Synth Riders is easily one of my all-time favorite VR titles, rhythm or otherwise. It combines a great list of tracks with unique mechanics and brilliant mapping that always feels great, even on higher difficulties. Like any other rhythm game, Synth Riders has received several song packs over the years.
Perhaps the most unique of these was the original “Electro Swing Essentials” pack, which introduced me to this genre that combines the upbeat tempo and brass instruments of swing music with elements of EDM and other electronic music. It’s one of the most popular packs for a reason, but now we have Electro Swing Essentials 2, which offers five new paid tracks and four free ones. Should you swing on over to the store to download it? Let’s find out!
Breaking Down the New Tracks
First on the list of paid tracks is “Guilty Pleasure” by Jamie Berry, featuring Little Violet. This is the song featured in the track below, one of the best in the pack. It has a great tempo and wonderful use of muted trumpets alongside an upbeat rhythm in the background to keep everything moving.
It’s hard not to dance along as you play through this one, and while my abilities max out at “hard” difficulty, this track will get you moving and tapping your feet the whole time. It’s a great way to start the pack.
Next is “Boring 20s” by Tamela D’Amico, Wolfgang Lohr, and Ashley Slater. This track continues with the overall energy you would expect from the pack, but I enjoyed it less than the other ones. That’s not to say it’s bad, but the chorus isn’t quite as catchy as the other songs.
As a result, the mapping for this track just wasn’t quite as engaging for me, and I think that comes down to the track’s rhythm being less consistent than something like Guilty Pleasure. It’s not a bad song, but it doesn’t quite translate to the gameplay like others in this pack or the prior one.
Next is “Magic Man,” featuring J Fitz from Balduin and Wolfgang Lohr. This one brings back the upbeat tempo of the first track in the list while leveraging a consistent background rhythm to keep you moving. The vocals are also unique compared to most of the tracks on Synth Riders, which helps it stand out.
It’s yet another example of how this genre can keep you moving while leveraging the game’s “rails” in unique ways that force you to move with the music.
The next paid track in the pack is “Let’s Start Again” by Cut Capers. This is the “Odd Chap Remix” of the track, which lends it an Electro Swing feel. Of all the paid tracks in this pack, this one feels the least like a true Electro Swing song. It has some use of brass instruments, and the tempo is about right, but it lacks the unique charm of the other tracks.
Last, but not least, is “Rose” by Swingrowers. This song is a return to form for the paid tracks. It brings back the upbeat tempo, the lofty vocals, and the use of brass instruments to lock in what I believe are the best parts of this subgenre of music.
Free Tracks Round out The Pack
This pack also includes four free tracks, which is a nice bonus! They include:
- Keep You in Line (feat. Cissie) by Jamie Berry
- Keep on Smilin (feat. Emma Lea & Ashley Slater) by Wolfgang Lohr
- Watch Your Tongue by PiSk and Little Violet
- Silent Movie by Little Violent
The first track in the free selection is one of the weaker ones I’ve heard in the genre, but I will say that the other three are all great examples of how Electro Swing works so well in Synth Riders as a game. When you boil it down, this pack is a worthy successor to the original Electro Swing Essentials collection.
I don’t think it quite beats the quality of those original tracks, but there are some great ones here, and the song mapping makes excellent use of Synth Riders’ unique mechanics on higher difficulties. Fans of the original pack should dive right in, and those curious should pick up both packs to be safe.
Final Score: 8.0/10
Article by – Bradley Ramsey
Insert date – 2/6/2024