Video Game: Sound Voltex

aka: Sound Voltex Booth
SOUND VOLTEX (officially abbreviated as SDVX) is a member of Konami's Bemani series of Rhythm Games. Its a variation of beatmania with pretty much identical gameplay, in regards to the "hit the keys when they hit the line" part (but thenagain, aren't most rhythm games similar to that in the first place?). But instead of the familiar piano keys, it uses four square buttons in a row, accompanied by two larger "FX" buttons directly below them, along with effector knobs on both sides (which you must either slowly rotate in a certain direction, or quickly slam between sides).

The other big distinction is that most of its soundtrack consists mostly of remixes of songs from other Bemani games by doujin musicians; but through Downloadable Content, this aspect quickly went out of control as the game began to be flooded with Vocaloid songs and Touhou remixes (and even long-time meme songs like "Bad Apple", "Help me, ERINNNNNN!!", and even the Nyan Cat song!).

There are currently two games in the series. Subsequent installments are provided as online updates, rather than through upgrade kits:
  • Sound Voltex Booth (2012)
  • Sound Voltex II: Infinite Infection (2013)
    First BEMANI game to be released as an online update. Unlike Booth, where bottom notes can only be hold notes and top notes can only be tap notes, both rows of notes can either be tap or hold notes. Sound Voltex II also introduces the Infinite difficulty, available only on specific songs.
  • Sound Voltex III: Gravity Wars (2015)
    This version of the game introduces the, you guessed it, Gravity difficulty, once again available only on specific songs. Some songs from older versions also received their own Gravity (or GRV, as the game calls it), charts. New charts in this game have even more perspective gimmicks; charts may shake, switch to a top-down view, zoom in and out, etc.

Although the series is pretty new compared to long-running BEMANI series like beatmania and DanceDanceRevolution, its unique twist on falling-note button-pressing gameplay, heavy focus on fan-submitted content from recogonizable and aspiring artists, the lengths to which Konami takes player feedback (in Sound Voltex II, Skill Analyzer charts were voted upon by players rather than being purely hand-picked by staff), and the loving care with which all key contributors to each song (music artist, chart designers (aka "Effectors"), and album art artists) are credited have made Sound Voltex one of the most rapidly-growing BEMANI series. In just three years, the songlist has expanded from 166 in Sound Voltex Booth to over 540 in Sound Voltex III; to compare, jubeat took seven years to reach that point.

Sound Voltex songs are considered licensed songs, and therefore traditional Sound Voltex soundtracks are not available. However, there is an album of Touhou remixes featured in the series available for purchase: SOUND VOLTEX ULTIMATE TRACKS -Touhou Koumakyou REMIX-, which is a compilation of songs chosen from the Touhou Project EOSDnote  Remix Contest.

STAND BY - ON YOUR MARK - TAKE POSITION. READY?

  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If your first song is level 7 or lower, you won't get a Game Over if you fail.
    • In the location test version of Gravity Wars, if playing with the Excessive Rate gauge and the gauge hits 0%, instead of a Game Over, the gauge would simply switch to the standard Effective Rate gauge. This type of gauge, the "Alternative Rate" gauge, was added into the release version in March 2015.
  • Ascended Meme: The cover art for "Second Heaven Lamaze-REMIX" depicts a 3-scoop ice-cream cone as a reference to the line "Somebody scream!" being Mondegreen'ed into "San-bai ice cream!" ("3-scoop ice cream!")
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: Remember "Nyan Cat" from Sound Voltex Booth? In Sound Voltex II, it gets an Infinite chart. And it's rated a 15.
  • Boss Rush: "KAC 2012 ULTIMATE MEDLEY -HISTORIA SOUND VOLTEX-" is a medley of various Sound Voltex songs, several of which have level 15 or 16 charts.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": This BEMANI series takes a number of liberties with conventional rhythm game terminology:
    • The judgements are called CRITICAL (perfect), NEAR (slightly off), and ERROR (way off or missing outright).
    • Combo is referred to as Chain, though this is a fairly mild example as the two terms are interchangable in many games.
    • A stage/song is referred to as a "track".
    • Clearing a track with no ERROR judgements, known as a Full Combo in other BEMANI games, yields the message "ULTIMATE CHAIN". Getting all CRITICAL judgements results in a "PERFECT ULTIMATE CHAIN".
      • Sound Voltex II and III just gives you a "PERFECT" instead, averting this instance of the trope.
    • The Life Meter is known as the "Effective Rate".
      • During Skill Analyzer courses, where the Life Meter is played straight, it is called the "Permissive Rate".
      • Another straight variation of the life meter, one intended to serve as a counterpart to beatmania IIDX's and Popn Music's HARD gauges, is called "Excessive Rate".
  • Crossover:
    • Touhou has a particularly large presence, featuring Appeal Cards of the characters and over 50 Touhou arranges. In fact, Sound Voltex II had a location test at the Touhou-centric Reitaisai 10 convention in 2013. It certainly helps that Mayumi Morinaga, a prominent BEMANI vocalist, is also a vocalist for Touhou arrange circle Yuuhei Satellite. There are so many Touhou arranges that they get their own category in SDVX II.
    • As far as BEMANI crossovers go, generally subverted in that most songs that make it over to SDVX get remixed, often by a artist contributing via Sound Voltex Floor.
    • Played straight with the POLICY BREAK and FLOOR INFECTION events beginning in SDVX II. POLICY BREAK is a type of SDVX event in which songs are crossed over from other BEMANI games and left in original form (excluding in-game filters). Examples include "VALLIS-NERIA", "I'm So Happy", and "BabeL ~Next Story~". FLOOR INFECTION is a type of event for other BEMANI games, which goes the other way: Sound Voltex songs get crossed over to other BEMANI games. Examples include "Joyeuse" in GITADORA and "Max Burning!!" in Reflec Beat.
  • Double Unlock: Some songs, as well as the Infinite and Gravity-difficulty charts for the songs that have said difficulties, require you to fulfill another condition before you are allowed to purchase them in the store, only accessible at the end of your standard game session.
    • The so-called 'boss songs', namely "For Ultra Players" (with a difficulty of EXH 16), and "Everlasting Message" (GRV 16) have exceptionally complicated unlock conditions as the player has to pass a series of other rather difficult songs to be able to purchase these songs in the shop.
      • Oh, did I forget to mention that those songs on the road to the boss songs have to be unlocked and/or bought as well? Well, they have to be.
  • Doujinshi: Doujin music is a major staple of the series.
  • Gimmick Level: Some charts have a disproportionately high number of knob trails compared to button notes. #Fairy_dancing_in_lake EXH is one of the more infamous examples of this.
    • Basically, if the chart was effected by Hirayasu Matsudo, expect it to be one of these.
    • Attack on Dwarf EXH takes this Up to Eleven. The chart has a maximum chain of 1700, but only contains 24 FX taps and 4 BT holds, which contribute 141 to the chain. The rest is knobs.
  • Harder Than Hard: Exhaust difficulty. Sound Voltex II ups the ante by introducing the Infinite difficulty, which is only available for select songs. 'Sound Voltex III introduces the Gravity difficulty, which has appeared as another extra difficulty for both preexisting songs in previous versions, as well as songs debuting in III. Currently no songs have both Infinite and Gravity difficulties.
  • Idiosyncratic Difficulty Levels: Novice, Advanced, Exhaust, Infinite/Gravity.
  • Interface Screw:
    • When using a knob, the playfield tilts accordingly. Sound Voltex II will play this straight with charts requiring the knobs to be held at a certain state (thus keeping it tilted).
    • Occasionally, using the knobs will cause the track to Do a Barrel Roll! The crossover boss song "VALLIS-NERIA" is infamous for doing this many times during the chart.
    • Gravity Wars introduces multiple new screws: the chart shaking on certain notes, the chart switching to an overhead view at some points, and the chart zooming in extremely close to the notes, among others.
  • Joke Level: "Nyan Cat".
  • Licensed Game:
    • FLOOR songs are considered licensed songs. As such traditional soundtracks are not available.
    • The series is also a Licensed Game series in another sense, in that it includes third-party intellectual properties VOCALOID and Touhou Project.
  • Life Meter:
    • In normal play, you get a special Life Meter called the "Effective Rate". It doesn't end the game if you hit 1%, but you do need to end the song with the meter at 70% or higher to pass.
    • In Skill Analyzer, you get a straight lifebar, the "Permissive Rate", that results in a TRACK CRASH if it hits 0% at any point.
    • Another straight lifebar is available in normal play, called the "Excessive Rate", with a higher penalty for missing.
  • Lost Forever: POLICY BREAK songs can only be unlocked for two weeks each. Fail to unlock a song during its availability period and they can't be unlocked anymore, although it may come back in a future update.
  • Oddly Named Sequel: The second version is actually "Sound Voltex II: Infinite Infection", and the third is named "Sound Voltex III: Gravity Wars".
  • Punny Name: The title "Sound Voltex" is a subversion of Japanese Ranguage; given the electronic/futuristic look of the game, its a worthy pun.
  • Required Spinoff Crossover: "FLOWER", though remixed by REDALiCE.
    • Also 凛として咲く花の如く, but also remixed, this time by Machigerita-P.
  • Sampling: Dreamin' feat Ryu has a lot of samples. (fittingly, some of them are from other Ryu songs such as Second Heaven or Thunderbolt)
  • Sequel Difficulty Spike: The maximum difficulty level was previously 15. However, during the Sound Voltex II tournament at KAC (Konami Arcade Championships) 2013 in December, two songs with Exhaust charts rated level 16 were introduced to the finalists: "Bangin' Burst" and "For UltraPlayers". Both songs were added for non-tournament play later that month. A third level 16 chart, "Max Burning!!" on Infinite, was added in September 2014.
    • As of June 2015, there are six songs with level 16 difficulty charts in total, specifically "Everlasting Message", "KAC 2012 ULTIMATE MEDLEY -HISTORIA SOUND VOLTEX-" and "大宇宙ステージ"; as well as the aforementioned songs. These three songs were all introduced in Sound Voltex III, with both "Everlasting Message" and "KAC 2012 ULTIMATE MEDLEY -HISTORIA SOUND VOLTEX-" debuting during the final round of the Sound Voltex III tournament at The 4th KAC on February 2015.
      • "Everlasting Message" was the winner of The 4th KAC Original Song Contest, and therefore was given the honor of being the final track the finalists had to play during the 4th KAC, debuting with a difficulty of GRV 16.
      • "大宇宙ステージ" has been around since the first SDVX game, Sound Voltex Booth, but received a GRV 16 chart in Gravity Wars.

TRACK COMPLETE

Alternative Title(s):

Sound Voltex Booth