If you're anything like me you've often thought to yourself, "man, I do like a good rhythm game, if only there was one that revolved around Jim Henson's classic creation, The Muppets, or, at the very least, a single Muppet." Well, my prayers – and quite potentially yours – have been answered. Released back in December and currently available for the iPhone is the rhythm game, Muppets Animal Drummer.
Animal is, of course, the well-known drummer of the famed band Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, a band whose members also include Floyd Pepper, Zoot, Janice, and Dr. Teeth himself. A rock band at their core, The Electric Mayhem has Animal in charge of keeping the all-important beat. To be sure, it is a difficult task for the wild thing, and one which, in Muppets Animal Drummer, he is going to help you learn all about.
Essentially, the game can be thought of as a somewhat goosed up version of Simon (the buttons you push are even brightly colored much like the ones on that classic game). Animal sits at the center of the screen surrounded by his drum kit of which he uses five different elements – bass drum, toms, crash cymbal, snare, and hi-hat. Animal sits there for four beats playing a combination of elements from his kit and then, using five different buttons – each of which corresponds to a single piece of Animal's kit – you have to play the same combination of items back at the same tempo.
The game comes with a half-dozen different songs, though oddly none of them are classic Muppet tunes. You go through a song four beats at a time following Animal's lead and if you score well enough you unlock the next tune. Unlock enough of the regular difficulty tunes and you open up "Animal" level difficulty on the same set of songs.
It all sounds pretty simple, and yet it isn't. There is a little set of lights in the upper right hand corner to help you time the beat, but as the moves get more complicated it definitely becomes significantly more difficult to follow Animal correctly. It can also be a little tough to work out – despite the countdown to your turn – exactly when the first downbeat is coming, miss that and you can kiss the those four beats goodbye. However, once you get the hang of it and start putting together combos you fill up a bonus meter on the left side of the screen which allows for you to go crazy Animal-style on the drums, racking up big points without having to worry about following the manic redhead.
The game also includes a free play mode in which you can rock out on the drums to any unlocked song or import ones from your iTunes library. Sound levels for the music, drums, and button volume can all be adjusted independently which can help you create that perfect mix.
For $1.99, the title is quite impressive, featuring good sound (headphones are recommended but not essential), good graphics, and a whole lot of fun. It even comes equipped with the ability to link to your Facebook account so that you can impress everyone with your score. At this moment the biggest drawbacks are the lack of songs through which you can follow Animal's lead and the fact that, inexplicably, while for three of the buttons (crash cymbal, hi-hat, and bass drum) you mirror animals movements by pressing with your left hand when Animal uses his right and vice versa, for the snare and toms this isn't true. Both of these problems are small and easily correctable with future releases however – and we certainly hope that future releases will be forthcoming.
As Animal himself has often said – "BEAT DRUMS! BEAT DRUMS!"
Though not ESRB rated, the game seems safe for all ages.