I’m not particularly good at most rhythm games. Unless it involves some sort of plastic peripheral and exists as an excuse to get drunk with my friends, I usually just steer clear. But when I played SUPERBEAT XONiC from the Korean development team at Nurijoy I certainly changed my tune. The flashy graphics and amazingly diverse soundtrack made for an interesting playthrough. If you have a PlayStation Vita, then allow me to tell you why this could be a great addition to your library.
This is a game clearly designed by people with an eye for graphic design. There are some very sleek and modern geometric shapes combined with flashy and brightly saturated colors. Playing through every song gives you a great sense of feeling like you’re DJing some crazy, intergalactic dance party. The art style is somewhat reminiscent of games like Tap Tap Revolution on iOS and Android, but with some anime inspired flare. Of course, a rhythm game can have fun, flashy graphics all it wants but it isn’t worth a damn if the music selection blows. So let’s talk music!
The soundtrack to SUPERBEAT XONiC is an eclectic mix of various music genres. From K-Pop, to House and Dubstep. From video game soundtrack pieces to salsa music. There is a little bit of something for most music tastes. The bulk of the tracks are definitely more dance-centric, as it pulls a lot of inspiration from DDR. But where games like that have a staggering amount of somewhat abrasive J-Pop, SUPERBEAT gives some pretty wide variety.
Like any other rhythm game, the point of SUPERBEAT XONiC is to hit specific notes on beat with the background music. The game does have touchscreen functionality on the Vita, but I’m not big on the Vita’s touch controls. (The system just seems too bulky to rely on using the touchscreen.) So if you’re like me and want to use the analog controls, it is laid out like this: notes come down the line in four different quadrants. There is the left half of the screen, which is split into top and bottom. Those are controlled by the Down and Up arrows on the D-Pad, as well as the Left Joystick. The right half of the screen is controlled using the Triangle and X buttons along with the Right Joystick. There are simple, solid notes that you must hit with a timed button press or hold that button for a certain period of time. Then there are flicks and slides which are controlled with the joysticks. You must either flick the corresponding stick up or down, or slide along a held note up and down. It takes a bit of getting used to, especially since top notes are blue despite using Triangle to hit them and bottom notes are green… Messes with your head if you are used to the color coordination of the PlayStation.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of the controls there are two different game modes. Stage is a build-your-own-set mode of play with a few different options. There is Free Style, which lets you just play whatever track you want from the ones you have unlocked. This mode tallies up experience points based on combos landed. Then there is 4-Track, this is considered the beginner mode. Though it is called 4-Track you play through three songs at a fairly easy level and gain experience based on your score in each song. Next is 6-Track which increases the difficulty a bit more, but unlocks more experience per song. Then once you reach a certain DJ Level, you can unlock 6-Track FX, which adds a whole new level of difficulty and gives you access to a bunch of added effects to make the tracks sound really cool as you play them.
The other game mode is World Tour. This mode takes the tracks and adds special challenges to them to make them increasingly difficult. Some of these challenges could be hitting a certain combo before the end of the song, or only missing a certain amount of notes. Some will really up the ante by doing things like shortening draw distance, so you really have to react with ungodly precision to hit the notes. Playing in World Tour will net you a lot of experience, and unlock new DJ icons that will give you special perks such as increased HP or higher EXP bonuses. There are also certain songs that can only be unlocked by completing World Tour challenges. The levels in World Tour only unlock at certain DJ Levels, so if you haven’t quite unlocked it yet play around in Stage mode and gain some more EXP.
The gameplay of SUPERBEAT is incredibly addicting. The difficult curve can definitely be pretty steep though. I got pretty badly stuck on certain World Tour challenges. Especially that draw distance one. That was crazy hard! But you’ll never really feel frustrated to the level of rage quitting. The mistakes you make always feel like you made them, instead of the game screwing you over. There are a few tracks that are a bit too “bubblegum” for my taste, but some people might like them. All in all, a pretty fun gaming experience!
There are certainly not a shortage of rhythm games available on the PlayStation Vita, but this one stands out of the crowd. While it doesn’t carry the iconic punch that games like Persona 4: Dancing All Night or the Vocaloid games do, it has such a varied selection of music and a uniquely challenging playstyle that it is well worth checking out. While not a perfect game, as some of the challenges can be pretty tough early on and might scare some players away, it is worth the download for fans of rhythm games.