Tired of Guitar Hero? Try Quirkat's new game for Oud

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So you've gotten good at Guitar Hero? How would you fare on oud or tabla? For those who want to duke it out with friends over more classical fare, Quirkat has updated its Al-Moosiqar games with a new iPad version that lets users try their hand at playing traditional songs on the oud or tabla.

More than just a copy, it's a genuinely local game that uses music from local artists (any interested artist can contact Quirkat to have their music published in the game).

Quirkat initially released Al-Moosiqar online in 2009, following it with a successful mobile release that won the Judge’s Choice Award for Nokia’s Calling All Innovators “Bil3arabi” contest.  Now, they've adapted the Arabic and English title for iPad with a fresh look and a larger selection of classic favorites.

A still from the game. 

The oud, similar to the lute, boasts a unique sound and is a staple in traditional Arabic music. Similar to Guitar Hero or Rockband, players can play by hitting the notes and strumming the strings alongside the timing and flow on the screen. Although the oud has 12 strings, the game only uses a simplified 4, one less than Guitar Hero offers.

This version, which is $0.99 in the app store, includes multiplayer mode, updated graphics and custom recorded music. Players battle for higher scores and note streaks that can earn them the title of Rhythm Master and Virtuoso.

Why release it now? Quirkat felt that such a game was overdue in the market. “The music industry is growing in the region with shows like Arab Idol and X Factor Arabia, but it has no presence in the games industry and we saw that as an opportunity,” says Marketing Manager Rawan Sha'ban, who revealed that it took around 2-3 months to adapt for iPad.

I had a chance to play the game and, while the tabla screen is really no different from the oud, it’s still fun to play and rather challenging. The user experience is a bit uninspired, however, and leaves the user feeling flat even when they have a note streak going.

Overall though, it's a cool and simple idea, and the most interesting element is that local artists can apply to have their songs and recording featured in the game – this is definitely a cool marketing tool and a win-win for artists and Quirkat.

Though the game only just came out on the iPad, Sha’ban assured me that they have had strong feedback so far, building on their original launch in 2009. Their large target audience is “Arab speakers in the Middle East, males and females, between the ages of 14 and 50, people who enjoy listening to music and are casual gamers.” They secondarily target Arab expats living abroad.

It’s nice to see Quirkat continue to develop on multiple platforms, maintaining a diversity of games even as they capitalize on the attention they’ve received from Sony for their recent PlayStation games.  Though this isn’t their most inspired creation, they are proving that they have what it takes to compete internationally.

Check out a demo of Al-Moosiqar here:

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