Watch Out 'Audioshield,' 'Soundboxing' Is Looking For A Fight

Soundboxing is a VR rhythm game similar to Audioshield, but with a major difference. Rather than rely on an algorithm to synchronize songs to the game, the Soundboxing community has full control over the creation of Soundboxing challenges.

Audioshield was one of the first titles to launch on the HTC Vive. The VR rhythm game hit Steam on April 5 for the Vive launch, and it became an instant hit. The game can access any local music file on your computer, such as MP3 or WMA files. When Audioshield launched, you could stream music from Soundcloud too, but the developer recently removed that feature in exchange for YouTube streaming.

When you play a song through Audiosheild, the game generates beat markers automatically that you have to punch out of the air. The algorithm that generates the beats works reasonably well, but it’s far from perfect. Poor beat synchronization is the most common complaint we’ve seen in the comments section of Audioshield’s Steam page. If you enjoy Audioshield, but the song synchronization bothers you, Soundboxing might be what you’re looking for.  

Soundboxing is similar to Audioshield. In both games, you stand in a stationary position while a song plays and colored orbs come flying towards you. In Audioshield, you have to block the orbs with corresponding colored shields; in Soundboxing, you punch them with corresponding colored fists. Both games have effectively the same mechanics, though; you can’t call them the same game.

For one thing, Soundboxing doesn’t include any preset installed songs, and it doesn’t have support for local music files. The game has a never-ending stream of songs to choose from, though, because it ties directly into YouTube’s ever-growing selection of music videos. You even get to watch the videos as you play the game.

In addition to watching the YouTube music video, which appears on a giant screen in front of you, you’ll find yourself watching a half dozen white robots mimic your every move in perfect synchronization. When you punch, so will they. The robots don’t seem to serve any purpose other than to be a bizarre visual feature of the game.

Soundboxing Doesn’t Provide Challenges; The Userbase Does

Soundboxing doesn’t generate the challenges for you the way Audioshield does. If you search for a song that no one has ever played before, you’ll have to create the challenge yourself before you can put a score on the board. Furthermore, if you don’t like the way a challenge syncs with the beat, you have the freedom to create one that satisfies you.

Maxint, Soundboxing’s developer, couldn’t have made the challenge creation process easier. All you have to do is listen to the song and punch the air (your left-hand holds the yellow orbs and your right-hand holds the red orbs) when and where you want an orb placed. You don’t necessarily have to follow the beat of your song, but we would strongly advise that you do. The game is much easier to play well when you get into the groove and start dancing to the music. You’re also more likely to find other names on the scoreboard if you build a fun challenge that people are willing to play through to the end.

Check The Leaderboards From Anywhere

Challenges that you create are uploaded to the Soundboxing database for other players to try their luck with. New challenges show up in the song selection list so that others can find it, but your challenge will also show up anytime someone else searches for that song.

Soundboxing keeps a leaderboard database for each challenge that you created, which lets you review the scoreboard any time you want. You won’t find yourself on the scoreboard unless you play the challenge over after saving it the first time. The game bases your score on your ability to replicate the initial run through the song.

Inside the game, you can view the top 10 scores for any song you search for, but if you want to see more than just the top 10 scores, you can find out on the Soundboxing website. Maxint maintains a list of the ten latest challenges on the game’s homepage, and it lets you browse the scores of the 23 featured songs that always show up inside the game. You can also log in to view the scoreboards of any challenge that you have created, as well as a list of the most recent scores that you achieve for any song.

If you drill down into the scoreboard of the browser view, you’ll find the corresponding YouTube video embedded on the page. You’ll also find a button that enables the game view, which is an animated clip of the robots playing through your challenge as the video plays. We’re not sure how useful that feature is, but it is an interesting idea, and we like it.

Entertaining. Not Perfect

Soundboxing is a worthy competitor to Audioshield, but we wouldn’t call it the Audioshield killer. Soundboxing offers some unique features that are interesting and add to the experience, but the game lacks polish. The environments are bland, and the menus aren’t exactly pretty. The game’s style is more utilitarian than anything else, though when you do well, pyrotechnics go off behind the dancing robots.

We also experienced slow song playback. The game otherwise performance well, but on several occasions, the tempo of the music slowed down as if the PC was having a hard time processing the audio track and the game at the same time. We didn’t experience this problem with every song, but it occurred enough times for it to be a noticeable concern. At first, we thought it was a feature, because it appeared only to occur while creating a new challenge, but we later experienced slow playback on another user’s custom challenge.

It’s also worth mentioning that YouTube protects music in different ways in different countries. If you live in the US, you’ll have no trouble finding songs to play. If you live overseas, that may not be the case. For example, YouTube blocks a large number of copyrighted songs in Germany, so keep that in mind before you decide to buy the game.

Despite its flaws, we think Soundboxing is worth considering-- especially because the game is only $7.99 on Steam. Compared to Audioshield, which sells for $19.99, Soundboxing is a steal.

 Kevin Carbotte is a contributing writer for Tom's Hardware who primarily covers VR and AR hardware. He has been writing for us for more than four years.