Rhythm games. From local arcades to peripheral-driven parties like Rock Band and Guitar Hero, the genre has been a staple of gaming since time immemorial. It seems fallen out of favor as of late, but the genre never stopped attracting a dedicated audience. It's too early to tell if Spin Rhythm XD will get the genre its mass appeal back, but the version that's released in Early Access is solid.
At the helm of the ship is Super Entertainment, a studio started by two ex- Halfbrick Studio devs. Their most notable achievement is their work on the Fruit Ninja franchise. Together, they have set out to create a new take on the genre with a sleek aesthetic and an EDM soundtrack.
Despite its Early Access status, there's already more than enough content in the game to have fun with. This version of the game contains 15 original tracks, with another 15 coming at some point in the next year. These tracks all come with several difficulty modes, giving you more than enough challenges to beat.
The gameplay is really engaging. Spin Rhythm XD takes some familiar concepts from the genre but tweaks the formula in a way that makes playing the game feel fresh. By now you're probably quite familiar with the notes dropping down into sections on the board. Usually, those sections correspond to buttons on a plastic guitar or the like. That is where Spin Rhythm XD differs. Instead of buttons, Spin Rhythm XD gives you a ring.
Like A Record, Baby!
I like the design of the ring. It's a bit of an adjustment at first, but it's implemented well. This ring is divided into blue and red sections. You never control this ring but instead control the cursor below it. You can grab onto any part of the top ring, locking it into place and allowing you to align the right sections with the right notes. You can also spin the ring by latching on and sweeping the ring around. An oft-used mechanic requires you to do this, and boy does it feel satisfying when you nail one. It feels tactile, with the mouse lending itself for more precise movement. The game fully utilizes this, needing you to quickly drag and spin the ring around to hit the right notes at the right time.
The game has a bit of a learning curve to it, though. The controls do take some getting used to, but the difficulty overall is fair and rewarding. You get out of this game what you put into it. This might be in part due to the game's visuals. Bright splashes of color dot the screen in tandem with the music, which can be a little distracting at times. Still, this is part and parcel for this kind of game and Spin Rhythm XD isn't the worst when it comes to this.
Some Old School Fun
Rhythm and music games have their roots in the arcades, and Spin Rhythm XD wears that legacy on its sleeves. Its menu design feels like a throwback, reminiscent of the SEGA arcade classics you'd find in a hall near you. I also love the use of color that the developers went for here. Bright splashes of neon add to the already futuristic aesthetic. While the game is nothing special graphically, its colorful visual effects and levels make the game nice to look at.
A unique feature I've never seen before is the MIDI support. If you own turntables you can use that to control the game instead of using your mouse. I love that the developers thought of this. I don't own turntables (the preferred appliance for the feature), but I was able to configure my MIDI keyboard to work with the game. I can't recommend trying to play it with anything other than actual turntables, though. Some of the mechanics require you to spin something and that's just not possible on a keyboard.
For now, all potential remains hypothetical. But what's there makes me excited to see where they could go with this. It's a cleverly designed game with a neat aesthetic that is easy to get in to but hard to get good at. The MIDI support is a rather unique addition and the promised upcoming custom track support will go a long way into ensuring Spin Rhythm XD can go the distance.
TechRaptor previewed Spin Rhythm XD on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer.