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Video Game Review: Beaterator

Define The Meaning have partnered with several video game companies in order to bring you awesome video game news in the upcoming months. The first company we partnered with is Rockstar, the company that brought you the undeniable Grand Theft Auto series. For our first review, we gave chiptune artist Facundo Rockstar’s Beaterator, a music generator game Rockstar created with producer Timbaland. Enjoy!

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Rockstar and Timbaland released Beaterator for the Sony PSP. A Step Sequencer based program for musicians on the go. It is essentially what seems like a watered down, very basic version of FruityLoops that you can just pop into your PSP (instead of dragging a bulky laptop everywhere you go). The program has a few different modes, including a game mode, and more importantly has the ability to import your own wav clips as samples.

Anyone familiar with the chiptune community knows all about the “Timbaland drama” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timbaland_plagiarism_controversy) by now and will most likely be turned off by the sole existance of this game. I went beyond that, looked the other way, and gave this thing a shot.

I’ve been making music using older gaming consoles since 2005 and from my perspective, I wouldn’t use Beaterator on the PSP for my music. I prefer my GameBoy and LSDJ (I feel more comfortable with its tracker layout). Needless to say, I don’t find this program completely useless. I tinkered around with some of the pre-made samples/loops and was able to create a song quickly. Nothing too fancy, nothing too complicated. Aside from his (Timbaland) pre made loops, you can make your own loops, with your own pre-loaded sounds.

I have not seen any other step sequencers for PSP – maybe they’re out there as homebrew apps (and if that’s the case, I’d suggest going with Piggy Tracker instead – a free sample based music tracker created by Mark Nostromo) (http://www.littlegptracker.com). For being an actual release (not a homebrew program), Rockstar’s Beaterator is not bad for what it is. Facundo approves.

One more thing that I found VERY interesting is that Rockstar held a competition to see who could compose the best track using the Beaterator software. They announced the winner on January 8th, 2010 and it just happened to be Seattle’s own Leeni (www.leeni.us), who performed at this year’s Blip Festival (www.blipfestival.org) which is a yearly chiptunes mulitple day event with artists performing from all over the world. Congratulations Leeni for looking past the drama, and crating a song awesome enough to take this competition! -FACUNDO CASTRO

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