No game, and I mean no game, has ever reflected my taste so accurately. No game has ever felt like the game I would make — If I had a modicum of the talent necessary for game development. Penis puns, Dave Chapelle references, kung-fu, hip-hop, graffiti, potty humor… These are most of the things that make up Devoun, and it just so happens the same ingredients make up Hip Hop Berserker from FourTwoThree Studios; a mobile game that, for me, feels like looking in a mirror.
Hip Hop Berserker is, well, let’s call it a rhythm-runner. Players have to swipe, or tap, on the touch screen while Saro, the games main character, runs, flips, throws shurikens and decapitates foes to the beat of a soundtrack reminiscent of hip-hop’s renaissance. Rhythm games are coupled to their soundtracks, and if I can steal an excerpt from the Married With Children theme song, “…you can’t have one without the other.” Hip Hop Berserker synchronizes its soundtrack with the appropriate swipes, which allows players to establish a necessary rhythm with the song that is playing — if that sounds like something any game considering itself a rhythm game shouldn’t get wrong, go look at Kickbeat.
However, not long after establishing that rhythm, Hip Hop Berserker subverts it. Certain enemies have the ability to change what direction a player is supposed to swipe right before the input is necessary. Now, I have to add that this does not happen randomly, like the rest of the swipes it is done in conjunction with the song. But seeing a swipe change broke my coordination just enough for it to be distracting, and subsequently leading to my demise. Admittedly, it is an interesting subversion, albeit, I am not entirely sure I like it. Also, when players go on a beat streak a circle gauge fills up, and when full, sends Saro into Berserker mode, which sends the game into slow motion; Berserker mode is the best weapon against the enemies who change the direction of swipes, although actually getting Berserker mode requires the player to be able string some beats together — it’s a catch 22 in a way.
Another thing Hip Hop Berserker unexpectedly does? It has a narrative. It follows the typical damsel in distress archetype, but come on, Hip Hop Berserker just wants to make you laugh, and it accomplishes that goal. Firstly, the villain of the tale is named Hu-Man Dong. Let me repeat that…Hu-Man Dong — if you’re not laughing at that you’re soulless. Some of the jokes are referential, so if you’ve never heard Dr. Dre’s Keep Their Heads Ringin’, or have watched an episode of Chapelle’s Show the references may fly right over your head. Nevertheless, those things are my wheelhouse, and I enjoyed every single one of Hip Hop Berserker’s rag-doll animated cut scenes — its the Saturday morning cartoon I’ve always wanted, but never got.
Like most free mobile games Hip Hop Berserker has to make a buck somehow. Luckily, the developers never reach into your wallet. Each level has three different difficulties, with a three star grading system — I think the stars are based on your beat streak and the amount of damage Saro takes, but the game never makes it explicitly clear. Coins are rewarded at the end of every level, and act as the Hip Hop Berserker currency. They can be used to revive Saro after death, so players can pick up exactly where they died, otherwise, you have to start from the beginning of the level. Again, this is where other mobile games would more than likely fleece you. Restarting a level after a death is always available, there are no timers that you have to pay in order for the time to tick faster. In addition, you can use the coins to buy power-ups in the Hip Hop Berserker store. Everything is fairly priced, and I didn’t feel as though I had to use real money in order to get power-ups — I amassed a substantial amount just playing through the story. All in all it feels fair, and I think that’s the most important thing when it comes to the free-to-play approach. You can play the entirety of Hip Hop Berserker without spending a dime.
Hip Hop Berserker is a game that speaks directly to my personality with its sense of humor. I enjoyed everything from its soundtrack to its graffiti plastered art style, and while I have my qualms about some of the game’s mechanics it manages to blend rhythm, hip-hop and kung-fu into one cohesive package that is available for the low, low price of free.
[+ Great sense of humor] [+Amazing soundtrack] [+ Goofy homage to hip-hop] [+ Fair Monetization] [+ Dave Chapelle reference] [+ Dr. Dre reference] [+ Dick Jokes] [- Swipe switching mechanic messes up the rhythm of game]