Rhino Musical Aptitude Test Review

You Don’t Know Jack (About Music)

Did you know that Sheryl Crow lent background vocals to Michael Jackson before striking out on her own, or that Van Halen’s concert performance contract contained a line banning all brown M&Ms from their backstage candy bowls? Obscure musician-related factoids abound in the Rhino Musical Aptitude Test (Free to try, $.99 full content IAP)! For those who haven’t already been assigned an RMAT score at a brick-and-mortar music store, Rhino is one part Wheel of Fortune and one part Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? — and sure to appeal to those who want to see whether they know absolutely everything about every mainstream band that’s played on stage since the 1920s. The answer to that one is “probably not,” but it’s easy enough for the mainstream music geek to have fun finding out on his or her iDevice.

The player starts a round of Rhino by sliding over a vinyl record to set it spinning. It’s secretly divided into sectors devoted to particular eras, and when it stops scratching irritably beneath a virtual turntable needle, the player is taken to a multiple-choice screen with ten seconds to answer a question from the randomly selected decade. A round lasts until the player either scores five correct answers or gets three wrong; a limited number of lifelines – styled “guitar picks” here – may be called upon to narrow down the answers on offer for the currently displayed question. The first round is very accessible to a general audience, but advancing to new rounds expectedly brings more obscure trivia into play.

When the player finally succumbs, he or she is offered a music IQ rating that factors in his or her accumulated score, how fast he or she answered, and how many lifelines remain. The full version integrates Game Center and OpenFeint support, and allows the social network-inclined to post scores to Facebook and Twitter. The In-App Purchase also unlocks the entire pool of RMAT questions and lets players challenge friends to best their IQ ratings.

Rhino is well constructed if largely unembellished in terms of user interface and basically compelling as a trivia game. It’s too bad the player can’t exercise more control over the category of questions that appear, though. They may only be filtered by decade, and the filter options screen even warns that there won’t be enough questions to draw from should the player want to cut out the 1960s onward (hey, don’t look at me weird — maybe I wanted to test my knowledge of early Jazz, okay?). It’s a big clue as to where the majority of questions lie, and they’re certainly devoted to the more trendy genres, so intimate knowledge of New Age or videogame music won’t give the player much of an edge here. I’m certainly looking forward to the developer’s planned expansion packs – which should address the game’s shortcomings – though it’s unclear whether these will involve additional IAPs.

Perhaps my greatest disappointment with Rhino came when I realized there’s nary a music track to be heard in-game. Considering that individual tracks go for this app’s purchase price on iTunes anyway, I suppose one can’t ask for miracles; the player can look forward only to the nails-on-chalkboard screech of the turntable needle while proving his or her worth as a music geek. Do yourself a favor and toss Talk Talk’s “It’s My Life” into your iTunes playlist before you fire up this app — who knows, maybe it could help you during the prestigious Vinyl round!

iFanzine Verdict: It doesn’t substitute for a trip through the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and its obvious focus on the 1960s onward will leave some musical palates unsatisfied, but Rhino Musical Aptitude Test is still the trivia app of choice for anyone who’s paid due attention to the most popular bands of the past several decades. While it already packs a healthy selection of achievements and a nice network-enabled competitive aspect, this can only improve with planned developer updates — definitely worth keeping an eye on as these roll in.

[xrr rating=3.5/5]