If you ask an Xbox One gamer about their best Kinect moment, many will stand back and think for a few minutes before uttering the immortal words ‘There is no best moment. Kinect is dead’.
Thankfully, the guys at the Virtual Air Guitar Company are trying to prove that Kinect is anything but a completely useless tool with the introduction of a number of motion controlled titles on Xbox One. After wowing with the rather superb Boom Ball, the axe wielders stalled slightly with the delightfully childish, Squid Hero. They are now back and ready to transport players into the strange world of subatomic particles as gamers search for a Unified Field Theory.
Beatsplosion for Kinect is here…but is it any good?
If you’re not quite sure how subatomic particles and Unified Field Theories can translate into an exciting fast paced video game, then you need not worry. Any story or hint of narration is swiftly blasted away as you go up against some hot beats; smashing blocks, dodging walls and jumping obstacles all to the rhythmic sounds of some pretty catchy tunes.
Beatsplosion will get you testing your inner ninja as you get sent on a constantly moving third person railer that sees your usual Kinect imposed body get gifted a huge pair of comedic battering ram hands. It is with these that you’ll need to smash the oncoming quarks and neutrinos in time to the beat of the music. Split over the course of levels that come complete with their own ninja belt reward, each group of stages gets progressively harder with faster beats popping up along the way.
Starting off with the basic tutorial and the white belt, the 130 beats per minute that accompanies your playthrough will initially feel rather pedestrian but the slow pace is in there for a reason. It gives a great starting ground for what is to come, as making your way through the yellow, green, purple and red offerings prior to hitting the big black belt will all require fast movement and hard hitting punches. Each stage runs for three minutes and consists of a combination of dodging and jumping walls, smashing your hands through crystals and attempting to get the highest completion rate possible. You don’t need to perfect each and every obstacle that comes your way, but the more you perfect, the higher your score will be and the more you’ll be able to climb the online leaderboard rankings.
Once you’ve managed to blast through the progressively speedy levels, culminating with powering your way through the insane challenge of the black belt on easy, then the inclusion of an expert mode brings in a good hour or so more of gameplay. Running at roughly the same pace as the easy stages, you’ll be tasked with timing your shots better and punching with a greater force in order to collect a higher score, more gems and a greater overall rating. It’s around about here where you’ll really start to feel the burn of Beatsplosion and realise exactly how good it is as a fun, but hard, fitness tool…and that is perhaps something Kinect in itself should be marketed at. The ‘weekly play time tracker’ which has been included seems to point at the developers feeling the same way as I do.
There are times when you’ll struggle to keep up with the pace of Beatsplosion and some of the harder skill levels on the expert mode especially are just downright ridiculous, particularly if you’re not in the best of shape. There is after all, only so many times you can move your hands each and every second before exploding into a jibbering, jabbering mess. That said though, the top levels and the fastest beats are something which must be experienced just the once, if only for humours sake. Beware though, there is little chance you’ll ever find yourself nailing them all 100%.
If you do fail, then all is not lost as there is no way of ‘losing’ on Beatsplosion. Instead, you’ll just be tasked with attempting the level again, with the sole ambition of trying to better your previous scores in order to unlock more gems. These in turn give you access to more levels, a number of random pattern stages in which you’ll never know what is coming up, or the chance to hit the 20 min challenge – something which doesn’t stand for quitters but is a must for anyone serious about testing their fitness ability.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time with Beatsplosion but nothing is ever perfect, especially when it relies so heavily on a newish high tech component. As well as Kinect manages to grab your soul before dragging you in, there are times when Beatsplosion will go a bit nuts. Admittedly, this is more an issue with the technology itself rather than the game, as a solo player participating in a quiet room will be fine. Throw in the random elements of more people (or indeed pets) in the same room and this can sometimes make those huge hands of yours act randomly, popping in and out forever more and completely ruining the experience. I can’t really knock Beatsplosion or the devs for this as it’s something that will affect a whole ton of Kinect titles.
I can knock Beatsplosion for a lack of musical tracks though. As much as I want to continue for as long as my body allows, there is only so long I can cope with listening in to the repetitive, addictive, but rather numbing musical scores that make up the core of the game. They are fine for a while, but I recommend giving it a little rest every now and then if you ever want to sleep at night. Some beats just get a bit too much and burrow themselves deep into your mind. Perhaps the addition of a number of new backing tracks which sound slightly different may have helped.
Beatsplosion for Kinect is a more than decent attempt at keeping Kinect for Xbox One alive. With basic visuals that are sharp and bright, there is nothing in the way of stopping precision being king – thankfully this is more than apparent with punches hitting home accurately for the vast majority of the time, no matter what the speed of play. At a moment in gaming circles when the technology is in place, but in no way utilised or marketed as it once was, it’s great to see that there are still some studios who give us Kinecters a chance to jump and dance around our living rooms, strangely getting fit in the process. Even if the vast majority of it is over within a couple of hours, Beatsplosion most definitely allows for that and is one of the better Kinect titles out there.
If you want to fire up that old Kinect once more, then Beatsplosion and the team at the Virtual Air Guitar Company lets you do just that with an addictive game that works extremely well.
If only it had a few more tunes to smash our oxides and neutrinos to.