Superbeat: Xonic is a game made by brand-new studio, Nurijoy. Now, they aren’t completely new to game development, nor the music game genre. It is made up of former employees of Pentavision who created the niche, yet very popular, DJ Max series. I love music games and while I am absolutely terrible at the DJ Max games, I always have a blast playing them. But with that in mind, how does the freshman effort of Nurijoy stack up?
There are a few different gameplay modes in Superbeat. There’s the traditional stages mode which is broken up into three different styles, 4 button, 6 button and Freestyle. Similar to the DJ Max games, the different amount of buttons corresponds to the game’s difficulty by giving the player more things to keep track. So playing on 4 button mode would be easier than playing on 6 button mode. That’s not to say that the 4 button mode doesn’t have it’s challenges. Each song is a set difficulty per mode. For example, one song would always be a 1-star difficulty in 4 button that can’t be changed. If you’ve mastered the “easier” mode, then it’s just as easy to move on to 6 button mode. Similarly to DJ Max, songs are limited to certain stages. Meaning, not all songs are available all the time.
A song could only be playable as the second stage song and won’t be available in stage 1 or stage 3. Personally, I didn’t really have too much of an issue of it, but if you want to play any song in any order the Freestyle mode is for you. However, songs are unlocked playing through the stages and leveling up your DJ level. Stages is where most people will undoubtedly spend most of their time, however for those looking for a challenge there are modifiers that will change how the notes scroll on the screen. A lot like some of the modifiers in Dance Dance Revolution or the DJ Max games. Â For those who need to test the limits of their abilities, lies the World Tour.
World Tour is similar to the Stages, but a little bit different. There are different “worlds” that have three levels with varying difficulty. Each level has a selection of songs to play through with certain conditions. Stuff like achieving a 50 note combo, or beating the setlist with less than 10 misses. Of course, the game will throw in some modifiers to spice things up as well. It’s always fun to see music games with more modes, and World Tour will certainly give those players who crave that extra challenge something to strive for. Personally, I found the World Tour difficulty ramped up way too fast. The first world wasn’t too difficult, but I was hoping a steady progression. The second world immediately started using “hidden” modifiers that would cause the notes to suddenly appear right before the target and had the win condition of no more than 10 misses. For the second world, I thought it was a bit much.
Modes are good and dandy, but a rhythm game lives or dies on it’s gameplay. I’ve made lots of parallels with the DJ Max series in this review so far. Given the pedigree of the developer, it stands to reason. DJ Max enabled the player to feel like they were a DJ, outside of the Technica sub-series of games. Superbeat Xonic is a lot closer to a beat matching game like Dance Dance Revolution. Depending on whether you are playing 4-button or 6-button mode, there are two to three lanes on each side. There are standard notes and hold notes, but there are also swipe and slide notes. Swipe notes are notes that need to be quickly swiped in one direction when the yellow gems cross the target. Slide notes are like a combination of swipe and hold notes. You hold the button and slide along the path. Also the game utilizes the touch screen and the buttons for two different input options.
For a music game, comfortability in inputs is important. Some people prefer to use buttons, others the touch screen. I found it easier to use the touch screen because having to switch between the face buttons and the analog sticks weren’t comfortable and took too long to me. Fairly simple mechanics, and when they work, they feel amazing. Getting into a flow of it feels really good. The problem I have is some of the visual identifiers. As I said, there are two to three lanes that notes can come down towards the targets. I feel like the targets should have been colored slightly differently to correspond to the different lanes. I’ve found myself hitting the wrong lane with the touch screen because I was slightly off. It was incredibly frustrating. Especially with regards to the slide notes.
Yeah? But what about the music? I absolutely loved the music here. There was a lot of high energy songs and some really chill beats. While the game does skew more towards electronic-ish music, there are a few songs that are more rock based. But it really does run the gamut offering some Hip-Hop, Dance Pop, Break Beats, and Acid Jazz. You won’t find any licensed tracks here, but it doesn’t really matter when what is in the game is a great listen. There are quite a few songs already unlocked from the beginning, and more are still unlockable by leveling up your DJ level and playing through the different modes. There’s even a song from Guilty Gear Xrd. I miss unlockable songs in music games even though I enjoy the DLC method other series use, like Rock Band and DJ Hero.
Despite a few flaws, playing Superbeat: Xonic was fantastic. I enjoyed quite a few of the songs here and the gameplay itself is simple to get into. Having two control options was a wonderful inclusion, even though I exclusively used the touch screen. There’s enough content here to get several hours of play and with the DJ level, progressing to unlock more songs and icons for bonuses is a great, well, bonus. I can’t extol the virtues of Superbeat: Xonic enough, and the fact that I can play on either the Vita or the Playstation TV is an incredible boon to the game. Even if I didn’t really like button controls.