KickBeat has appeared on almost all consoles and finally this month it has arrived for the Playstation 4, the WiiU and the Xbox One as KickBeat Special Edition. KickBeat is a music/fighting game hybrid where each of your attacks are tied to the beat as you fight your way through these musical challenges. KickBeat, created by Zen Studios the creators of the Pinball FX series, was previously available on the Playstation 3, Playstation Vita and Windows.
If you’re a fan of games such as Dance Dance Revolution or Gitaroo Man then you will find a lot in common with this game. In KickBeat you play as Lee or Mei in a spherical arena as yellow, blue and red enemies will swarm around you and advance on beats or half beats. As they get close to you then the corresponding button to your position, if they approach from the right then the circle button/B button will appear underneath them that you need to press as they move over to successfully attack them. If you fail to hit them then they hit you and your health begins to suffer because of it. Your health and special meter are on the floor and activating your super will allow whatever multiplier you have for the song/level you are playing become double, very much like Guitar Hero’s special move. There are multiple difficulties that you can select from the main menu ranging from normal to expert, which is not to be taken lightly. Once you complete the game once as Lee you are then able to play through again as Mei with a different story line, not only that but you also unlock a multiplayer mode which allows you to play against a friend and see who is the best at fighting to the highest score to the march of the beat.
The story of this game is fairly minimal, the plot revolves around a mystical sphere that contained every song in the world having all of its content, except for 18 songs, being stolen. Your aim is to use those 18 songs, the playable tracks in the game, to track down the person responsible for this. Each of the five different arenas that are the settings of the fights are tied into the locations that you are trying to track down the thief.
The graphics in KickBeat surprised me as how fluid and well done they looked as if a lot of time had been put into them. As you fight Lee and Mei fluidly move around the circle in the center as then kick, punch, leap and stand on their heads. There was no moment where they moved from one position to another that seemed impossible and all animations ended and began smoothly. Each of the enemies for the different locales were the same three styled enemies, yellow, blue and red, but each had a new costume to represent the area. The arenas that you fight in have also had great care taken as small details like wave forms appearing on the outer edges or being able to look into the background and see interesting things happening.
The audio in the game had some highs and sadly some lows too. As with all rhythm games one of the big aspects is the ability to have catchy songs as well as have all of the music stay in time with the beats and button presses. For a lot of the songs, especially for those by enV, this was absolutely spot on but for some of the others either the beats were off or the type of song that was playing just didn’t seem to fit the theme of the game correctly. This games track list is mostly from smaller artists such as Blue Stahli or Shen Yi, there are a couple of notable exceptions with a track from Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie and Papa Roach though that were fun to see.
Multiplayer in KickBeat is a simple recreation of the single player gameplay but with a split screen allowing you to battle it out with your friends. You are able to pick all of the same songs from the single player that you have unlocked, you need to defeat the second last boss in the game to be able to play split screen. At the end of the round the two scores are compared and a winner is decided, this game mode is fast and as fun as the single player game with added competition.
KickBeat is a fun game to play through in a single sitting, I wouldn’t recommend this game if you’re expecting the next iteration of DDR but if you want a fun little rhythm game to entertain you then this is a good choice. One factor that might appeal to more hardcore rhythm gamers is that when you change the difficulty then the game gets a lot harder and a lot more technical. Getting to the end of the game I was beginning to have difficulties completing levels even on the hard difficulty, I barely lasted more than 30 seconds on anything higher, so if you want a challenge and have time to learn patterns and timing then you may have fun. In the end this was a fun game, i’m not sure i’d play it again but for $10 it was a sound investment for 3-5 hours of my time. I would be interested to try out the Steam only feature where you can add in your own music though.
This game might not be fun if you're looking for the next DDR but for fans of rhythm games and want a challenge then KickBeat may be the next best game for you!