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Posted on Dec 30th 2023 at 08:17:39 PM by (koola6)
Posted under Trombone Champ, Trombone Champ, thoughts, video games, modding, reviews

There is a wide variety of answers to the question "What makes a good video game?". It may be the controls, or the gameplay, or the story, or any number of things.

...This is not the first time I've opened an article like that.

In my article about F.I.S.H. from all the way back in May 2022, I started the article with something along those lines. In that article, I went on to explain how each of those came together to make F.I.S.H. at that time my favorite video game. (I actually also did something similar for my article about This Way Madness Lies.)

I went on to conclude that because F.I.S.H. met all those requirements, it was my new favorite game. In fact, that was even in the title of the article. In retrospect, I think I was a bit overzealous about F.I.S.H. at that time; I had just found a new game that went into my list of "good games" and tried to claim automatically that it was my number one favorite game.

I have, since then, played many a game that has fallen into that spot. They usually only last in there for a few weeks before they get replaced by something different and more noteworthy; this might be due to the fact that sometimes I have a hard time differentiating between "favorite" and "this current thing I'm liking".

Ever since I wrote that article, I've been thinking a lot about this concept of favorites vs. current likings, and I think I finally found a game that has managed to survive the couple-week survival time of "favorite game" and has triumphed as a Good Game: Trombone Champ.

(I am writing this review after beating both the Switch and PC versions and getting every achievement on PC.)

The first thing I wanna clear up is that Trombone Champ is not similar to Wii Music. It feels like everyone makes that comparison when they first see this game. It is indeed a very tempting comparison to make, due to the two game's immediate apparent similarity: both use Mii-looking characters, both involve music, and both are inherently silly games. However, I feel the comparison should end there.

The gameplay of the games are very different; in Wii Music, the gameplay boils down to just wagging your Wii Remote to the "beat" of the music.

In Trombone Champ, the gameplay is wildly different: you are moving your mouse to control a cursor, overlapping a note, clicking to toot the trombone, and thus actually playing your music. That's actually one of the taglines of the game. This leads me into a point; yay, transitions!

In Trombone Champ, you're not following along with the music, you are actually playing the music. This fact defines a core aspect of what I love about Trombone Champ: the game actively gives you reason to play well. In most rhythm games, not playing a song well isn't the end of the world, you just hear less of that instrument. In this game, if you are playing badly, you will feel it, because the entire main lead of most of the songs has just disappeared. Going back to the main point, playing the actual music is fun and enjoyable because you're not penalized for just going hog wild and adding little extra toots in there. You can play the song however you want.

Another  area I want to focus on is difficulty. Most rhythm games will up the difficulty to insane amounts just because they can. In Trombone Champ, most of the songs are not difficult once you get used to the controls and find a good sensitivity. There are a good couple difficult ones, however most of the songs are easy, and the amount of easy ones are even increasing with future content updates. Additionally, you can play any song at any time after completing the tutorial. I often find myself in rhythm games unlocking a new level, beating it, and thinking that I could've done it before the harder level before it, so this is a nice change of pace.

Remember about five seconds ago when I mentioned "future content updates"? Yeah, that's yet another thing that this game has got going for it. Additional, free content is something I feel all games should have. The more content that you add, the more that people will want to play and come back. It's the reason why games like Minecraft and Terraria are so popular. I think that rhythm games are one of the best choices for games that could receive more free content later down the road, due to the way that they are often played: people will often play them to see if they can "Perfect" all of the tracks. Trombone Champ has been getting two new free tracks about every three months for about a year now. They did say in their most recent update that they were going to slow down in that regard, so maybe this point should count for less now, but I still think it's good.

Lastly, Trombone Champ is very moddable, and has officially-backed mod support. When I say "officially-backed", I mean not that the developers are making official mods or have an official song editor (although an official song editor is being worked on, along with Steam Workshop support, for which I am very excited!), I mean that the developers are actually working with the mod creators to make sure that the mods work and are not actively trying to take the mods down. I feel like mods are a right of passage for published video games. They will happen, and it's up to the developers to decide if they want to try to stop them or embrace them and have a thriving mod community that people come to often. The way that I said that makes it seem like people should always support mods, which is what I think, but sometimes it can make paid DLC seem less inviting. In any case the developers of Trombone Champ handle modding very well, in my opinion: they embrace it, and have specifically made certain tweaks to the game to ensure mods run and behave the best they can.

All around, Trombone Champ has the perfect mix of community content, official content, and fun gameplay to make it one of my new personal favorite games. I highly recommend it.

I've been koola, and wait, did I just get all my articles in for a year?!!?!?!?

(YES I DID! Unfortunately September's article looks like it came out in October, but that's because I submitted it at like 11:30 EST. See y'all in '24!)


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Comments
 
It has been fun watching you, er, champion Trombone Champ and getting a lot more people into it whom would have otherwise been dismissive and missed out on a weird, twisted, hilarious, and honestly great game.

Congrats on your writing consistency!  Time for me to buckle down and get back to writing. Smiley

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Welcome to my little side of the internet! This is where I post game reviews, video-game related things, and stuff about MY game, OMNIFATE. Expect a new article about every month; sometimes I post more than once in a month or take five-month long breaks.

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