A new lightsaber themed VR game could be poised to revive the long dead music themed video game genre. Released by independent game studio Hyperbolic Magnetism, Beat Saber combines the latest in virtual reality technology with a Star Wars inspired twist.
Taking inspiration from rhythm-based games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band, Beat Saber has the player "play" a song as the notes fly before them. Rather than hitting the notes with a special controller based on a guitar, drum or microphone, however, the player literally "hits" the notes, swinging at them with two virtual drumsticks clearly modeled on the lightsabers wielded by the Jedi Knights in the Star Wars films.
A new video on the game's official website showcases the game (see above). It should be noted that the game is not licensed by Lucasfilm Ltd. or Disney, who own the rights to everything relating to Star Wars.
Potential copyright infringement issues aside, it is still uncertain just how successful Beat Sabers is likely to be, despite optimistic declarations that Beat Saber could revive its genre. Both Rock Band and Guitar Hero attempted to reboot their respective franchises for the latest generation of home video game consoles in 2015, with Rock Band 4 and Guitar Hero Live. Despite generally positive reviews from both fans and critics, both games severely undersold their projected sales numbers and there are no new plans for sequels to either game at this time.
Another problem to consider is the availability of compatible virtual reality headsets. While one recent estimate suggest that over six million American households now have access to virtual reality technology, the majority of those households own a Samsung Gear VR, which is not listed among the platforms Beat Saber supports.
Banking on the popularity of Star Wars also seems like a dicey proposition for Hyperbolic Magnetism. The latest Star Wars: Battlefront sequel proved a massive disappointment due to a wide array of bugs and complaints about how bare-bones the release was without spending more money on micro-transactions in-game to unlock more content. The fact that Star Wars themed gimmick games and party games have never sold well historically also bears consideration. Kinect Star Wars - a 2012 release developed for the Xbox 360's hands-free gaming peripheral The Kinect - featured a similar mechanic to Beat Sabers and went down in history as one of the worst video games of all time, Star Wars themed or not.
Beat Saber is scheduled for release sometime in early 2018 for HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and PlayStation VR.