Old School Musical is a retro rhythm game, that has a large chip-tune soundtrack and a weird but funny story. You use the face buttons and shoulder triggers to hit the notes at the correct timing, which directly correlate to your HP bar. Play well? it stays full and green. Slip up? you’ll start losing HP and make your way towards a game over. There are over 50 songs to play, and are scattered throughout the story mode with varying degrees of success. The entire game makes references to and pays homage to games of the past, all while keeping its own unique charm.

Positives

+ The soundtrack is incredible, and I can’t believe they managed to squeeze in 50 songs. If you’re a fan of retro/chip-tune style music, then you’ll no doubt enjoy the rhythm aspect of the game.

+ The amount of “old school” content is abundant. Each story level focus on a different game, from the old TMNT games, Mega Man, Metal Slug, etc. It adds a ton of charm to the game, but isn’t without its issues.

+ The way the story mode integrates the music is mostly well done, and a rhythm game featuring a true story mode is welcome. It’s genuinely funny in some moments.

+ Beating the story mode unlocks some great post-game content that made the purchase feel worth it alone. It adds some new mechanics that would have been welcome in the regular mode.

Negatives

As welcome as the story mode is, it does have some flaws. First, it can take too long in between songs. This fixes itself about halfway through, but is annoying early on. There are also a handful of moments where the music doesn’t match up with the game it’s trying to honor. I think this was a huge missed opportunity.

The story happens in the background while you play through the songs. Notes make their way to the middle of the screen while the action takes place in the background. This can be very distracting, and I was disappointed that the arcade mode didn’t remove this.

The controls themselves are fine, but the triggers never seemed to get me a “perfect” the same way the buttons did. There is also no reward for playing better besides not dying. Lastly, OSM would have been better off with a difficulty somewhere in the middle of Normal and Hard.

Conclusion

Old School Musical is a fun rhythm game, and the addition of a story mode absolutely makes it stand out in the genre. However, for this step forward, a couple of decisions forces it to take two back. The songs not matching the retro game it’s mimicking is a big miss, and the distracting background may make it too busy for some players. Overall, the music propels the game forward and is downright awesome. If you like the genre, you’ll like the game… although, the difficulty balance may catch you off guard.

Score – 6.5/10

 

*Reviewer spent 2-3 hours completing the story mode, and a couple more with the post-game content and arcade mode.

Achievements/Trophies - None.
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Written by Shawn Ryan

I've been gaming for almost 30 years, with a vast array of knowledge (and Gamerscore) under my belt. I play everything, and tend to find the good even in bad games. There will never be a game better than The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

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