hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Review: KickBeat

2:00 PM on 09.02.2013 // Chris Carter
  @DtoidChris

Kick, punch, it's all in the rhythm

KickBeat is an interesting prospect. Developed by a studio mostly known for pinball games, it seeks to combine the fighting and rhythm genres, offering up an experience for new and hardened gamers alike.

It's a tall order, but once you really get going and it takes off its training wheels, KickBeat starts to shine -- you just might have to charge through some repetitive content to get there.

KickBeat (PS3, Vita [reviewed])
Developer: Zen Studios
Publisher: Zen Studios
Released: September 3, 2013
MSRP: $9.99 (Cross-Buy)

Set to the backdrop of a relatively hokey (and somewhat endearing) story involving kung fu and music, KickBeat pits you against enemies in a small, circular arena, as they all fall in one by one to beat your face in. Foes come in a yellow, blue, and red variety, which signify different beats -- single, double, and simultaneous beats respectively. As enemies fall in, they'll come at you in a certain direction, which is tied to the placement of a face button -- so, up for the triangle button, left for square, and so on. The moment the enemy steps up (the "next up" is highlighted in white), you hit the appropriate button. It's that simple.

At least, when the game is giving you tons of simple yellow enemies -- notes, so to speak -- it's simple. Then the game mixes things up with quicker notes, enemies with auras that require you to hold a note then release, two notes at the same time (reds), power-ups, and a star-power like mechanic. The Vita has the added mechanic of allowing touch-screen controls, but it's not really a game-changer as I ended up using the face buttons again shortly after testing it.

Unlike most rhythm games, having a health meter on-hand actually makes sense, since getting hit will literally lessen your bar, leaving you one step closer to a failed song. As you're beating up people you'll earn Chi, which functions similar to Rock Band's star power. It helps to earn you more points and is best used when going for a high combo rate.

Some enemies have icons above their heads, which you can grab if you hit the button a second time right after kicking them (which can get really tough when there are lots of blue and red dudes). There's an attack power-up to quickly blast on-screen baddies, a shield to block a few attacks, health, and extra points. Together, all of these mechanics combine into one incredibly satisfying game that delivers enough excitement to keep you going.

If you've played rhythm games before you will want to jump straight into hard difficulty. It rids the screen of the QTE-like button cues and adds a whole new dimension to the game since you have to constantly pay attention and go with your instincts. It's kind of like the harder difficulties in Rocksteady's Arkham games that eliminate the counter prompts --  much more challenging and a whole lot of fun.

The humble Lee is one of the stars of the game's story mode, and he's mostly forgettable, as the gameplay is clearly the focus of KickBeat. The story itself has its highs and lows involving a typical Saturday morning cartoon big bad, but once it was all said and done, I just wanted to play more challenging songs rather than ever go through it again. At first I had a concern over the lack of enemy variety since the first few levels just featured ninjas, but this was alleviated later on in the game as wrestlers, hi-tech soldiers, and more show up for a beat down.

Of course, a rhythm game is only as good as its track list, and as soon as some of you hear what's on offer you may be running for the hills. You ready for some name drops? Marilyn Manson,  P.O.D., Papa Roach. Wait, where are you going?! While there are a few questionable rap, rock, and nu metal tracks on offer that'll make you recall your most awkward of high school moments, they're completely tolerable when combined with the strong gameplay foundation KickBeat offers. I wasn't blown away by the less popular tracks, but for the most part I did enjoy them and I didn't feel compelled to quit any of them since I was having so much fun.

After you're done with story mode you can tackle Mai's quest (the second star of the campaign, who basically has the exact same progression as Lee, just with different cutscenes), free play mode, Beat Your Music mode, and Survival. Sadly, all of these aren't on offer right away, as you have to complete the story mode multiple times to unlock everything. My biggest disappointment was learning that I couldn't just play any song I wanted on any difficulty. You have to actually beat that song in the respective difficulty's story mode first.

For instance, I started playing through the story twice on normal, then tackled a few hard songs before I quickly realized that I was more than ready for Master, but I couldn't play my song of choice in Master mode until I beat every level on hard, then completed every single Master stage to unlock everything. It's a really jarring and backwards way of withholding content, especially for rhythm gurus who could even start on Master without working their way through the remedial levels. On top of all this, you have to beat the game nearly four times to unlock Survival mode, which is an incredibly odd design choice.

Beat Your Music is where you're going to get the most legs out of KickBeat though, and it doesn't require too much effort to unlock. If you can't stand the soundtrack, you can import songs, score the BPM, and play custom levels. The way it works is you put a song on your PS3 or Vita, tap a button to "find" the rhythm, and the game will provide an enemy set for it. It's set up very similarly to Audiosurf in that it's not perfect, but it works well enough to keep things interesting and fun.

KickBeat's polarizing soundtrack is perhaps its toughest sell, but if you can overcome it with an open mind and dig into Beat Your Music, there's a really solid rhythm game underneath it that'll have you tapping your feet (and your fingers) for quite some time. I really wish the developers had more content unlocked at the start, but if you have a bit of patience you'll have a blast in no time.



THE VERDICT

8

KickBeat - Reviewed by Chris Carter
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Chris Carter, Reviews Director
 Follow Blog + disclosure DtoidChris Tips
Chris (Magnalon) has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! -----------... more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

nanashi avatarnanashi
also Fallout Shelter just made me utter this: "I have to get these pregnancies done.." life is trivial in this game!
Mr Knives avatarMr Knives
Let it be known that Metal Gear 2 for MXS has aged horribly and is no fun to play. In the midst of a MGS marathon, looks like I'm skipping ahead to MGS.
Rad Party God avatarRad Party God
"Available: 31 August - This game will unlock in approximately 2 hours" HOLY SHIET! [youtube]https://youtu.be/9jK-NcRmVcw[/youtube]
nanashi avatarnanashi
-nudge nudge- hey Sony, discount Ys: I and II Chronicles and Ys: Seven on the PSP :D
RadicalYoseph avatarRadicalYoseph
Just out of curiosity, does anybody here still play Mario Kart 8 at all frequently?
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
Neighbors ended up calling the cops. I hid under a cardboard box. Police officers were perplexed but went back to their patrol routes after a minute or so.
techsupport avatartechsupport
!a new MGS: Ground Zeroes update file auto dl'd and installed..the day prior to MGSV... hmm.. coincidence? OR... coincidence?
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
Just got an email from Nintendo saying that my Club Nintendo reward has been shipped and is on its way. Now it's the end of an era. *pours one out for Club Nintendo*
wutangclam avatarwutangclam
I've been thinking of starting up a criticism-minded "game of the month" type podcast. Would anyone be interested in something like that? If you'd wanna be part of it, let me know, I'm generating ideas and looking for contributors
CJ Andriessen avatarCJ Andriessen
Playing the most difficult strategy game ever: trying to figure out what order to beat your backlog in.
ChillyBilly avatarChillyBilly
Transient Ryu stays ripped by riding the rails and throwing other transients off of his rail cars - [IMG]http://i22.photobucket.com/albums/b321/Felth/homeless%20ryu.jpg~original[/IMG]
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
I'm so, so sorry everyone. :(
kolten2 avatarkolten2
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJCiF5dBSpweeStTjOqu-uA/videos
TheAngriestCarp avatarTheAngriestCarp
I'm pretty sure you guys know what game I'll be playing tomorrow. One of THE hottest games of the season. That's right, I'm talking about Lunch Truck Tychoon. Kojima ain't got shit on me, mukkas!
Flegma avatarFlegma
Playing Project Zero 2 on Wii. One should hope PZ5 got more sensible controls - twisting the Wiimote left/right to turn the camera does not make sense.
Barry Kelly avatarBarry Kelly
"When you are not playing the game or choose not to join the defense, your FOB will be defended automatically by your Security Team and security devices." Yeah, I think I'll just avoid the FOB functionality in MGS V
Snaveage avatarSnaveage
PSA: If you're picking up Phantom Pain tomorrow, put the kids down for a nap, turn off your phone and tell your partner to pipe down - the opening hour deserves your undivided attention. Enjoy!
extatix avatarextatix
If you like your hentai VNs [url="https://groupees.com/vn3"]cheap.[/url] Or even [url="https://www.indiegala.com/manga"]cheaper[/url].
VeryImportantQuestion avatarVeryImportantQuestion
Just read that SquareEnix have applied some weird mutation of crowdfunding mechanics to the Deus Ex: Mankind Divided preorder. I know the last blog I wrote mentioned how big publishers try to pervert these systems, but to think it's already this far gone.
Cosmonstropolis avatarCosmonstropolis
First in line to grab MGS V tomorrow. Close to my house, so it looks like I can eat and sleep comfortably. No one else seems to be waiting at my mailbox. Neighbors are getting suspicious.
more quickposts


Contest!


destructoid's previous coverage:
KickBeat


  Jan 13

PC Port Report: KickBeat

Drowning out the native soundtrack just got easier


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!



Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -