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Linux Game Review: Beat Hazard Ultra

I've been a Linux user for going on twelve years now. It wasn't until a few years ago that I discovered Linux was actually a pretty good platform for gaming too. And with Steam's supporting Linux, it became official: Gaming isn't just for Windows.

On a whim, I picked up a title called Beat Hazard Ultra from Steam, since it's one of the games that runs natively on Linux.



This game is basically the old Asteriods arcade game on ADHD and crack and Red Bull. Everything on the screen pulses and flashes and swirls in time with the music. The faster the music is, the harder and faster and brighter the level is, with more enemies. Even your weapon intensifies with the music. Plus you can use your own music! Which means you can throw on anything from jazz to thrash metal, and the game will change the level depending on the song.

It's also got cool mini-achievements in it, and if you get the Ultra pack like I did, it comes with extra ships and power-ups. Some of them are just crazy.

Of course, the first thing I did was import my entire music collection into Beat Hazard (several thousand songs' worth) and jump right in.


Gameplay is smooth, fun, and easy. I'm using a wired USB Xbox360 controller (which requires the xboxdrv package in Ubuntu). It also supports two player co-op and network play. There's also Survival Mode, and Boss Rush Mode. The mouse controls are pretty straightforward, but I prefer using the twin-stick controller.

To configure a joystick in Steam on Linux, you have to go to "Big Picture" mode and change the button assignments there.


The actual game is pretty tough on Insane or Suicidal modes. At some points, there's so much happening on the screen you'll have a hard time even finding your ship! But oh my gosh, there's so much retro fun. It's a properly done new twist on a game classic. And the entire thing was coded by one guy!

Overall, even though it's not perfect (there were occasional glitches, like the folder select dialog not showing up when the game is fullscreen)  I have to give Beat Hazard 5 stars. It's fun, it's challenging, it's smooth, and it runs natively on Linux. Check it out!

Here's a video of it (NOT mine... still getting my screencap program sorted!) just to give you an idea of gameplay.

Posted by Jeff Hendricks

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