MyoBeatz is a muscle-based rhythm game by PlayBionic which is intended for neuromuscular prosthesis training, that is, it’s meant to assist someone with a prosthetic limb with exercises that will help them continue to practice acclimating to and improving control over the artificial limb.
To start, a futuristic bracelet was slipped onto my forearm and I was directed to make fists and move my wrist, so the program would know how to read my movements. The directions were simple: an arrow to the right indicated I bend my hand forward, an arrow to the left indicated I bend it the other way, and two arrows together meant I had to splay my hand with the palm flat. Then I got to pick my song, I chose ACDC’s “Back in Black.”
It played pretty much as you would expect a rhythm game to. It followed the beat and tune of the song in exactly the way someone humming it might. A nice change from many rhythm games is that the screen is very simple, with a solid, dark background with tumescent blue icons that stand out easily and are easy n the eyes. It’s very easy to focus on your target. The arrows also scroll up instead of down—for whatever reason, the Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero models where the notes come down to you are extremely difficult for me to follow and time. Part of it is that I’m bad at rhythm games, I won’t lie about that, but the change in direction really did make this game easier for me to follow and track.
There were also clear breaks in the action. There were two moments when the song goes totally instrumental and the game actually tells you that you can relax for a few seconds. That’s nice—the movement was a bit tough on my wrist, and it would obviously be beneficial for its target audience that may need more frequent rests. It also allows a brief moment of mental relaxation.
Ultimately, my score was not very good. Like I said, I’m not very good at rhythm games, but this one was fun to try out because it didn’t have all the moving parts other games in the genre do. I also felt less pressure with this game, thanks to the simplified control scheme and implemented breaks in the song. If I were to try out a rhythm game on my own time, this would be the one I’d pick. The bracelet was also an interesting peripheral, and fit fairly comfortably on my forearm, though I do wonder if it is available in different sizes for different age groups and body types.
MyoBeatz was nominated for the Most Innovative [game of the year] award at this year’s Games For Change Festival. It is also currently undergoing clinical trials to test its success as a neuromuscular prosthesis training device, but has been available to the general public since May of this year. According to Games For Change’s site, the game is free, and is available for Android and Biofeedback Sensor.