Superbeat: XONiC (PS Vita review)

Superbeat-Xonic-Nov-10

By Xchel Monroy

The PlayStation Vita seems to never be in a shortage of good rhythm games, and SUPERBEAT: XONiC proves that there’s still room in the its library for more. Developed by Nurijoy and PM Studios (the same people who brought us the DJMax Technika series, and by that same name, DJMax Technika Tune), SUPERBEAT: XONiC is a rhythm-based game where you tap to the beat of the notes. Thus far, it has surprised me in many ways and is worth it if you’re a fan of rhythm games as I am.

Gameplay

As with many other rhythm games on the PS Vita (which include the Hatsune Miku: Project Diva series and Persona 4: Dancing All Night), SUPERBEAT: XONiC is open to many different input methods. Like the aforementioned games, you can use touch and analog input to tap to the beat of songs. Face buttons, analog stick, shoulder buttons and touch screen are all used to great effect. I find that the touch controls, however, feel the most intuitive to use in conjunction with the analog stick. It all meshes together very well and once you get into the ‘sweet spot’ of the rhythm of a song, it starts to feel natural to even switch between styles of input.

The game features 3 different modes of difficulty. As we all know, difficulty can make or break a good rhythm game. Thankfully, SUPERBEAT: XONiC balances this well with 4 TRAX, 6 TRAX and 6 TRAX FX. 4 TRAX mode uses only 2 face buttons on each side and is a great start for beginners or even a relaxing way to enjoy a song for experts. 6 TRAX is what you would call the game’s “normal” difficulty, removing the entry barrier by using almost all note types. Then you have the game’s “hard mode”, 6 TRAX FX. This mode introduces shoulder button inputs and ‘tap and hold’ notes, further increasing the challenge. 6 TRAX FX is no joke; it makes some songs so difficult, it would give even the most diehard StepMania fans something to write home about.

Clearing a song in SUPERBEAT: XONiC is simple: you start each stage with a power bar and in order to pass a song, you just have to keep it from emptying out by tapping to the notes with good timing. If it drops to zero, however, the song won’t end immediately but you won’t get any points for progress and you will fail. ‘Fever mode’ is triggered when you fill the bar in the top right with good beat combos.

The game has two main modes: ‘Stage’ mode lets you play any 3 songs back to back after you select a difficulty, but failing any of the 3 songs results in a game over. Then you have ‘FREE STYLE’ mode which allows you to (as the name implies) play any song you’d like (provided you’ve unlocked it, of course). Clearing songs also unlocks other in-game stuff, like DJ Avatars, songs, beat sounds and more. There’s also World Tour, which sets you up with challenges to complete (for example, not missing a certain number of notes) and awards you with new stages every few levels.

Gameplay Rating: 3.5 out of 5 AtomsNR 3_5 Atoms - B-

Superbeat-Xonic

Sound & Visuals

Now this is where the game shines. Very few rhythm games have a diverse offering of genres when it comes to songs. Most games usually stick with songs specific to their respective series background (Vocaloid songs in Hatsune Miku: Project Diva series, Persona songs in Persona 4: Dancing All Night, etc.). SUPERBEAT: XONiC, however, goes against the grain by having a robust selection of songs from different genres. In fact, I’d even say there are more genres covered in here than most games have in songs. It covers genres such as Electro House, Techno, Gypsy Jazz, Sludge Metal, Piano Trance, and K-Pop. And that’s just scratching the surface. Each song is accompanied by a nice loading image, and in some cases even a music video. The only thing I would recommend beyond the great tracklist is an equally great pair of headphones. Believe me, you’ll definitely appreciate the music more when it’s in higher quality than the stock PS Vita speakers.

Unfortunately, visuals is a department that the game could’ve used a slight improvement in. While games like the Project Diva series and Persona 4: Dancing All Night had ‘performances’ with characters in tune to the music, SUPERBEAT: XONiC just uses what amounts to a ‘visualizer screensaver’ for the background during songs. That is to say there is nothing wrong with that; the Dance Dance Revolution series does that with many songs, but it seems more like a ‘shortcut’ to songs that wouldn’t have an accompanying video with it. One of the few exceptions is Heavy Day from Guilty Gear which has a full music video to go with it. A minor gripe, but nothing that would deter someone on the fence about buying the game.

Sound & Visuals Rating: 4 out of 5 Atoms         

NR 4 Atoms - B

XONiC1S

Final Reaction

SUPERBEAT: XONiC is a refreshing experience on the PS Vita. While you’ve got games like the Project Diva series and Persona 4: Dancing All Night that stick to a specific set of genres with songs (some of which are heavily rooted in their Japanese origins), this game offers a robust set of music that fans of varying tastes in music will come to enjoy. EDM, metal, J-Pop, K-Pop; you name it and this game will probably have a few songs you will enjoy and want to replay on repeat.

This game is a treat for all rhythm game fans and anyone who enjoys music in general. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants something different to the PS Vita’s current offerings, and it’s not a bad way to spend a weekend (or at least, a few minutes in line or on the bus).

Superbeat: XONiC Rating: 4 out 5 Atoms

NR 4 Atoms - B(1)

SUPERBEAT: XONiC
Developer: PM Studio
Genre: Rhythm Game
Platfrom: PlayStation Vita
Release Date: November 11th, 2015
Price: $39.99

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