VH1’s Downbeat is its debut into the land of casual games. Now, it’s not bad. Actually, it’s pretty good. What I have at home is a computer that is capable of running Half-Life 2 at a steady framerate, runs Photshop regularly, and really, a computer that isn’t all that out of date. For casual games, it’s a pretty standard web/work computer. This game lags on it.

Now, lagging may be a little bit of a way of life in some games. Sure, card games, match-3s, object hunting, time management games – these can all lag a little with no repercussions. A rhythm game? NOT A CHANCE. A rhythm game, if it even lags a little, makes the game anywhere from a little bit annoying to downright unplayable. On the side of annoying, there’s pretty much no way of getting a perfect score, or even get all the trophies. On the side of unplayable, it lags so much that none of the mouseclicks register properly and the levels would fail within a minute.

On the upside, Downbeat has some really good tunes: Straight Up, Material Girl, Our House, to name a few. Once a song is unlocked in story mode, you can go on to playing them in freeplay mode. As far as the rhythm part, it’s pretty accurate in making you click on certain beats that are representative of the game as well as throwing in a “match-3” aspect. Really though, most of the them you’d just be busy matching the colors.

The only really comparable game would be Elite Beat Agents on the Nintendo DS. It’s a whole lot of fun, but only when I only half look at the screen and half listen to my beats. Each one of clicks seem to register just fine, but the beat that comes from the game comes out just a little bit late. Sometimes the visual cues would lag a little and it would seem like all my beats are late but worked for the game. Downbeat does a great job of separating the bars so that you’d be clicking all over the screen before you know it.

If you have a good sense of rhythm and danced in the 80’s or just enjoy retro music, this game is for you. Download the trial and see how it runs on your computer. If it does better than mine, it’s definitely a keeper. Now to save myself enough to get a new computer…

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