‘Frequency’ Offers Video Gamers a Cheap, Entertaining Game

Clayton Walker
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Perhaps one of the reasons I still play the old greats from the days of Nintendo and the Sega Genesis stems both from the fact that they’re excellent titles and the fact that I’m dead broke most of the time.

I was overjoyed recently to find a game that was nearly flawless, in addition to being a great deal. Walk into any game store now, and you’ll find at least one copy of Harmonix System’s “Frequency” for the PlayStation2. I’ll reiterate that it’s both brilliant and cheap.

If you pick up the box, it’s not hard to see why it hasn’t sold well. There’s absolutely nothing about the images that would make sense to your average gaming layperson: a few diamond shapes, a big polygon, streaking lights, and a weird background.

Although downright psychedelic, it certainly didn’t persuade me to buy it the first several times I noticed it. But thank god I finally did.

“Frequency” is a totally unconventional music game. In essence, it works out much like other games in the genre in which you hit a button in time with the beat.

In “Frequency’s” case, three different kinds of notes will travel down the screen, forcing you to capture them in step with the rhythm by pressing the button that corresponds to left, center and right notes. That’s it.
Where the complexity comes in is that the notes you capture are constantly shifting and changing; the daunting polygon that I mentioned before contains several tracks that add up to a whole song.

Capture the vocal track of a song, and you will need to manipulate the environment in order to get to the guitar or drum tracks, adding layers to the song with each one completed. The mechanics sound intimidating, but anyone can learn; it’s just a meager number of button presses – the game will actually teach you how to play in a tutorial mode.

“Frequency’s” challenge is amazing, simply put. Easy mode can be breezed through, and that’s essentially the point of things: a warm up for the harder difficulty settings that bombard you with complex strings of notes in entirely new songs.

Fast reactions and a careful attention to the tempo is the only way to survive the onslaught. When you finish a song, there’s a feeling of accomplishment.

What’s great is that all of the music is both magnificent and eclectic, featuring rock, jungle, funk and techno.

The artists lend their music perfectly to the game: Fear Factory, No Doubt, Powerman 5000, Lo Fidelity All Stars, and The Crystal Method are among the most popular. The rest of the other 21 musicians featured in the game provide equally stellar work, such as the British electro-rock band Curve, as well as the synth-driven “Freezepop.”

“Frequency” is definitely an experience; it’s a refreshing take on a lesser-known genre of video games, and despite how intimidating it appears at first, the game soon becomes reflexive as your fingers react to the songs.

Though not promoted much, “Frequency” will appeal to adventuresome gamers and bargain hunters alike. I give it my highest possible recommendation to anyone who likes both games and music.