A game of its own generation: THUMPER


THUMPER a psychedelic, rhythm game of violence was released last October to a lot of praise. (Photo courtesy of THUMPER)

At times it can be challenging to describe and organize games that don’t fit into easily identifiable categories like side-scrollers, first person shooters, massive online battle arenas, fighters, role playing games or beat-em-ups. With new technologies coming out at a fast pace that trickle into the video game world, new genres must be forged and Thumper does exactly that.

THUMPER has been getting a lot of praise and positive attention since its release in October of last year. Often described as a psychedelic, rhythm horror/thriller game, Thumper is a very easy game to pick up and its visuals and music alone have a strong pull to the game.

The game set-up is third person, where you are in control of a small silver beetle riding a glowing rail with a long view of the bending and twisting rail set before you. The object of the game is to progress to checkpoints through levels that ultimately pit you against a boss. The game is based in music and rhythm much like guitar hero’s main mechanic is to hit the notes with the correct tempo and orientation. Thumper requires the same but with way more depth and composition, as all the tracks were designed specifically for this game by a Rhode Island School of Design alumnus Brian Gibson.

The games starts at a decent tempo that is engaging and it teaches you the basic mechanics of the patterns you will be encountering that require you to jump slide or press into highlighted areas of the track in order to complete the percussion fills for the tracks. If you fail to hit these areas your character takes damage and can only be hit twice before game over. But this works both ways. If you do well and hit the targets with precise timing and consistency the game will rewards you with healing checkpoints.

The game gets it’s horror reputation because of it’s high tension choke points and terrifying boss designs, almost like it’s something out of H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon. The basic framework of the progression through the game is similar to that of Super Mario where there are several levels all with unique bosses, sounds, checkpoints, and stage styles that players can return to after completion.

This game could also be correlated to a kind of Simon says type game play due to the unique call and response cues intertwined with the music. The game has specially designed musical cues that essentially tell you via sound the type of patterned obstacle that is about to reach your character. But the game uses this against you: once you get comfortable with how the game works, it never fails to trick or frustrate you with a new type of rhythm/action or it will overlap the samples so that you must rely on vision as opposed to sound. The same is done vice versa with the visuals: crazy patterns and shapes will surround obstacles, making them hard to identify so you must listen to the cues and rely on your intuition.

Coupled with a drummer named Brian Chippendale, Gibson is currently a member of a noise rock band called Lightning Bolt that plays phenomenal shows frequently in their hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. Gibson stepped away from his music performance career temporarily to co-found the video game company Drool and develop this ground-breaking game designed for ultra immersion with new Virtual Reality systems.

Brian Gibson is particularly known for his unique and complex set-up, tuning, and use of his bass guitar. The majority of Gibson’s playing draws on fairly simple loops and major/minor chord structures, yet also employs more advanced guitar techniques, such as tapping. Gibson uses a high amount of distortion, feedback and effects. In juxtaposition to Chippendale’s frenetic drums, Gibson’s playing often acts as a rhythm section of sorts. With the use of his many effect pedals, Gibson often creates multiple layers of his own bass riffs. Due to the high level of distortion used, “lead” playing style, and high register tuning of his instrument, Gibson is often mistaken for a guitarist.

This game received a 9/10 on steam, a 9/10 on GameSpot and 9/10 on IGN. I would personally give this game the same score; it is unique and incredibly addicting. It is a truly incredible gaming experience, best taken with the lights off and the volume up high. You can find it on steam and the PSN store for $15.00

Overall Rating 9/10

Dan Wood is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at daniel.wood@uconn.edu.

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