I can’t help but presume that the developers over at Fliptus are all massive fans of Foreigner’s Juke Box Hero, as the song well explains the plot of their recently debuted Beat Bop: Pop Star Clicker (out now, free). The game features a scruffy guy whom — while sitting around the park — suddenly gets the idea that he’s going to become the next music sensation, all he really needs to have first is a functioning guitar. He then proceeds to defy all known physics by making a cardboard cutout of a guitar, attaching some strings to it, and afterwards using it to rock-out in front of various park-going passersby.
From here you’ll begin tapping the screen as fast and furiously as possible, for this is how your rising pop-star hopeful is going to rock-out and — in the process — earn the money needed to make it big. Thankfully you’ll earn cash with each successful tap, and even more once you begin completely rocking-out (rocking-out is done by rapidly tapping until a gauge fills up, and then maintained by continuing the furious nonstop tapping). Basically this is the same game as Clicker Heroes (our review), except that Fliptus has replaced the conceit of a stereotypical RPG party — endlessly slaughtering monsters left and right — with that of a musician playing every last venue imaginable.
Rather than recruiting other mercenaries to help you out, you’ll do what every famous band eventually does — other than breaking up, that is — and begin offering merchandise for your fans to buy. Furthermore, this merchandise — much like the value of each and every time you tap the screen — will temporarily go up while your band is in the midst of passionately rocking their hearts out. While there are other means of pulling in money (that I’ll cover soon enough), furiously tapping the screen — as well as making merchandise available — will generally be your two primary income sources in Beat Pop.
This money can then be used to either improve the merchandise you already have, construct new kinds of merchandise entirely, or to improve your band’s equipment (which ultimately doubles the value of each and every on-screen tap). Improving your over-all band-level will additionally unlock different equipment for you to use (because you can’t just use a fake guitar forever), as well as different backup players to help out. One thing I particularly liked was that your earned profits weren’t directly coupled with these unlocked visuals, meaning that you were free to stock your band with any items/people you liked — either new or old — without ever hurting yourself in the process.
Beyond the accessories, outfits, venues (each with their own unique song), and musicians that can be unlocked via slowly spending your money on band-level upgrades, there’s also the high-end stuff that can only be randomly found within the special VIP Lounge. You can only enter the VIP Lounge — however — if you have nine VIP tickets on hand; which you’ll either have to buy with Diamonds, or earn by going to recording sessions when they become available. During these you’ll be challenged to keep your audio-levels within the ideal pitch — which is constantly moving up and down — by rapidly tapping in order to get louder, and then quickly letting go when you need to quiet back down.
What I easily most liked about Beat Bop would definitely have to be this motif that Fliptus has piled on top of everything, especially since the rather limited presentation of the original Clicker Heroes got old fast (even if the game was otherwise quite addictive). There is — for instance — a non-stop news ticker running at the top of your screen, giving you non-stop TMZ-Style scoops covering the game’s often-scandalous fictional world. This concept is then taken even further via your band occasionally receiving various calls from their agent, each featuring either an offer to appear on TV — hawk some weird new product — or otherwise conduct an interview with some pop-culture obsessed magazine.
These will then — if activated — either pay out lots of money, some Diamonds (which are Beat Bop’s equivalent to Clicker Heroes’ Rubies), or give a temporary boost to the money earned either via tapping or merchandise. You opt-in to these offers from your manager by agreeing to watch an advertisement before the opportunity dissolves, which — by itself — would not necessarily be a big problem. However, these calls from your agent tend to come in fast and furious (which quickly leads to the feeling that — if you always opt-in — you’re spending more time watching the ads than you’re spending rocking-out).
Further exacerbating the non-stop ad-rush are the tarot cards you may electively choose from each time they pop-up, with the three cards presented representing all sorts of crazy things that might happen during your career. Will you get asked to headline at the world dictator convention, have a wardrobe malfunction during a concert, or even become the centerpiece of a news article questioning the negative effects of today’s music on kids? Picking a good card will give you the chance to either take the listed-bonus, or you could watch an ad to double it, whereas picking a bad card will cause you to incur some sort of penalty (unless — of course — you then watch an ad in order to escape the punishment).
While these scandals and agent-calls definitely help with the verisimilitude of Fliptus’ “rising rock star” conceit, they also tag-team you into one of the most aggressive mobile-ad watching sprees I have ever encountered. While you can certainly choose to avoid the tarot cards and agent-offers whenever they pop up, you’d then be stuck doing little more than furiously pounding away at Beat Bop while you try desperately to rake in the cash. This is sadly because — although I didn’t mention it previously — Beat Bop: Pop Star Clicker isn’t exactly very walk-away friendly, which is sort of a must-do thing when you’re trying to be yet another entry in the popular Clicker genre.
While your band indeed sells their various merch while you have the game turned off, their merchandise will only last for so long until you’ll have to tap a button in order to restock your supply. While this makes sense from a real-world perspective, it ultimately means you won’t ever really have an escape from the endless-tapping early on (especially since these initially only last for 600 seconds, which can be upgraded with diamonds). This inability to just let Beat Bop do its own thing whenever you’re sleeping/working (or at least not early on), coupled with the nearly endless ads, easily performs a number that’s guaranteed to quickly grate on your nerves.
Still, if you’re really into the game’s rags-to-riches Rock Star motif — and are able to overlook some of the odd ways in which Beat Bop: Pop Star Clicker departs from Clicker Heroes’ solid basis — then odds are fairly good that you’ll enjoy this all the same.
Beat Bop: Pop Star Clicker does a really good job at taking the ultra-successful formula from Clicker Heroes and then laying a rags-to-riches Rock Star motif on top of it (all coupled with tons of little touches to perfectly sell this idea). Unfortunately — while the conceit may be perfectly handled — Fliptus has made some odd design choices along the way, meaning that you’ll need to regularly check-in or else the away-earnings will completely halt each and every time your merch runs out. There’s also the fact that this game’s endless ad offers — which are likely to come at you in a fast and furious manner — can quickly be rather annoying, although the excellent motif alone is sure to entertain if one can bring themself to overlook these issues.