As previously stated many times over, the rhythm game genre is one that is fairly new to me, but with having the willingness to play titles like Love Live School Idol Fest and Project Diva 2nd F, I have been slowly warming up to the prospect. With this year seeing the release of Persona 4 Dancing All Night and Hatsune Miku: Project Mirai DX in English-speaking territories, SUPERBEAT: XONiC is another upcoming one from developer Nurijoy and PM Studios. Yes, the same staff of DJMAX fame. Having the chance to play it ahead of the November 10th release thanks to the independent publisher Acttil, I am already seeing a lot to like about it….even though my performance is anything close to admirable.
Upon starting up SUPERBEAT: XONiC, for the most part, it does seem to be and have a very rudimentary and homespun feel to it, but certainly not lacking any of the design prowess. Everything from the minimalist opening to the menus strikes a nice balance between simplicity and visual style, yet the former is more prominent. Being far outclassed by the DJMAX series in terms of presentation like the music videos during play, I know that it will probably disappoint a few fans of how barebones the game is on aesthetic appeal, but as a newcomer to the genre, I can do without the music video backgrounds as it is hard enough to concentrate on hitting the notes and find it very distracting. Yes, that is directed at you Project Diva. Underwhelming visuals aside, with a title centering around music as the selling point and major focus, SUPERBEAT: XONiC does at least hold up on that front and where the main concern should rest.
Claiming to have over 50 tracks (still using the 27 defaults), there is or appears to be a nice spread of tunes and styles. R&B, Techno Pop, Big Beat, Electro House, and a ton more that can come to mind, if you have a certain preference then it’s quite possible you can find it. Not all that keen on many of the artist that had a hand in the tracks, a large major seem to come from some pretty prolific names and composed the music just for the game. While most of the genres and styles of music I have some passing interest in, sadly, very few tracks have inspired me to look up the artist or type, but still have no problem playing through them. At any rate, I think the music alone will be a decent enough pull for some prospective buyers since the rest of the game is plays out just as expected. Although, l will save specifics for the future review.
If I do have to comment on one other aspect of the game it would have to be the controls. Being someone who never liked using the Vita’s touchscreen due how quickly it looks like a crime scene gone wrong littered with fingerprints and smudges that I can’t stand seeing, I will admit that games like this one lends itself well to it. Of course, since my hands are a little bigger than a normal person, I find myself using both to support hold the back while I use my thumbs and index finger to hit the incoming notes. And while the game is devoid of the visual distractions, the beatmapping can be a real exercise just trying keep tabs on where the notes will land, something most seasoned rhythm fiends will scoff at, yet tough enough for a novice. However, with the game fairly generous with its count toward your combo and kind enough on the difficulty you opt to play at, I would rate a very sincere challenge. As one of many titles that does have PSTV support, I can only imagine that the control scheme and options are way more manageable than the touchscreen, but again, probably more preferable and the only advantage the little handheld powerhouse can provide.
However, unlike other games that seem to throw you into the fray, SUPERBEAT: XONiC does seem to emphasis learning to play and why I think it would be a good fit for beginners. With the game containing a story mode of sorts (World Tour mode), most of the progress you can make is locked by behind a RPG mechanic where you gain a certain amount of experience that leads you to level up based on performance for songs you complete. Keeping long combos going and scoring high usually leads to a better personal evaluation as well as getting more experience. Again, a few people might not like this aspect, but since you level up outside World Tour doing the other modes and a fine excuse for practicing (especially trying to top the global leaderboards), the system does provide some incentive and competition for “gitting gud” as the kids say. Who knows, practice enough and you can have skills like this fellow (you can find more of justonegamr’s performances here.)
With a little more to touch upon and will have to put it aside for now, so far, SUPERBEAT: XONiC is another simple rhythm game that is inching me a little more closer to the genre. Being way too soon to bestow any type of definitive judgement, that still doesn’t dissuade me from saying how much I have been enjoying the title, despite the few gripes I have with it. I still don’t see scores improving by much, but let’s just call it a work in progress for now.