If you are an iPod owning fan of Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution, you've no doubt heard of Phase before. Its a recently released game that will play on any current iPod (excluding the Touch and the iPhone). The basic premise is the same as Guitar Hero; notes are sent at you from the back, and you press buttons in time with them to get points. The big hook for Phase however, other than its portability, is that fact that the song list is comprised of your own music. The game calculates and creates a pattern of notes based on the basic rhythm of the song upon import. The patterns created by the game are very accurate, with occasional faults that can only be barely noticed, and could arguably still be in time with the beat. If you own no music, fear not. Phase comes with its own soundtrack of some pretty catchy songs.
As for the gameplay, there are only three columns of notes, and no chords or long notes as you may be accustomed to. You press the Forward, Backward, and Center buttons on the iPod's click wheel to match the notes. Occasionally during the song, your interface will change from three blank buttons to a speaker icon. When this happens, you move your finger to the click wheel and rotate it to move the speaker and catch twisted trails of dots which the game calls Sweeps. It sounds strange, but it feels totally natural. Rather than diminishing your health for missing notes, the game has notes that you hit build up stars. If you reach the number of stars specified by the time you get to the next checkpoint (usually between six and twelve per song), you will continue unhindered. If you haven't reached the required amount of stars, your life will be cut by however many stars you were away from the goal.
There are three difficulty settings for varied amounts of challenge. There is also Quick Spin mode where you play songs one-by-one, and Marathon mode where you play five songs of increasing difficulty. The background graphics are quirky and eye-catching, the game is really fun and totally portable, and the replay value is almost infinite. A mere five dollars for a solid gold title by the leader of rhythm games seems like a good deal to me. Buy it right away!