December 8, 2011 at 5:47 pm

TubeHero Lets Gamers Play an iPhone Videogame With Their Own Music

Are you a recovering Guitar Hero addict? Or if not, do you inexplicably love watching colorful circles slide down virtual strings so you can “strum” (or in this case, tap) away at your “guitar?”

TubeHero, which has already enjoyed tremendous success as a Facebook app, brings everyone’s favorite wannabe-rockstar game to the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch in a stunningly brilliant rendition. To be fair, Tapulous already “brought it,” so to speak, with the popular Tap Tap Revenge series.

But TubeHero takes the concept a step further, in that it lets you play the game using tracks from your own iTunes library — sort of (more on that below).

TubeHero’s gameplay is straightforward and the learning curve is tame. Anyone familiar with the Guitar Hero, Rock Band, or Tap Tap franchises will be immediately familiar with the object of the game and its elegant simplicity. That doesn’t mean it still can’t be strangely addicting.

Small glowing balls roll down your screen, aligning themselves with colored pads at the bottom when you should tap in order to rack up your score and activate score multipliers.

tubehero gameplayAs a Guitar Hero fan myself, I quickly mastered the ‘Easy’ setting and then found myself happily immersed in the Hard’ setting.

Several times, the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Happiness Loves Company” track, which the game recognized from my iPhone, almost made me throw my iPhone down on my desk so I could time my beats correctly. Many balls rolling in at the same time requires the use of two or sometimes three fingers.

According to its creator, JamRT, this is the first video game app that uses music from your iTunes library that is stored on your iOS device (in Apple’s own Music app) instead of predetermined tracks from the developer.

However, the game only halfheartedly delivers on that concept. TubeHero can recognize about 6,000 songs, so chances are, by a huge margin, that it will only play a few tracks (if that) from your library. This came as a disappointment, my music library being somewhat of an eclectic mix of classic rock, electronic, jam band and indie music, most of which was not playable in TubeHero. All I wanted was to be like Stevie Ray Vaughn, even for only a little while.

To be fair, JamRT says it is adding tracks each week, and the rights associated with making games out of songs are fairly complicated.

Bottom line: The gameplay is solid, but it would be way better with support for everything in your library.

Also, TubeHero is free, but only allows a few minutes of play-time and limited song selection before you buy the full version for $2. That also adds the ability to download a song directly from within the game, and even upload your scores to Facebook so you can prove to all your friends you really do know the rhythmic subtleties of Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl.