Soundvoyager is the only game we can think of that’s vastly improved by lying down and closing your eyes to play it. That’s because it is, essentially, an entirely audio game. So it’s instantly an interesting curiosity, and the most unique of Nintendo’s bit Generation series of accessible Game Boy Advance titles. But it doesn’t necessarily follow that it’s any good.
But, hooray hoorah, about half of it is very good indeed. The Sound Catcher levels are the good half of the game, so we’ll start with those. The task is to, yes, catch sounds by manoeuvring left and right based on where the sound sounds like it’s coming from – so headphones are very much recommended.
There are a few on-screen cues which can help initially, but as alluded to above it’s infinitely more satisfying once the confidence has been built up to shun the visual world completely. It makes for a quite unique experience, as you’re free to concentrate solely on what’s coming in your ears, and picking out the new layer residing somewhere in the audio spectrum. Vaguely hearing something in the low frequency range in your left ear, then going after it and being right is incredibly satisfying, precisely because it’s not a skill most people have tested often.
But then there’s the annoying and rubbish half – the other six types of level. The game employs a branching structure – a branch for each of the other sorts of level, which alternate with Sound Catcher along said branches. Branches are chosen at the end of certain Sound Catcher levels by catching one of two sounds representing the next level. This isn’t particularly interesting, granted, but it was ages before we figured out how to get to other levels, so we thought we’d share.
It would be difficult to classify any of the other six sorts of levels as particularly good. Sound Slalom is comfortably the worst, the task being to repeatedly get between two points alternately emitting beeps. It’s really hard, has a time limit, and is unmitigated shit. Sound Drive and Sound Chase are both about not being in the same lane as other sounds; Sound Picker and Sound Cock (do your own joke) both involve finding sounds in a limited space; and in Sound Cannon you have to destroy sounds when they get close enough. None of them are as bad as Sound Slalom, but neither are any of them exactly enjoyable.
Sound Catcher is a simple idea well executed. The others levels try to do something more complicated, and sound alone isn’t enough to bear the complications.