are composed by Pete Fraser, session saxophonist to the The Pogues, Friendly Fires, and Field Music! Twenty musical motifs are recorded by a live ensemble of seven funk masters, providing the foundation for the dynamic music in the game. Unique songs are generated depending on what directions and paths you take in each puzzle. Customize your performance with alternate playing styles, instruments swaps, and realtime audio effect pedals.
=== CONCEPT ===
Backbeat is a homage to the 16 and 32-bit story-driven games of the 1990s, recreating the challenges and victories of the last days of analog life and the birth of the internet. The suburban Washington D.C. area is reflected in diner parking lots, shopping malls, and dimly lit arcades.
A colorful cast of supporting characters both friend and foe join Watts as she struggles with leadership, success, and holding together a band.