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Kickbeat Steam Edition Review

kickbeat_steam (1)

I will not lie to you, Rhythm Games pretty much died with Rock Band. At the time, Rock Band and Guitar Hero were dominating the music game market with the clever creation of game controllers turned musical instruments. However, just because the two powerhouses died a few years ago, this does not mean people try to keep the genre alive. Zen Studios has created a new take on the rhythm game genre with Kickbeat Steam Edition. The game was previously released on consoles but the release on Steam has additional content compared to the previous release. Having never played the console version I did play this game with a controller to see what it was like.

All of the world’s music is contained in a sphere. The one who controls the sphere, controls all the music that has been made, and will be made throughout all eternity. There are people in the world who wish to gain control of the sphere, that is why there is an ancient order of kung-fu masters protecting the orb from anyone who wishes to gain its power. Times are changing, and technology is growing, the temple where the Music Sphere is located is invaded by the most powerful man in all of media entertainment. Now his radio is the only one with music, it is up to a young man and woman to stop this greedy business man.

While the story is not great, it is not bad either. It reminds me of a Netflix movie, relatively charming, but not winning any awards. Besides, this is a kung-fu driven music game, the story is going to reflect that novelty, and that is possibly the best part about it. The game has two story modes, one with Lee and one with Mei. Mei is the romance character in the story and the game plays similar, just has different character models and some different songs etc.

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The gameplay is what makes Kickbeat unique. A majority of rhythm games use arrows and bars to dictate what the player has to do. So the somewhat distracting visual presentation is taken out in Kickbeat. Your visual queues are the enemies you fight. There are three colors to keep track of because they all act differently. Yellow enemies move and attack on normal beats, they are the most common enemy. Blue Enemies are faster and generally come in pairs, they attack on half beats. Red enemies are a pair and they attack at the same time. Songs all use these enemy colors, their model depends on the level. In addition, there are boss fights that take place. The same gameplay is used, but the fighting is different. For example, when you fight on the roof of a building late in the game, a helicopter is shooting missiles at you. The missiles have colors and act like the enemies you have been fighting through the game.

The biggest thing about rhythm games is obviously the soundtrack. So how does Kickbeat’s fare? Well the music mostly contains techno/electronica music with some rock and about 1/3 hip-hop. The variety is not too bad and the tunes are rather good. For the style of game Kickbeat is, the soundtrack does a great job of getting you in the mood and pumped for the fights. For the Steam edition, quite a bit of additional songs were added, artists include POD, Rob Zombie, Papa Roach, and enV. In addition to the music Zen Studios has provided, you can create your own stages with your music. However, this process is not user friendly and there is no tutorial on how to use it. This is a massive drawback to the game.

Other than the hard to use “Beat Your Music” gameplay mode, Kickbeat is surprisingly fun. Technical issues on Steam are minimal but a massive problem I have encountered more than once is that my game does not save properly. It is most likely user error but I wanted to make note of it just in case. The Soundtrack is good, and the character models are well designed. I really enjoyed the style the cutscenes were done in as well, it showcases the art for the game really well. Kickbeat controls well, but like Guitar Hero it may take you a few songs to get into the groove (HA).

Kickbeat is a surprisingly interesting game with something to offer for the genre. It works well on steam and the full controller support is brilliant. Both control schemes work very well so the choice is up to you. The replay value is pretty moderate. The two campaigns and all the difficulty modes/unlockables offer a lot, but sadly the limited soundtrack hinders the game’s replay value because you will be hearing the same songs over and over again. I give Kickbeat Steam Edition a 7/10. You can get it obviously on Steam now. Or you can pick the game up on PS3, it supports the Vita cross save function.

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