The best thing about decent music and rhythm games is the opportunity to pretend you’re a rock star, a dance genius or, at the very least, someone with a bit of rhythm in their bones. Being able to rock out or dance along to your favourite musical tunes is a huge draw behind the success of numerous music titles.
The worst thing about these musical movements though is that when you stumble upon a song you don’t know, it instantly puts you on the back foot, seeing you struggle to keep time and hit the required beats. When that tune isn’t particularly catchy, or is of a genre that you wouldn’t normally sit down to listen to, it makes the struggle ten times worse.
With that in mind, I’ve been sat here for a few weeks messing around with SUPERBEAT: XONiC, and more than 65 songs, in the hope that it comes off as the next best thing in the rhythm music genre.
Unfortunately, it isn’t. But that’s quite possibly because I’m about as far removed from the target audience as is humanly possible.
SUPERBEAT: XONiC is the latest rhythm title to hit the console world. In my eyes however, it would be best off left in some cash-filled arcade, drawing the younger crowd in with its brilliantly bright visuals and banging beats. As a 40+ year old male, who likes nothing better than sitting on his sofa with a beer in hand, you will quickly understand how I haven’t been drawn in.
But that’s not to say XONiC is bad. Because as far as gameplay mechanics and content quantity goes, it’s not too shabby at all.
The usual rhythmic game rules all apply with SUPERBEAT – sit down, pick a tune and hammer the required buttons as and when the time is right, building up power, earning points and ensuring that the combos you create are as lengthy as they can be. Come the end of the tune, you’ll get ranked, will gather up a new icon, before unlocking some new tracks and getting the chance to crack on again.
Set with bright visuals flying towards you in time with the music, you’ll need to hit the face buttons on your controller, a specific direction on the D-Pad or flick the thumbsticks at the correct moment to ensure you get to show off your talents. Should you mistime things, then, well, it’s not like it’ll be the end of the world as the music will continue to flow. It’s just that come the end of the tune, you won’t have much of a score or worldwide leaderboard placing.
The timings for the button presses are critical, and they work well should your fingers, thumbs and brain be in gear. There is a calibration tool present should you feel things are slightly off, but from my view point, I haven’t felt the need to drop in and alter too many settings. You will however need to practice in order to become perfect, and running through the same tunes over and over again in the search of that all-conquering S+ rank and worldwide stardom is something that is going to be needed.
If you find yourself struggling, or even wish to ramp things up a bit, then you can slow down or speed up the button presses as you see fit. Personally, I believe that anyone who even thinks that they can cope with taking the tunes up and above the standard 1.0 speed, must be some kind of finger flexing ninja.
A Stage mode is the main section of XONiC and this brings you four different gameplay options. 4 TRAX should be your starting point, bringing the simplest, easiest controls, requiring the use of only a few buttons and stick flicks in order to see you succeed. You’ll only need to overcome a series of four tracks before your success is unveiled too and is a most welcome way of joining the action. 6 TRAX ramps things up by introducing further button presses and a couple more songs to the setlist, whilst the well-named 6 TRAX FX pushes everything to the nth degree, testing even the finest finger workers in the West.
Freestyle is your last gameplay option to be found on the Stage – but should you have ever picked up a controller at any point over the last 20 years, I’m pretty sure you can work out what that does.
Should you have proven your worth in Stage, and wish to go one step further, then the World Tour is sitting pretty, waiting to eat you up and spit you out.
This brings certain challenges to the table, and although the songs are the same as you’ll find elsewhere, the inclusion of game changers mixes things up. The alterations are a bit too steep for my liking as whilst I’ve struggled with much of SUPERBEAT: XONiC in its standard form, adding in the likes of No Breaks or a FADE IN situation just complicates and confuses matters even more. Unfortunately, even with the game speed turned right down, and XONiC made as easy as it can be, the skills required for success in World Tour are far removed from what I can bring to the table.
I would like to place much of the blame for my lack of skills on the fact that the songs included in SUPERBEAT don’t help matters. But I think I may be clutching at straws.
You see, should this game be sitting pretty in an arcade, then I would guess it’ll be a hit – much like we’ve seen with the old dancing game machines over the years. But sitting here, on my UK console with my small minded Britishness well entrenched, then I feel things are a bit amiss. Many of the visual album covers are cartoony and anime’d, whilst the tunes themselves are nothing short of what I would expect to find in a Japanese karaoke bar. Seeing as I’ve never been in a Japanese karaoke bar (or a UK one for that matter), I may have got that completely wrong, but by my reckoning, I’ve only really got interest in tunes and songs that a) I can sing along to, and b) I actually understand. SUPERBEAT: XONiC unfortunately has no rock, it has no punk, it has no jazz and it has no blues, instead filling your ears with melodies that wouldn’t look out of place on an alternative, even stranger, version of Eurovision than that find in real life.
It therefore doesn’t push my buttons. It does have a very Far Eastern vibe about it though, so if that is your bag, then you will no doubt enjoy SUPERBEAT: XONiC.
There are no two ways about it – allowing for personal tastes – SUPERBEAT: XONiC is either going to be a huge hit or a massive miss. With more than 65 songs available, multiple speed settings and a World Tour that will take no prisoners, it definitely delivers enough goods for fans of the music style to warrant stumping up some cash. Whether it is ever worthy of the huge $39.99 price tag though, I’m not too sure. Personally, I couldn’t bring myself to part with $9.99 for a music title that doesn’t deliver my favourite tunes, so spending four times that amount is never going to happen.
At the end of the day, it’s all very subjective as to whether you will like or hate SUPERBEAT: XONiC. In fact, the choice is, as they say, yours.