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Play 'Amplitude' on PS4 in the dark with giant speakers

The PlayStation 3 version will follow in a few months.

Amplitude is a quiet kind of phenomenon. Not that the game itself is silent -- depending on how high you crank your speakers, it can be soul-pounding and skin-tingling -- but there's a surprisingly deep pool of reverence for this music-driven, space-racing series. Against all odds, the PlayStation 4 version that launched this week raised $844,000 from 14,000 backers on Kickstarter in mid-2014, its campaign riding the nostalgic, neon waves of its 2002 PS2 predecessor.

Those aren't the only waves that players might ride while playing Amplitude, creative lead Ryan Lesser told Engadget. The game is dark and bright at the same time, shooting you down winding, floating platforms littered with orbs that create a soundtrack as you shoot them. In the right environment, the latest version of Amplitude sparks an intimate connection with music and movement.

With this experience in mind, we asked Lesser to divulge the best way to play Amplitude, whether with friends, alone, while drinking alcohol or maybe even consuming other mind-altering substances. He laughed before answering.

"I sort of hope that the game has the same effect on people that some mind-altering substances do," he said. "Personally, I am a big fan of solo play on a gigantic TV (with no AV lag), huge speakers and in total darkness."

Gallery: Amplitude for PlayStation 4 | 10 Photos

However you play it, Amplitude is the product of crowdfunding in a big way. The only reason Harmonix, the developer, even thought to reboot the series was because it came up during a discussion about crowdfunding.

"The Kickstarter was crucial to the development of Amplitude," Lesser said. "We needed to prove that that there was an audience for the game before we devoted time and resources to the game. Additionally, we knew that we couldn't fund the entire project on our own and since there was no publisher, we needed the bolster of the Kickstarter funds."

Amplitude's campaign asked for $775,000 but it ended up raising nearly $850,000. The extra monetary support actually broadened the scope of the game: The final PS4 product shipped this week with more than double the number of intended songs, three times the number of planned levels and more blasters than Harmonix originally bargained for.

The studio also broadened its own financial contribution to the game after the Kickstarter's conclusion. It originally said $775,000 was about half of the budget for the new Amplitude. But, with the over-funding from thousands of fans, Harmonix increased its own, in-house contribution, too.

"Seeing that target hit gave us a massive boost in confidence," Lesser said, listing some of the extras Harmonix ended up adding to Amplitude. "We needed to increase the budget, so the confidence that the Kickstarter gave us led us to make a larger investment of our own."

Harmonix isn't done working on the newest Amplitude. It still needs to release a PS3 version of the game and the studio has been vague about that edition's release window. Harmonix plans to release the PS3 edition in the spring, Lesser said.

"We needed to pick a target platform first, in order to make the game truly great and cohesive," he said. "We wanted the team to focus on one platform, and when done, move to the next. Of course we had the PS3 in consideration during the whole timeline and during all conversations, but development was focused on just PS4."

When Amplitude hits PS3, maybe keep Lesser's lesson in mind: Play it in the dark, with the sound blasting, and prepare for a transcendent experience.

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