The date was the 1st of January 2020. The excitement of a new year and new decade was in the air, the world foolishly unaware of what was in store for us. But most importantly, 2 new Stadia Pro games had just been released. That’s right, 2. I know, what a tiny number of games compared to today!
Those games were Thumper and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Now, Thumper was a game I only knew 2 things about: it’s a rhythm game, and it looked really weird. I’m not a huge fan of rhythm games, but hey, it was the start of a new year, a time of new beginnings! So, I opened the game.
As I pressed play, I was very quickly introduced to who would be my best friend and protagonist for this game, shiny space beetle. Before him a track to run along, and an infinite void. After running along for a little bit, the first enemy of the game presented itself: a giant triangle with tentacles. Already the game was confusing me.
Fortunately, my beetle friend had the means of fighting this odd being: thumping. By thumping green squares on the track, a bolt shot across the track, damaging the triangle. After a few thumps, the triangle was defeated, and my beetle friend had one kill to his name. I was thirsty for more.
Over many more stages I learned the mechanics of the game, traveling through the strange dimension, until I was met with daunting music, and suddenly I was greeted by the main boss of the game: a huge face with piercing, glowing eyes, and an open mouth.
Honestly, it’s an intimidating design. But my beetle friend charged on unrelentingly. Using my skills I’d developed over the course of the level and of course numerous thumps, I chipped away at the boss and emerged victorious. At this point I felt unstoppable, a one beetle army easily steamrolling through these imposing reality-breaking beings. This wouldn’t last long.
By level 4, I had a decent number of stages under my belt and had learned more mechanics, including flying over obstacles with my beetle friends little wings. However, I was about to reach the point life really became difficult.
Up until this point, my beetle had been running along one linear path, however with level 4 multiple tracks are introduced which the beetle had to switch between.
This is when my progress ground to a halt. I could not get my head around these multiple tracks, and my beetle suffered several unfortunate deaths in the process. I was near my breaking point with the game, so I decided to go back to the previous levels for practice, making sure to get S rank on each of them.
I was now prepared for this challenge. I couldn’t see the beetle’s face, but I’m sure it had a look of determination. After multiple attempts and multiple instances of smashing my poor beetle’s face into a wall, the multiple tracks were becoming familiar. My beetle was elegantly gliding between obstacles, flying and thumping through the stages, eventually smashing through the main boss, who seemed to be changing…
The Finish Line
By the final boss, the game had well and truly ramped up with difficulty. My beetle was running along faster than ever, and the obstacles were plentiful. Yet eventually I was met with the final boss, or what I assumed to be the final boss. And at this point, the boss had turned from mildly terrifying to something I see when I close my eyes every night.
As usual yet with a lot more difficulty, I thumped my way through this boss for the last time. But the fight wasn’t over yet, as I entered into the mouth of the boss, where time itself seemed to be breaking down as my beetle kept on slowing down and speeding up randomly, which made the already challenging gameplay that bit more awkward.
It was after this I was met with the true final boss of this game: some pyramids?
Fortunately, these pyramids were susceptible to the same thumping action I had defeated everyone else with, though with time itself in flux this was more difficult. Yet they were no match for the great cosmic beetle. The pyramids were defeated, and my beetle friend could then finish his long journey traveling into the light.
As I said goodbye to my beetle friend, I felt a pang of sadness. This game, with all its weirdness and unfair difficulty, had well and truly won me over despite my lack of interest in rhythm games. Perhaps it’s the stunning visuals, perhaps the music which guides you by getting you to perform your actions with the beat, perhaps it’s the rewarding feeling you get when you finally finish a level you’ve spent a long time on. Thumper is truly an incredible game and one of my favourites on the platform. I ask that even if you aren’t a rhythm game fan, give it a try if you ever get the chance, and you may end up surprised as I was.
This is just awesome, Spud! I’m feeling so attached to the little beetle friend. 😔
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