Superbeat: Xonic is a music rhythm game with a difference. Developed by a group of designers who have previously worked at Pentavision on the DJMax franchise, it focuses on a rather distinctive circular based system for hitting notes in time with the music. While this helps it stand out from the likes of Rock band and Guitar Hero, just how fun is it?
The basis of Superbeat is something that you will all be familiar with. You simply pick and song and prepare to hit the on-screen notes as accurately as possible. However, the notes don’t fly towards the bottom of the screen or flow from side to side. Instead they emerge from the center, flying out towards two bars on either side of the screen. When the note reaches the sidebar, it is your cue to hit the appropriate button. The controls work with the face buttons corresponding to the right bar and the D-pad matching up with the left. You’ll also have to flick or hold the appropriate analog stick in certain sections too.
The controls can be incredibly tricky to master. Although you are only having to press a small selection of buttons, remembering where everything is and mixing in the analog stick for particular sections means things can get complicated very quickly. This is more a problem of the title being ported from the PS Vita where is had touch controls in addition to the standard scheme. Using your fingers to trigger the notes on a screen seems to be a much more manageable system as you have an innate understanding of where you need to move your hands.
Yet, after a few hours of playing Superbeat, the movement will start to become second nature. It was much the same with games like Guitar Hero, where you would slowly start to increase the difficutly as you became more experienced.
The songs themselves can also be incredibly challenging. Despite being a rather seasoned player of music rhythm games, I found Superbeat a bit overwhelming at times. It only takes one missed note to lose your groove completely and not be able to recover quickly enough. This isn’t helped by the difficulty rating system. Many of the songs seem to not match up with their supposed level of challenge, making it much harder to progress naturally as you can’ tell if the next piece of music is going to be incredibly difficult or relatively easy.
There are a total of three different modes in Superbeat. Freestyle is a straightforward that lets you experiment with each song but it is the Stage and World Tour mode where the bulk of the gameplay lies. World Tour is the best, but most challenging section, requiring you to meet certain requirements to unlock new items and songs. These usually revolve around getting a certain score or achieving a particular combo.
In terms of unlockable content, the game goes beyond simply providing new songs. There are a variety of icons and perks that can change the way you play the game by providing modifiers. Unlocking all of these extra is no easy feat and you’ll have to spend dozens of hours to even get close. This adds extra replay value to a title that already has plenty thanks to the high-score system and the addictive nature of wanting to constantly improve.
A music game is only ever as good as its music and in that respect, Superbeat: Xonic is definitely going to be something that does not appeal to everyone. As a South Korean developed game, most of the tracks come from that market and there is an eclectic range of songs. Some of the genres include pop, metal, rock, and RnB, with the total number of songs being 65. I went into the game with no knowledge of any of the songs but soon found some favorites. The chance to play a whole collection of tunes that you might not ever heave heard before could be exciting for some, though it is easy to see how others could be put off.
Superbeat: Xonic is certainly a unique game and yet the lack of Western music and a high price-point of $39.00 might well put many players off. With bright and colorful visuals, that will instantly remind you of an arcade, this is a game that fills a very specific niche. If you want to experience a refreshing take on the rhythm genre then there is no better place to start, especially considering the sheer amount of content and replay value it contains.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. Superbeat: Xonic is available now on Xbox One and PlayStation 4 priced at $39.99.