PC Gamer
Why I love

In Why I Love, PC Gamer writers pick an aspect of PC gaming that they love and write about why it's brilliant. Today, Phil explains why Audiosurf works so well with faux-Chinese opera.

This might seem a bit esoteric, even for this column. Bear with me. This is also a recommendation. Not only is playing the song 'Monkey Bee' in Audiosurf a thing that I love; it's a thing that will actively make your life better. At least, the part of your life that involves playing Audiosurf.

I love rhythm games, and Audiosurf is one of the best. (Not the best, but then Gitaroo Man was never released on PC.) It's an odd genre for music fans, because its traditional set-up positions music as an obstacle to overcome. It's an adversarial relationship—at least until you conquer the patterns of the level. Audiosurf works in much the same way. It's a puzzle game; a high-speed match-three challenge. Pick any song, and the algorithm will analyse it—laying out blocks, and adding twists, turns and elevation to a procedurally generated track.

My favourite mode is Mono. It's the simplest, purest form of the game. Rather than multiple colours to match, the track is littered with coloured and grey blocks. Pick up the colour ones; avoid the greys. It's still adversarial, but it gives an obvious throughline to follow. It's the rhythm game equivalent of perfectly performing the Macarena at your school disco, in the hope that the other kids would recognise you as a slightly less worthless human being.

Monkey Bee is a song by Damon Albarn, from the album Monkey: Journey to the West. It is the soundtrack to a Chinese-style pop-rock opera—a retelling of the classic Journey to the West, but with Jamie Hewlett and electro. It is possibly the most Damon Albarn thing that has ever happened, and you would be forgiven for not wanting anything to do with it. But, and here's the thing, Monkey Bee is Audiosurf's greatest level. Or it's up there with the very best at least, and that's because it syncs perfectly with the structure of the game.

This is what a song usually looks like in Audiosurf:

This is what Monkey Bee looks like:

Through sheer chance, Audiosurf's algorithm creates a sublime layout. There are three clear, easily defined sections. Each provides a distinct and interesting challenge, and they all fit together to create a naturally escalating challenge.

BIE NA MUO XIAO QI MA

The first section is a slow climb to the second act. It's the least interesting of the three parts, and plays out much like any Mono level. Yes, there is a challenge in collecting all the coloured blocks—with some sandwiched between two greys. The problem is the distribution, which is spread out in such a way that you'll never earn a match greater than three or four blocks.

It's not a great start, but it builds the anticipation. In Audiosurf, the graph showing the altitude of the track is a permanent fixture of the top-left corner. Here, you are moving inexorably towards something different—a feeling that's heightened if you already know how good the second part is.

WU KONG GONG XI

On the graph, this section looks level. It isn't. It undulates to the rhythm of the two-step percussive sting at the end of each line. Each bump contains a coloured block, and they're perfectly spaced to be chained across the 60-second act.

This feels great. Get it right, and you can fill your hopper with colour—even reaching a full match-21 if the positioning falls in your favour. It's a big, joyous reward; even as the building, urgent guitar riff warns that everything is about to go south.

WEI HE PO HOU JING SHAN BU ZOU

Act three. Fast. Reactive. Panicked.

In Audiosurf, colour represents intensity. The first section is cool—filled with blues and purples. The second is green and yellow. The third, entirely orange and red. Of all the songs I've tried in the game, this is extremely rare. Usually, you'll dip into short, infrequent bursts of red. Here, it's a smooth, long fall.

It's amazing, entirely accidental level design. It's the perfect escalation; easing you in, lulling you into false security before pulling the rug and sending you fighting for your life. Plunging down into the red zone is thrilling. If you don't "get" music, this level is an excellent visual analogy of how it can feel for the people who do.

Another of Audiosurf's tricks is to email you when someone beats your high score. As a Mono mode player, this was a rarity. All of the game's modes co-exist on each song's leaderboard, and the other modes were inevitably more suited to point chasing. But for a brief moment, about five years ago, there was a fearsome battle for Monkey Bee's top spot—one fought between a community aware that Ironman Ninja Mono was the way to play the game.

That was until some jerk came along and set the top score on Eraser Elite, thus ruining all of our fun.

Even though the score battle has long since ended, it's still a remarkable, unexpected level. I recommend tracking down the song, just to give it a go. Alternatively, here's a video of the level that mysteriously appeared on the internet today. No-one tell Damon Albarn.

PC Gamer
Symphony


This week s new Humble Weekly Sale features a bundle devoted to rhythm games. The funkiest of gamers by which I mean, anyone who can actually bob their head in time and carry a tune will appreciate the sick beats on sale in the form of Symphone, Sequence, and Bit Trip Runner. I ve now used up all of the music-related slang I know, so we can all move on.

Following the standard Humble model, you can name your price for the basic three-game bundle (though you must pay more than $1 to get Steam keys). For $6 or more, you will also get Audiosurf, Beat Hazard Ultra, and Retro/Grade. Of the six games, four of them come with their own soundtracks. Symphony, Audiosurf, and Beat Hazard Ultra also let you play with levels generated by your own music collection.

Check out the Humble Weekly Sale before it ends on Wednesday next week. You can also follow Humble Bundle on Twitter to keep up with future deals.
PC Gamer
Audiosurf 2


It's been over five years since the release of the first Audiosurf, and in that time, I have managed to retain my throne as Elite Champion of Half Man Half Biscuit's Took Problem Chimp To Ideal Home Show. Sure, I appear to be the only one to have played it on the game's highest difficulty mode, but that hardly matters. With the release of Audiosurf 2, I feel we should spiritually declare a lockdown of the original's leaderboards, thus crowning me undefeated.

That release is due later today when the game will appear on Steam Early Access, as confirmed by creator Dylan Fitterer.

As with its predecessor, Audiosurf 2 will generate its levels from the bumpin' and grindin' of your music collection. Along with the return of various classic modes, this release will also include wakeboarding, in which you must anticipate each track as you're pulled along by two boats. Other modes will be added at a later date, both officially and through the Steam Workshop support.

When it goes live, Audiosurf 2 will be available through Steam.
PC Gamer
Audiosurf 2


The trippy, swirling, laser light show that was Audiosurf might have eaten several hundred hours of your time in the five years since its release; I know I've conducted a fair few experiments to try and determine which of my favorite bands produced the noodliest driving tracks. Still, we mastered all the Elite vehicles long ago and have slammed, teeth-first, into enough grey blocks that we're beginning to tire of the original PC rhythm-racer. Cue Audiosurf 2, which releases—sorta—next month.

According to the official website, Audiosurf 2 will rev into Steam via its Early Access Program in September. A trailer was revealed earlier this year for the series' next entry (which was going by the name Audiosurf Air back then), revealing that dangerous bubbles would be joining redesigned blocks in an explosion of color, blinding lights, and mysterious audience whoopage.

There are no details on pricing just yet. I only have one plea, should the Audiosurf Gods (that'd be single developer Dylan Fritterer) be listening—Spotify integration. I'm guessing few people still store gigabytes of music on their hard drives, and being able to stream virtually any song known to the civilized world would make Audiosurf 2 an absolute insta-purchase.
PC Gamer
audiosurf air


The original Audiosurf was a rather lovely racing/rhythm game mashup that generated tracks based on your music collection. The heart of the game lay in its global high score table, and in challenging your friends to beat your score on, say, Britney Spears' Toxic - but more likely Jonathan Coulton's Still Alive, which came bundled with the game. It's been a long time coming, but its sequel Audiosurf Air appears to be nearing its vague "2013" release, as the first gameplay video has emerged blinking into the world. As you can see, it's a huge leap forward from the original in terms of visual clout, Tron-ness, and actually featuring surfing, with a weird hoversurfboard-ski-thing replacing Audiosurf's Wipeout-esque hoverships.

The other new thing on show in this teaser trailer is SSX-style air flips and tricks, with creator Dylan Fitterer promising that "in Audiosurf Air you can fly up into the feeling of your music and soar. So get ready to twist, turn, and hear the crowd roar--and grab a sweater 'cause goosebumps are guaranteed." Does it have to be a sweater? Will a hoodie do?

Aaaaaand that's pretty much all we know about Audiosurf Air, apart from the 2013 release date. Now here's that trippy, Tronny trailer:

PC Gamer
Steam potato sack sale


Come with me, back into the distant past. Don't mind that wibbly blurry effect and that "WooOOoOOooOO" noise, that's just what happens when you go back in time. We're almost there. All you have to do is click this link and make the transition to April 4 2011!

I've always wanted to say that. If you just took the trip, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. You'll also have a good idea as to whether or not you'd like to purchase the games going in the return of the potato sack sale on Steam.
PC Gamer

The indie developers involved in the potato sack sale say that they were given "free reign" to design the ARG, as well as "access to any IP we wanted." Edge have been catching up with the potato sack developers to find out exactly how the enormous ARG came together.



Audiosurf creator Dylan Fitterer explains how Valve initiated the ARG. “Valve invited a bunch of us indie developers to come out last December for a ‘Cross Game Design Event. It was a bit mysterious, but definitely sounded like fun."

“Jeep coordinated with us most closely, but Gabe kicked it all off. He asked us to work with them in creating an event that put launching Portal 2 into the community’s hands. We were given free rein to design it and were also given access to any IP we wanted.”

Dejobaan president Ichiro Lambe “It felt very natural. Valve gave us a framework and said: ‘You know all about GLaDOS. Now, she wants us to break out into the world. Go make it happen.’"

Fitterer explains that the number of people playing Audiosurf during the ARG jumped from 300 a day to 6000 a day. There's no news yet on the number of potato sack games sold during the ARG. Edge's full featureon the ARG is set to arrive tomorrow.
PC Gamer
Portal 2 - bouncy blue turrets
The indie developers involved in the potato sack sale say that they were given "free reign" to design the ARG, as well as "access to any IP we wanted." Edge have been catching up with the potato sack developers to find out exactly how the enormous ARG came together.



Audiosurf creator Dylan Fitterer explains how Valve initiated the ARG. “Valve invited a bunch of us indie developers to come out last December for a ‘Cross Game Design Event. It was a bit mysterious, but definitely sounded like fun."

“Jeep coordinated with us most closely, but Gabe kicked it all off. He asked us to work with them in creating an event that put launching Portal 2 into the community’s hands. We were given free rein to design it and were also given access to any IP we wanted.”

Dejobaan president Ichiro Lambe “It felt very natural. Valve gave us a framework and said: ‘You know all about GLaDOS. Now, she wants us to break out into the world. Go make it happen.’"

Fitterer explains that the number of people playing Audiosurf during the ARG jumped from 300 a day to 6000 a day. There's no news yet on the number of potato sack games sold during the ARG. Edge's full featureon the ARG is set to arrive tomorrow.
PC Gamer

When we took an overview of the remarkable happenings in the potato sack ARG yesterday, the trail was going cold, and it looked as though things were winding down. For a few hours at least, they were, then it all kicked off again. New updates have added Portal 2 themed levels to many of the games in the potato sack sale. The voice of Glados has started appearing in menu screens and secret messages, and to top it all, Bit.Trip Beat creators, Gaijin, dropped a heavy hint that completing the ARG could cause Portal 2 to be released early.

Adding fuel to that theory, today Portal 2 became available to pre-load through Steam. We've collected videos and screenshots of the new Portal 2 themed levels from potato sack sale below.

The Ball



The Ball gets a good extra hour of free Portal 2 levels, including one devoted to bowling over Aperture Science turrets. The team have done a great job of recreating Portal 2's assets in the Unreal 3 engine.
 

Audiosurf



The Portal 2 update in Audiosurf replaces your ship with a portal gun, and adds companion cube blocks to the courses. The best update is the addition of new Portal 2 songs like the one in the video above. After a couple of listens, it really gets stuck in the brain.
 

Bit.Trip Beat



Glados has well and truly invaded Bit.Trip Beat with this difficult new level. Gaijin hinted in their latest blog post that more ARG clues will be revealed to those who achieve perfect completions of the new levels.
 
 
AaAaAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity



Glados has a lot to say about falling off tall objects after the latest Portal 2 update to A Reckless Disregard for Gravity. Creators Dejobaan also created a brilliant overview of the progress of the ARG so far, ending with Glados' invasion of the potato sack games.
 

RUSH



What better way to combine Portal 2 with Rush than to add companion cubes? It's almost as cute as the Portal 2 level in Toki Tori below.

Toki Tori



Toki Tori's levels provided plenty of useful clues during the ARG. Their silhouettes formed decipherable codes that helped to unlock the passwords for the Aperture Science login screens. The new level has Glados hanging in the background, watching your every move.
 

Killing Floor

The new Killing Floor map has you fending off waves of zombies in a massive new Aperture Science map. The familiar human vendors have been replaced by a robot that looks just like one of Glados' personality spheres. It looks great, too, with its overgrown test chambers and giant buttons. You'll find their official screens of the new map below.

The potato sack sale is still going, offering 13 great indie titles at 75% off. You can buy each one individually for 50% off while the offer lasts. Head over to Steam to take advantage of the deal













PC Gamer

The Potato Sack sale kicked off over the weekend on Steam. The sale knocks 50% off 13 indie games, including Super Meat Boy, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Killing Floor and more. The whole bundle is 75% off, and you'll get a potato hat in Team Fortress 2.

This isn't just an ordinary sale, thought. There's something weird and potato related happening. Several games in the potato pack have received some unusual updates. Egyptian hieroglyphics have been found in Amnesia, potato references have been found in Defence Grid: The Awakening, and plugging a Razer peripheral in to Kick It! will trigger one of fifteen potato related phrases like this one "never trust a potato...they have eyes everywhere. They are always listening...we never went to space! SPUDnik was a Russet Conspiracy!" What the spud is going on?

VG247 note that a wiki has been set up to collect the mounting clues, though nobody has any idea where any of it is leading. Valve revealed Portal 2 through a series of encoded images and radio messages patched into Portal 1. Could there be another reveal on the cards, or is it all an elaborate, long running April fools hoax?

Here's a list of the games that are part of the potato sack sale. Head over to Steam to take advantage of the deals. There's no end date for the sale yet.

1... 2... 3... KICK IT!
AaAaAA!!! - A Reckless Disregard for Gravity
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
AudioSurf
BIT.TRIP BEAT
Cogs
Defense Grid: The Awakening
Killing Floor
RUSH
Super Meat Boy
The Ball
The Wonderful End of the World
Toki Tori

 
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