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Video Game / Beat Hazard

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"Beat Hazard is designed to overload the senses and batter your eyes from start to finish."
Starg, confirming our suspicions

Beat Hazard is an indie twin-stick Shoot 'Em Up created by Cold Beam Games debuting on Xbox LIVE Indie Games and has since been subsequently released on PlayStation Network, Steam, DESURA, GamersGate, the Apple App Store, Android OS, and The premise is simple: choose a song, which in this case is a level, and shoot stuff up. The things you'll battle against consists of space junk of varying sizes, small space planes, big space planes, smarter space planes, bigger AND smarter space planes, large twin star-fighters armed with laser cannons and homing projectiles, gigantic battleships armed to the teeth with weapons, and then some. In other words: shoot anything that moves.

Ever played Asteroids? This game should look visually familiar. That is, until the space behind your ship suddenly becomes a psychedelic audio visualization. Your small fighter craft appears in the middle of the screen, things fly in from all sides, and you gotta dodge 'em and shoot 'em. Now, here's the catch: the game's difficulty level is also controlled by your choice of music, not unlike in Audiosurf. Survive the whole song and you complete the level — which means that Epic Rocking equals Marathon Level. Your spaceship's guns shoot faster and harder the faster and louder your chosen song is. And, on top of that, there are power-ups that make the music even louder and, of course, increase the power of your guns. If you need a breather, there's a Smart Bomb that harms everything around your ship's surroundings.

In Standard Mode, you choose a song and play through it, and you're done. Pick a new song, shoot some more bad guys, rinse and repeat. If you prefer, you can engage in Survival Mode and see how many songs you can get through before you lose all your lives. With the addition of Beat Hazard Ultra, the game adds a new variety of enemies (like the Mini-Serpents and Reapers), new game modes like a Boss Rush and the aforementioned Survival Mode, new special weapons to play around with, an even HARDER difficulty level, and more. Upping the ante even further, the Steam version later received the Shadow Ops expansion, which adds 9 new ships which can be unlocked by completing covert Shadow Missions, as well as Steam Workshop support to allow users to create their own ships and share them with the community.

Note that because of the way the game works, relevant music tropes often get paired with a video game trope.

On October 3, 2018, a sequel has been released on Steam as an Early Access title. One of the biggest new features introduced by the sequel is an Open Mic system that allows the game to use music from any source on the computer, such as YouTube or streaming platforms like Spotify. The sequel has left Steam Early Access and was finally released on Steam and on October 16, 2019.

This game displays examples of:

  • Achievement System: The Xbox 360 version of Beat Hazard has a psuedo-Achievement system for completing challenges (e.g. play the game over an hour or get a x100 multiplier) that adds up to 200 points as if they were Xbox LIVE Achievements. The PC and PlayStation 3 versions of Beat Hazard have Achievements and Trophies on their respective systems.
  • Abnormal Ammo:
    • Your Energy Weapon, which could only be called a Rave Motion Gun, shoots streams of technicolor awesome, fueled by music.
    • In Beat Hazard Ultra, some of the bosses have guns that shoot smaller ships at you.
  • Absurdly High Level Cap: Once you max out at Elite rank, you can still level-up your rank to Elite 1, Elite 2, Elite 76, and so on until Starg knows how high you can go. There is no known rank limit. However, there is a point limit. Breech it and each time it goes to the rank-point-adding-bar-thing it will start increasing rapidly... until you realize it's started from the lowest possible number (negative version of the highest) and is going from there, and is also stretching off of the screen. It doesn't actually break your total points or rank (you can go look at those elsewhere) but it is alarming to see at first.
  • Asteroids Monster: The obviously-named Asteroids, which consist of space debris and they break up into multiple smaller pieces upon destruction. In Beat Hazard Ultra, there are also magnetic Asteroids floating around.
  • Attack Drone: You get two versions of these as power-ups in 2. The Sentinel Drones are orbital drones that shoot at surrounding enemies for a limited time. The Crusader Auto Turret is a stationary turret with a limited amount of ammo that shoots at enemies in its range.
  • Attack Reflector: You can use a Reflector Shield in Ultra that can send most of the projectiles right back into the enemies while protecting your ship from harm. It becomes especially handy when dealing with Reapers and bosses that fires homing weapons.
  • Beam Spam: The deadly Tracker Cannon on boss ships. First, it uses a Laser Sight to aim at you. Then, it launches a salvo of beams at the place it locked you at. Hope you managed to move out of the way...
  • Bling-Bling-BANG!: The Golden Ship in Ultra. Originally it was exclusive for those that purchased the Steam version during its annual Summer Sale years prior, but the Golden Ship was included via a DLC; a mini-version of the Golden Ship can be unlocked by a set of collecting trading cards then "craft" them into a Level 1 badge. The Xbox 360 version of Beat Hazard Ultra can unlock the Golden Ship by reaching Elite rank.
  • Boss Rush: A Boss Rush mode was added in Beat Hazard Ultra, allowing you to fight against all the new bosses it has to offer.
  • Boss Warning Siren: A warning sound is played when a boss is about to enter the screen.
  • Bullet Hell: You shoot a lot. The bosses shoot a lot too. Compounded by the fact the screen flashes and vibrates with the beat of the music, distorting the bullets. Some things you can shoot down, some you have to dodge. More pronounced on Hardcore and the even harder modes.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: Player 1 is red, Player 2 is blue.
    • Competitive Multiplayer: The Head-to-Head in Ultra, where both players compete for the highest score.
    • Co-Op Multiplayer: The original game's multiplayer as well as in Ultra where players help each other survive through a song. Take heed as both players share the same lives and weapons stock.
  • Collision Damage: Just like in other shoot 'em ups, touching an enemy means death.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: It's possible to destroy a boss ship before it can even fire. Doing so in nets you the "Brutal Boss Kill" Achievement.
  • Death In All Directions: The modus operandi of the aptly named "Death Blossom", one of the nine ships included in the Shadow Operations Unit DLC.
  • Destructible Projectiles: You can shoot at and destroy mines and missiles. You can't do that to the red orbs, but they're easy enough to dodge.
  • Downloadable Content: The Ultra and Shadow Operations Unit expansions, which dramatically expands the game. There was also a cheap codec pack that enables you to play music in iTunes, m4a, mp4 and other formats. The Ultra expansion and the codec however became built into later versions of Beat Hazard, though players can use a custom BeatHazardPrefs.txt setting to make into classic version.
  • Dual Boss:
    • Sometimes instead of one bigger boss you have to deal with two smaller ones. They still pack some serious punch though.
    • You can have at least four different bosses on-screen at the same time during the Boss Rush mode.
  • Dynamic Difficulty:
    • Enemies fire more often as the music gets louder and faster.
    • Your weapon's damage output is based on the music intensity. During a quiet bit your weapons do very little damage to enemies; you can slaughter by the dozen with a single sweep of fire when it's intense.
  • Epic Rocking: If you enjoy Marathon Levels, try it. It'll hurt, though.
  • Epileptic Flashing Lights: The game starts with a seizure warning. Unfortunately, they made it skippable.
  • Expansion Pack: Beat Hazard Ultra, which caused a leaderboard and rank reset upon release due to changes in how quieter-but-still-intense sections of songs are handled (which is part of a free patch). There's enough new content in there to make it feel like a new game entirely.
    • There's also another DLC add-on called Shadow Operations Unit that adds Steam Workshop support, a ship editor, 9 new ships and ship-specific achievements.
  • Harder Than Hard: Hardcore not hard enough for you? Give Insane a try. Still not hard enough? Try Suicidal.
  • Homing Projectile: The enemies' Homing Missiles and Ring Mines. In Ultra, you can unlock and equip your own homing missiles with the Micro-Missiles.
  • Interface Screw:
    • When Volume and Weapon Power meters are full and the background visuals get going, it can be very hard to tell what's happening on screen. An intentional design decision as it changes with the difficulty and turning down the graphics intensity reduces your point harvest.
    • Certain enemies in the Ultra expansion can mess with your ship. Stalkers and Repulsers use gravity beams to either pull your ship in or push it away, potentially into something you shouldn't hit. Bosses can sometimes have either type on some of their hardpoints. There's also an enemy that essentially amounts to a chain of glowing energy balls that, if it touches you, disables your weaponry momentarily; mines dropped from a Miner can also cripple your ship's ability to use anything.
  • Laser Sight: When you see a boss use one, avoid it. That's the Tracker Cannon.
  • Macross Missile Massacre:
    • Homing Missile launchers on boss ships. Also, you can take it up to eleven with weapon power upgrades and the song's tempo. Reapers in Beat Hazard Ultra unleashes one upon death.
    • The Ring Mine launchers on Suicidal are slightly faster and fire in larger quantities per burst.
    • The Micro-Missiles in Ultra gives you one of these. They prioritize the most threatening target on screen, totally bypassing other enemies to reach it. If some missiles are left over afterwards, they will automatically track the next most dangerous target and so on. The Reflector Shield can also turn enemy missiles and Ring Mines back at the enemies.
  • Meta Multiplayer: Leaderboards.
  • Musical Assassin: You! Unfortunately, this also goes for the enemies and bosses, whose energy projectiles change color and pulsate in time with the music.
  • No-Damage Run : Several of the Shadow Missions requires you to finish a certain number of entire tracks on a certain difficulty or harder without being killed or destroy a certain number of enemies without being killed. If you die, you either fail the current track or your kill count drops all the way to zero!
  • No Plot? No Problem!: And who needs one to blast away an armada of space ships, asteroids, and robotic serpents while raving out to your favorite music anyway!I
  • Not-Actually-Cosmetic Award: In most versions of Beat Hazard, the Golden Ship serves mainly as glitz-and-glamour outside of giving you something that can easily stand out in psychedlic background and flashy effects, however, in the iOS version, the Golden Ship also boosts score when used.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: You. One shot or wrong move into an enemy ship is all it takes to turn you into space dust.
  • Painfully Slow Projectile: Orb Launcher. Unlike the Homing Missiles and Ring Mines, you can't shoot them down.
  • The Power of Rock: Or techno, or classic, or hip-hop, or... Throw on your favorite rock song and go to town.
  • Power-Up: The VOL and POW power-ups raises your ship's firepower and spread respectively, while the +1 (+5 in the other versions, and in Ultra, +10) Multiplier Bonus ups your score multiplier. In Ultra, you can also get ammo for your special weapons you've equipped.
  • Roboteching: The homing projectiles as mentioned before.
  • RPG Elements:
    • The game remembers your scores from each song and treats them as experience points, with levels having the names of naval ranks such as Cadet and Commander. Prior to Beat Hazard Ultra each level afforded you a tangible bonus, such as extra starting lives or Smart Bombs. Reaching max rank let you start off with the Beat Hazard at full power!
    • Beat Hazard Ultra changed the always-enabled level-up awards into a perks system giving you 3 slots (which can be increased to 8 in Ultra) to equip perks with, and you'll have to upgrade perks separately. Additionally, the expansion pack adds a handful of new perks, mostly pertaining to new weapons.
  • Scoring Points: What's it all about, dude.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: The whole point.
  • Sensory Abuse: Basically the game's main feature, where it is designed to potentially fry your retinas.
  • Serial Escalation: Cold Beam Games previously implemented a slider to turn down the intense visuals (with a decrease in point scoring to match). As of the Beat Hazard Ultra expansion, it can be turned up to 150% or even 200%. Some people want it to go up to 500%!
  • Sheathe Your Sword: Wait a few seconds without shooting and you'll get a Dare Devil bonus which increases your multiplier. Holding fire for a minute gives an Achievement.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Try shooting ships to Michael Giacchino's Married Life theme from Up sometime. Can happen in itself - you can be calmly dodging asteroid fields as muted death metal murmurs in the background.
  • Smart Bomb: You can unleash an explosive blast that can clear some enemies on screen.
  • Space Fighter: You, and many of the enemies you face.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Going from a soft section to a loud section of a song (or from a soft to loud song in Survival mode) results in this — for you and the enemies!
  • Taking You with Me: The Reapers in Beat Hazard Ultra. They're harmless at first, but once destroyed, they release a barrage of homing missiles upon destruction.
  • Title Drop: The Super Mode caused by maxing out Volume and Weapon Power at the same time is called Beat Hazard.
  • Video-Game Lives: You have only three, so make them count. In Ultra, there's a perk called Lifesaver that gives you two extra lives.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Although dying causes you to lose a lot of power & volume powerups, it also causes a lot of items to spawn where you died, usually mostly powerups. This, combined with the fact that you automatically use an extra superbomb when the song ends, means dying right at the end is sometimes a good way to multiply the score from your final kills.
  • Wave-Motion Gun:
    • The Ultra Beam, which fires a stream of musical awesomeness.
    • To a lesser extent, the Hazard Beam; it becomes available when you max out both Volume and Weapon Power, and fires along with your regular weapons.