PSN/PS Vita Review: KickBeat

Wax on, wax off!

Wax on, wax off!

By: Uma Smith

Zen Studios is primarily known for the pinball games it creates for almost all of today’s gaming consoles as well as portable devices. However, this time around Zen is taking a different approach to gaming. In fact, they’re combining two genres (fighting and rhythm) into an interesting mix to create KickBeat, currently available as a cross-buy for both the PlayStation 3 and Vita. How lethal is this mix going to be to players?

CONTROLS (4.75/5)

While the controls are very straightforward with the use of mainly the face buttons, you’ll still need to make sure that you tap the correct buttons to the beat of the music; an in-game tutorial acquaints you with the mechanics of this system quite well. Although the actual gameplay will get tough when you’re trying to successfully execute attacks according to the rhythm, KickBeat is quite responsive. So that means you have only yourself to blame for failing to pull off attacks. Understanding the controls won’t take much time, but the real test lies in mastering them.

GRAPHICS/SOUND (4/5)

Kickbeat’s appearance is very attractive and appealing on account of the variety of colors and degree of detail on the environments and characters. There’s a lot of shine and crazy animation from the action that takes place on screen. Whether you’re playing on the big screen or the Vita, KickBeat has plenty to offer in the visuals department.

Whether you’ll enjoy the audio behind this game depends on your genre of music that you find “funky.” In KickBeat, the tunes could include rap, techno, and even heavy metal. While the tracks are pretty uplifting and exciting, your enjoyment level could be limited depending on your musical tastes.

GAMEPLAY (4/5)

KickBeat will have you fighting against an evil corporation that happens to have stolen the world’s music. In response, you’ll need to travel to various places on the planet and fight off enemies as you track down the company’s boss. When you enter into each arena, you’ll have the gangsters surround you as you try to fight them off one by one. In order to do so, however, you’ll need to press the corresponding buttons that appear on screen to the beat of the music playing in the background. These enemies will come mainly in three different colors, which will have them attack in specific patterns.

Although the idea is not original, KickBeat’s approach does help distinguish it from other games of the same ilk. Considering the number of enemy types that you’ll constantly be facing, the game delivers quite a challenge that adds fun and replayability to the table. As you progress further in KickBeat within a level, you’ll encounter the boss, which will change up the gameplay a bit, thereby adding some diversity to the experience other than just simply pressing the needed buttons on screen. However, in time, the game can feel a bit repetitive. Luckily, the different scenery and music will somewhat alleviate this issue.

Right from the start, you’ll have to play as Lee before you get the chance to select another character, Mei. Once you do unlock her, you’ll get to experience a different point of view to the story. By playing through the campaign, you’ll also get the opportunity to unlock additional content; such as modes, including survival and free play, that will begin to appear.

One rewarding mode to work toward is called “Beat Your Music” where you get to create your own level. Specifically, you’ll be providing your own music and setting the song’s BPM. It’s always great to have the option of playing your favorite tracks while fighting away at the baddies. Although such a feature may not revolutionize the genre, it does enhance the game’s replay value even further.

OVERALL (4/5)

KickBeat may not be the most complex or original rhythm game out there, but you’ll most likely get a “kick” out of the funky beats offered. Furthermore, the fact that you can get both the PlayStation 3 and Vita versions for $9.99 should be something that you can dig.

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About Herija Green

Avid gamer, adventurous lover and all-around damned handsome man...
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