This article was originally written for GamerTimeUK in December 2016. However, that site no longer exists so it’s found a new home here.
Stereo Aereo by The Stonebot Studio is a rhythm action game. You control a spaceship moving through lanes of traffic, blasting police bots and generally trying to escape trouble so you can reach a gig on the other side of the galaxy. It’s stuffed full of 80’s themed one-liners, but don’t let the words ‘smooth’ and ‘bogus’ being repeated a dozen times a song put you off.
I think ‘set phasers to shred’ may be one of my new favourite lines from a game. However, that is probably the only good line in Stereo Aereo. The characters, story and all the talking parts are incredibly grating. Not only do they constantly interrupt the amazing song you might be playing with a few pithy words, but it is also often the same few words over and over. Eugh! There is also no way to turn them off either. This is marginally acceptable in the story mode, but I was hoping arcade mode would just be me, the road and the tunes. But no, I’ve got to share a space car with some annoying children instead.
Negatives aside, I like Stereo Aereo. The soundtrack is a blast. It’s a great blend of 80’s inspired rock and electro. No song falls flat and they are all enjoyable listens. You control one of the three characters’ spaceships and by pressing buttons in either direction or using a controller you move from lane to lane. Move at the last second and in time to the rhythm of the song and you’ll stack up bonus points and build a combo. If you get your timing wrong and you’ll likely crash into some oncoming traffic. Crash enough times in quick succession and you’ll love the track and need to start again.
One of the best bits in Stereo Aereo is the fact that while pressing left and right in time to a song isn’t hugely interesting, the layout and density of the spacecraft heading towards you are. The space motorway is only 5 lanes wide, so you need to manage to avoid cars and do it to the rhythm of the song to maximise your points. This makes the game so much more about anticipating where you need to go next and more than just a regular rhythm game.
Finally, there are the police. At certain points on each track, you’ll encounter the police for one reason or another. They are going to shoot at you. It’s alright though because you can shoot back at them. What I mean is you can shoot their bullets. And again, shooting these in rhythm to the song nabs you bonus points, but you frequently can’t hit them all so positioning is really important.
By mixing each of these elements Stereo Aereo becomes an astounding rhythm action game. You want to avoid cars, but you also want to push your luck and get some bonus points. You want to not get hit by the police’s guns but again want some points. You know that if you press buttons in rhythm to the song it’ll help you to manoeuvre this minefield of space trucks and drones, but you aren’t sure which way to move. Should you go to the right? Or will that cause you to crash into a space 4×4? Or should you move 2 lanes to the left where you might crash into a space police bullet? It’s these tiny snap decisions that make Stereo Aereo so enjoyable.
Stereo Aereo is a great example of how music can enhance a game. This could easily have been an enjoyable game without the rhythm aspect, but this aspect elevates the experience. Admittedly the characters make you want to top yourself sometimes, but it’s the space 80’s so chillout.
Thanks for reading. If you want to check out some of our other reviews, then head over here for one about the visual novel Coffee Talk or over there for our take on the 2019 MediEvil remake.
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