Amplitude
Developer(s)Harmonix
Publisher(s)Sony Computer Entertainment
Director(s)Greg LoPiccolo
Producer(s)Tracy Rosenthal-Newsom
Daniel Sussman
Programmer(s)Eran Egozy
Eric Malafeew
Platform(s)PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4
ReleasePlayStation 2
  • NA: March 24, 2003
  • EU: September 26, 2003
November 4, 2003 (P.O.D. Special Edition)[1]
Genre(s)Music
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Amplitude is a music video game developed by Harmonix for the PlayStation 2. It is the sequel to Frequency. The game was released in 2003 for North America on March 24 and for Europe on September 26.

In Amplitude the player controls a beat blaster ship across a lane of six tracks, each track representing a musical instrument and containing note gems that the player shoots at in time with the music. The player earns points for accurate playing and increases their scoring multiplier by playing a series of flawless sequences; the player loses energy by missing too many notes and can end the song prematurely if they run out of energy. Compared to the original Frequency which used more electronica and trance music, Amplitude included additional pop rock songs in its soundtrack.

The game was a critical but not a financial success, and would lead Harmonix to become a major studio in the development of music games. In 2014, Harmonix successfully offered a Kickstarter campaign to raise over $840,000 in funds to build a new Amplitude game for PlayStation 3 and 4 consoles; the remake was released in January 2016.

Gameplay

In Amplitude, the player controls a ship (referred to as a "Beat Blaster") moving down a path of varying shapes and lengths, containing up to six tracks. Each color-coded track corresponds to a different aspect of the song, such as percussion, synth, bass, or vocals, and contains a sequence of notes. As the player hits buttons corresponding to the note placement on the track, the notes activate a small portion of the track. If the player successfully activates enough notes in sequence, the track is "captured" and the section will play automatically for a number of bars, freeing the player to capture another section.

The object of the game is to capture a sufficient number of sections to reach the end of the song. If the player continually misses notes, an energy meter empties until the game is over.

There are several different powerups available to the player to make gameplay easier. Powerups are gained by activating a series of specially shaped and colored notes. Such powerups allow immediate capturing of tracks, doubling of points scored, slowing down the speed of play, and jumping into freestyle mode (which allows the player to riff to the music, gaining points without the difficulty of playing predefined tracks).

Modes

Amplitude offers four different modes of play: single player game, remix, multiplayer and online.

In single player, the object is to unlock and complete all of the songs. There are four levels of gameplay difficulty: Mellow, Normal, Brutal, and Insane. Certain songs are only available to play on harder difficulty settings. Often the player is rewarded with pieces to construct and customize their "FreQ" avatar.

The remix mode in Amplitude is much like the one in Frequency. The player may place notes to every section of the song (except the vocal section) in whatever patterns they so choose, creating a unique version of the song. The effects (chorus, delay, etc.) and tempo of the song are also controllable. Finished remixes are available for gameplay in both single player and multiplayer modes.

Multiplayer mode offers three distinct modes: a typical gameplay mode, a head-to-head mode and a remix mode. The main multiplayer mode offers up to four players simultaneous gameplay through any of the unlocked songs. The head-to-head mode features Simon says-esque gameplay between two players, in which the players alternate creating riffs and then attempting to play them back. The remix mode is identical to the single player remix mode, but with the participation of more players.

Online mode offered multiplayer play with an internet connection. Sony of America shutdown the online Amplitude servers on February 26, 2007, with the online servers in the European version of the game continuing to function until late 2011.[2]

Songs

There are 26 songs in Amplitude, the majority of which are tracks by popular music artists, with genres ranging from electronica and dance to hip hop and alternative rock. Some of the tracks, however, were produced "in-house" specifically for Amplitude. For example, Kasson Crooker, who served as the musical director for the game, contributed the songs "Cool Baby", "Synthesized", "Robot Rockerz" and "Spaztik", as well as "Super Sprøde" as performed by his band Freezepop.

The following is a list of artists who contributed songs to the game, with a corresponding song title, in order of gameplay. The fourth song in each section is a "boss" song while the fifth is an unlockable bonus song. "Spaztik" is unlockable only in the Insane difficulty.

Song title Artist Original composition for game? Tier
"Boom (The Crystal Method Mix)" P.O.D. vs. T.C.M. No 1. Neotropolis
"Cherry Lips" Garbage No 1. Neotropolis
"Baseline" Quarashi No 1. Neotropolis
"Shades of Blue" Chris Child featuring Melissa Kaplan Yes 1. Neotropolis
"Uptown Saturday Night" Logan 7 No 1. Neotropolis
"King of Rock (X-Ecutioners Remix)" Run-DMC Yes 2. Beat Factory
"Urban Tumbleweed" The Baldwin Brothers No 2. Beat Factory
"Dope Nose" Weezer No 2. Beat Factory
"Everyone Says 'Hi' (Metro Remix)" David Bowie Yes 2. Beat Factory
"Super-Sprøde" Freezepop Yes 2. Beat Factory
"Respect" Pink No 3. Metaclouds
"M-80 (Explosive Energy Movement)" Papa Roach No 3. Metaclouds
"What's Going On" Mekon with Roxanne Shante No 3. Metaclouds
"Rockit (2.002 Remix)" Herbie Hancock with Mixmaster Mike, Grand Mixer DXT, Rob Swift, Q*Bert, Babu, Faust, Shortee No 3. Metaclouds
"Rockstar" The Production Club Yes 3. Metaclouds
"Cool Baby" DJ HMX with Plural Yes 4. Elektro Kore
"Kimosabe" BT with Wildchild No 4. Elektro Kore
"Nitro Narcosis" Manchild Yes 4. Elektro Kore
"I Am Hated" Slipknot No 4. Elektro Kore
"Push" Game Boyz Yes 4. Elektro Kore
"The Rock Show" Blink-182 No 5. Blastlands
"Sub Culture (Dieselboy + Kaos Rock Remix)" Styles of Beyond No 5. Blastlands
"Out the Box" Akrobatik vs. Symbion Project Yes 5. Blastlands
"Synthesized" Symbion Project Yes 5. Blastlands
"Robot Rockerz" Komputer Kontroller Yes 5. Blastlands
"Spaztik" Cosmonaut Zero Yes 5. Blastlands

Development

Amplitude is the sequel to Harmonix's previous title, Frequency, released in 2001. Frequency was funded and published by Sony, and while not a commercial success, was considered by Harmonix's Ryan Lesser as the game that helped to give Harmonix a positive reputation in the game industry.[3] Sony funded and published the game's sequel.[3]

In making the sequel, the team considered lessons they learned from Frequency to make Amplitude more enjoyable. One aspect was the "tunnel" approach they used in Frequency; this was borne out from trying to create a cyberspace-like environment based on concepts from the movie Tron as to help create a synaesthesia for the player. However, on reflection, they found this tunnel to be limiting and claustrophobic; further, in testing an initial prototype for Amplitude, they found that when they left the tunnel, the experience of seeing the tunnel from the outside inspired the idea of vaster landscapes. The tunnel approach also limited an effective means for local multiplayer. This prompted the team to change from the tunnel to a spread-out track for Amplitude.[4] The flatter track enabled players to have a better concept of where they were on the instrument spread, though the decision was criticized by fans of FreQuency.

The second factor they considered was that both Frequency and Amplitude, published at a time where most video game coverage was based on print media, did not come off clearly in static screenshots. The screens appeared confusing and had little personality to them, according to Lesser. They came up with the idea of the "FreQ", an avatar that would be on-screen, performing with the music, as to help create some personality with the game; the FreQs would also help to emphasise the player-vs-player nature during multi-player.[4]

Reception

Amplitude sold more copies than its predecessor, Frequency, but it wasn't considered a financial success for Harmonix.[3] The game received "favorable" reviews according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.[5] GameSpot named it the best PlayStation 2 game of March 2003.[20]

The game won the award for "Best Game No One Played" in GameSpot's Best and Worst of 2003 Awards.[21]

Remake

Main article: Amplitude (2016 video game)

A remake for the game was released for PlayStation 4 in January 2016, and for PlayStation 3 in April 2016.[22]

References

  1. ^ a b Perry, Douglass C. (November 10, 2003). "Amplitude: P.O.D. Special Addition [sic]". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved February 24, 2020.}
  2. ^ Crecente, Brian (February 16, 2007). "Amplitude Online Server Getting Axed". Kotaku. Gawker Media. Archived from the original on February 19, 2007.
  3. ^ a b c Alexander, Leigh (May 19, 2014). "Amid a struggling Kickstarter, Harmonix reflects on Amplitude". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  4. ^ a b "Progressive Trance: The Past and Possible Future of Amplitude". Dead End Thrills. May 19, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Amplitude for PlayStation 2 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  6. ^ Marriott, Scott Alan. "Amplitude - Review". AllGame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on November 14, 2014. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  7. ^ Edge staff (June 2003). "Amplitude (PS2)". Edge. No. 124. Future plc. p. 92.
  8. ^ EGM staff (May 2003). "Amplitude". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 166. Ziff Davis. p. 113. Archived from the original on January 8, 2004. Retrieved April 11, 2010.
  9. ^ Bramwell, Tom (September 16, 2003). "Amplitude". Eurogamer. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on January 16, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  10. ^ Brogger, Kristian (May 2003). "Amplitude (PS2)". Game Informer. No. 121. GameStop. p. 83. Archived from the original on June 22, 2008. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  11. ^ Liu, Johnny (April 20, 2003). "Amplitude Review (PS2)". Game Revolution. CraveOnline. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  12. ^ Star Dingo (March 25, 2003). "Amplitude Review for PS2 on GamePro.com". Archived from the original on February 9, 2005. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  13. ^ Davis, Ryan (March 26, 2003). "Amplitude Review (PS2)". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  14. ^ Meston, Zach (March 24, 2003). "GameSpy: Amplitude". GameSpy. IGN Entertainment. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  15. ^ Watkins, Rob (April 2, 2003). "Amplitude - PS2 - Review". GameZone. Archived from the original on October 6, 2008. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  16. ^ Perry, Douglass C. (March 24, 2003). "Amplitude (PS2)". IGN. Ziff Davis. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  17. ^ "Amplitude". Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. No. 68. Ziff Davis. May 2003. p. 90. Archived from the original on January 19, 2004. Retrieved February 24, 2020.
  18. ^ Saltzman, Marc (April 8, 2003). "'Amplitude' scores with fans of music". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Gannett Company. Archived from the original on October 1, 2007. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  19. ^ Keighley, Geoff (March 21, 2003). "Inhuman Beat Box (Amplitude Review)". Entertainment Weekly. No. 701. Time Inc. p. 121. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  20. ^ The Editors of GameSpot (April 5, 2003). "GameSpot's Month in Review: March 2003". GameSpot. Archived from the original on January 23, 2005.
  21. ^ "Best and Worst of 2003: Best Game No One Played (Winner)". GameSpot. CNET. Archived from the original on July 10, 2004. Retrieved February 23, 2020.
  22. ^ Clements, Ryan (April 3, 2016). "The Drop: New PlayStation Games for 4/5/2016". PlayStation Blog. Sony Interactive Entertainment. Retrieved April 5, 2016.