Inside My Radio

Inside My Radio explodes with potential right out of the gate. Unfortunately, that potential is never met with tremendous success and the game seems to peter out rather quickly. A rhythm-based platformer, Inside My Radio is all about hearing the music, internalizing the beat, and using that beat to jump, slide, and slam your way to the finish line. Along the way you’ll face platforming puzzles that require perfect timing to pass, enemies that go against the beat, and the occasional new tunes to listen to. The main audio focus of Inside My Radio is electronic music, but it tries to switch it up here and there. Much like the soundtrack, the game leaves you wanting more.

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Inside My Radio has a pretty minimal plot. A boom box has been possessed, the boom box is suffering from some issues, and someone (read: the player) needs to fix it. A brief tutorial gives players an idea that beat is the most important thing in the game. As an audio-based platformer, it’s important to explain the rules right off the bat. Actions in Inside My Radio can only be performed to the beat. Moving left and right doesn’t require the beat but jumping, sliding, and slamming all require you to be on beat in order to properly perform the action. If you’re not on beat your character will simply stay still and that typically leads to you dying. Thankfully, for those of us that are rhythmically challenged, Inside My Radio has a helpful HUD that keeps the beat right above the player in a simple two-dot format. This gives a visual cue to the player of when they can perform actions. It takes some getting used to as most platformers let players jump and attack when they want to. Having to become a slave to the beat may take you a bit to get comfortable with.

Once you do get comfortable with the game’s mechanics, you're off and platforming. The music in the background is, for the most part, electronic, which may or may not turn people off. Music is a big part of this game, obviously, and it’s worth noting that there are some different musical styles thrown in. After the first level you run into a disco character that changes up the audio. While the mechanics don’t change, the music is refreshing. This is amplified by an absolutely awesome boss battle that involves punk rock. I will say that despite the different genres of music, most of the basic audio is still electronic in nature. While there are disco or punk rock overlays, the base of the audio is electronic. And, as it turns out, some genres do better coupled with electronic music than others. Reggae, for instance, is an absolutely horrible companion for electronic music. Thankfully, you won’t suffer through that combination for long.

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In fact, you won’t be playing Inside My Radio for long in any capacity. It’s a very short game that shows the player all of its tricks from the start. It does its best to add some new twists and turns but after you learn to run, jump, slide, and slam you’ve pretty much exhausted the game’s mechanics. Unlike platformers such as Super Meat Boy that keep simple mechanics across the entire game but keep them interesting, Inside My Radio seems to run out of steam fairly early on. The puzzles aren’t too challenging and the hardest of the bunch required just a couple of tries to get through, and that’s probably due to my awful rhythm.

Perhaps the oddest thing about Inside My Radio is that for all the times the game goes out of its way to explain mechanics, the final boss fight is just a dodging game. Players get to use their skills against a boss for a couple of rounds and this culminates with the player dodging attacks for a solid 90 seconds before “beating the game”. It feels like a truly underwhelming ending and left me feeling unsatisfied. There was so much potential bursting out of the first couple of levels. I really enjoyed the disco and punk rock moments, however short they were, and was looking forward to other weird musical mashups. However, those mashups didn’t come and I was left wondering what a rap song would sound like in this universe.

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For what it’s worth, Inside My Radio is a great looking game with a bright and colorful palette. Later levels do a great job of changing colors to match the music and that effect is fun to watch despite it being heavily utilized. I enjoyed seeing new characters like the disco and reggae characters and how their levels differed from the main, green cube’s levels. There is a lot of unexplored ground here that could’ve been great to see.

Inside My Radio is a brief, interesting romp that never lives up to the potential it enters with. The first few levels will leave you feeling excited to see what’s next but there really isn’t much to see. The cards are on the table after level two and there aren’t any surprises to be had after that. For a game that looks and sounds so fresh and interesting, Inside My Radio was a disappointing experience that left me feeling unsatisfied and underwhelmed.