Video Games

Melatonin Is the Pastel Rhythm Heaven-like I’ve Been Dreaming Of

What’s the first mini-game that comes to mind when you hear Rhythm Heaven? Is it a karate man punching a flowerpot? A trio of choir kids singing? Do you pull out hairs from vegetables? For me, it’s a wrestler interview at ringside.

Either way, there’s no denying that rhythmic mini-games have a deep and memorable satisfaction. So I was immediately drawn to melatonin. A new indie release from developer Half Asleep, it successfully replicates (ironically, given the sleepy theme) the serotonin hit from Landing Perfect in the Rhythm Heaven minigame. Set in the mind of a very sleepy person, Melatonin’s Rhythm Game is loosely themed on fantastical dreams of mundane activities such as food, shopping, exercise, work, and games. Soothing audio and visual call-and-response gameplay With a soothing pastel background for gameplay, I miss it from my Nintendo DS days.

And like many of the games we’ve covered in this series, they’re mostly the brainchild of Half Asleep’s founder and sole member, David Huynh. Melatonin is his first game and the first big milestone in a career path he’s just beginning to envision for himself.

Huynh’s educational background is in general design, including graphics, audio, UI, architecture, and production.He’s always been a gamer, but he clearly did not do it I want to get into game design first.

“I had already spent most of my day listening to podcasts, reading reviews, etc., so I intentionally wanted to keep my work away from gaming,” says Huynh. “But at some point I got really burnt out at work and decided who cares if I spend all day focusing on games or whatever. I think it started around the beginning of 2019.”

Making games as a hobby quickly turned into a career when I quit my job near the end of 2019 to work on Melatonin. One of his colleagues quit with him intending to do the art for the project, but dropped out after just a few weeks. Development from sources like the books Blood, Sweat, and Pixels.

Huynh thought Melatonin would take about a year to complete, but it took three.

Melatonin wasn’t always like Rhythm Heaven either. Huynh was new to programming and found that creating simple, short minigames was more within her skill set at the time than creating something continuous and complex. But simply regurgitating Wario Ware didn’t feel original enough, so he started adding elements like Rhythm Heaven to his minigames… that rhythm games are his favorite part So he ditched the WarioWare bit and started working on completely innovating from Rhythm Heaven.

When you hit the peas with a fork, it just feels “smooth” and feels good.

But it wasn’t easy for Huynh. We said in our interview that there are certainly other games that have copied the Rhythm Heaven formula, but they are very few and somewhere in between. Huynh speculates why. Creating a Rhythm game with the level of accuracy that players have come to expect from Rhythm Heaven is extremely difficult. Telling players to time their button presses is one thing, but screen delays, speaker delays, button input delays, and all that within very tight timing windows on a myriad of different machines. Considering is another matter altogether. And even ignoring all that, the fusion of gameplay and music in general makes it difficult to design. Whenever I wanted to, I had to contact the composer of the song in question to have it changed as well. Affects the entire level.

“Some of the songs in the early part of the game, like the shopping level, have the music tuned to match the gameplay,” Huynh said. “But it was really hard to keep it up because it’s hard to be flexible. [If] I need to change this little thing… I need to mix the music again or ask the person I work with to rewrite the section just for this little thing [change]Then I might change it again.

“So it’s hard to make the gameplay feel like it flows with the music. There are more loops.It still feels good and I was really happy.And there were still some levels where even the sound effects were in tune with the notes of the music.But it’s really hard to keep going.”

Of course, Huynh didn’t want Melatonin to be a perfect Rhythm Heaven clone. And one of his biggest problems with Rhythm Heaven was the level of precision players needed to achieve “Perfect!” He loosened the melatonin window a bit and added cues to tell if the player tapped early or late so it could be improved.

But he also took some very specific cues from Rhythm Heaven’s design to create his own game. He says that most games only use his one button input, so the key to his mini-games is to make that one action really, really satisfying. say. Something like whacking a bat and hitting something, or (ala Rhythm Heaven) stabbing a pea with a fork.

“When you hit the peas with a fork, it just feels ‘smooth’. Every time I do these actions, there’s always something like an onomatopoeia in my head. And it’s perfect for sound design.” Towards the end, one thing I always paid attention to was that if you do one action, you have to really pop and feel like there’s some power behind it.”

That’s why I myself fell in love with melatonin instantly from the first level, where the action is the meal. ” munching The sound of pressing buttons on time to eat has stuck with my head and fingers for days. While I was playing on PC, the Switch version was announced at the same time and released today, so I’m doubly excited to continue playing this homage to the still-beloved series on Switch. With enough practice, you can eventually land a perfect.

Rebekah Valentine is a news reporter for IGN. you can find her on her twitter @duck valentine.

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