Piano City - Halloween Magic is fun game for young pianists

Piano City - Halloween Magic screenshot

Piano City - Halloween Magic is a music game that takes you along a Halloween-themed journey, building up your piano skills and competing in concert recitals along the way. You start at the bottom of the social rank with basic songs to play on the piano using an interface similar to that of the famous Tap Tap Revenge and slowly work your way up to stardom. Piano City is free for iPhone and iPad with in-app purchases.

Quite frankly, I'm not entirely sure how the Halloween theme relates at all to the gameplay. The design is nice and attractive in particular for kids, but it seems like an afterthought thrown in just because it's that time of the year. None of the songs or characters are spooky or related to the holiday. The UI of the game is just coated in a pumpkin spice paint.

Aside from that observation, the game design is beautiful with or without the haunted motif. The tutorial helpfully guides you through the first few songs you have to play. You don't really have much flexibility in choosing music until later in the game when you unlock more music (or pay for "premium" songs) so at the beginning you're stuck with the classics like "Greensleeves."

Piano City - Halloween Magic screenshot

Piano City aims square at kids, but I have to admit I had an almost absurdly good time playing. The game has the power to be pretty educational for kids looking to start out playing piano, incorporating a layer of entertainment at the same time. The piano displays a full octave worth of keys on screen and when the illuminated bubbles reach the keys, press to play a note in time. It gets a tad harder and faster with each new song. Eventually you move to larger venues, play more songs and have higher expectations for success. If you miss so many cues, you lose.

I did notice that to account for songs with ranges spanning more than an octave, the piano keys sporadically jump octaves as needed. Lesson: higher notes are never on the left side of the piano.

Piano City has diamonds for its in-game currency which you earn while simultaneously gaining clout as a musician. These buy all sorts of goodies like renewed "inspiration," piano upgrades and more. Certain purchases still require regular money though. For instance, the pack of five "premium" songs including Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" costs US$1.99. When you run out of diamonds and choose not to wait to earn more, they're available for purchase in bundles up to $9.99 in cost.

Piano City - Halloween Magic screenshot

The game has other components like a daily challenge and various tasks like finding someone's teddy bear to gather small rewards, but I found them distracting from the main point of the game.

Piano City - Halloween Magic is a truly entertaining music game suitable for all ages. The piano is easy to play and the songs aren't too difficult nor unfamiliar. It's a bit better to play on the iPad, however it's a universal app that's free in the App Store.