Superbeat: Xonic Review

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 Title: Superbeat Xonic
Developer: Nurijoy
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Game Type: Vita
Download: 2.8 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail

EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail
PSTV Support: 
Yes

Music games are a pretty rare breed, but the PS Vita has gotten a good few of them in its lifetime.  In the West, the Vita has gotten two Hatsune Miku: Project Diva games and another hopeful is in development in Japan.  It has also gotten Persona 4: Dancing All Night and can play a few rhythm games due to backwards compatibility.  I wouldn’t call it a Music Game consoles, but it has had its fair share of music games.

One franchise that portable fans have known to be extreme is the DJ Max franchise.  However, there haven’t been new titles for that series in a good while.  The last non-Mobile DJ Max game was Technika Tune for the Vita, released more than 3 years ago.  However, some people who used to work for the development team behind DJ Max founded a new company and have released a new rhythm game that is exclusive to the PS Vita.

Here is my official review of the music game, Superbeat: XONIC!

Story

Due to this game not having a story, this section shall remain blank.

Gameplay

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Xonic is a rhythm-based music game with RPG elements thrown into the mix.  While the gameplay does get intense to the point that is comparable to the “Action Rhythm” genre of the DJ Max series, I prefer to just call it a music game with RPG elements thrown into the mix.

The game has five sections to its Main Menu.  Backstage shows you your stats and unlockables that you’ve gained access to during your game progress.  DJ Ranking is kind of like leaderboards.  It shows how you rank up against other players in each game mode, regarding scores and your ranks and levels.  Stage lets you pick and choose songs in various playing modes.  World Tour lets you campaign around stages of the world in preset missions.  Finally, Option lets you alter the game options.

Stage is set up four different modes: 4 Trax, 6 Trax, 6 Trax FX, and Freestyle.  The first three function kind of like difficulty settings.  4T uses less buttons and less complex combos than 6T and 6T FX.  Freestyle is difficult as well, but lets you just pick whatever you want.  The others have songs set up in phases where only certain songs are available in each phase and you don’t gain access to others until later on.

World Tour is the closest you have to a campaign mode.  You have 13 different clubs you perform at, each with a set of three missions.  Each mission has a certain task for you to complete across a certain number of songs.  The goal could be to get a certain combo across the songs or receiving a certain grade for doing well.  Each Club and Mission, though, have Level Requirements to perform in, so you can’t just go into any mission you want from the get-go.

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This brings up the RPG elements.  The game has a leveling system.  Whenever you complete a song, you gain Experience Points and this goes towards leveling up.  This level is shown on your profile in the Leaderboards, but also dictates what content you have access to.  Missions unlock at certain levels, but so do Clubs in World Tour.  Unfortunately, the game doesn’t tell you this.  Missions let you know what Level is required, but new Clubs just have a big lock over them and you have to just kind of figure it out on your own by getting to that level and checking back later.

Playing through each song is like playing Persona 4: Dancing All Night.  You have a hud that makes a circle around the screen and notes fly from the middle towards that boundary.  The sections are set up almost exactly like P4D’s, using the D-Pad and Face buttons for hits, or the touch screen if you prefer the touch interface.

The main differences are that there are two other types of hits.  There are Analog hits that are arrows and trigger hits for the L and R buttons.  Still, players of P4D will be a little familiar with the way the HUD looks, which is definitely a good thing.  With the amount of challenge this game has, you’ll need every advantage and prior comfort you can get.

This is the hardest Vita Music game I’ve ever played.  There are very extensive combos and part of what makes this so hard is the fact that you have some different notes for different buttons hitting at the same time.  Adding in the fact that these combos are very rapid and fast, you’ve got to have amazing hand-eye coordination to handle the game.  I set the Options down to the Easy Difficulty, and many songs still overwhelm me very easily.  This is not recommended for a beginner at the music genre.

With length, you’ve got a lot to do.  Superbeat has almost 60 tracks to play through, many of which aren’t unlocked at the beginning of the game.  Given the time of clearing each song once, it would give you roughly 4-5 hours of time.  Add in the time you’ll take doing missions and unlocking content, I’d give the game more like 8-10 hours, at least.  With a music game though, completion time isn’t all that important.  Enjoying the music is.  Still, there’s a lot to be done.

Controls

The controls for the game are good, overall, though there is a problem I’ll explain later.  The game can be controlled by touch or by buttons.  In songs, you can do whichever you like.  Some menus, though, require the use of a touch screen, or the make-shift touch controls on the PlayStation TV.  Another thing is that, like Project Diva and unlike Persona 4 Dancing, it plays and feels very different on the PSTV.  It’s much tighter and better in responses on the Vita.

Hitting notes in gameplay with buttons are done with the majority of the buttons.  On the D-Pad, the Left, Down, and Up buttons are used for hits.  Triangle, Circle, and X are also used for these hits.  Then, you have the two Analog Sticks for their notes and the two triggers for the final notes.  Note that L2 and R2 don’t have any function on the PSTV.  Just L1 and R1.

The control scheme is shown well and the game’s tutorial does an excellent job of explaining how everything works.  The problem is the finicky controls when you pause.  Since this is touch-oriented, the pause menu has a glitchy button interface.  When you pause, you can press start all you want and nothing will happen.  You have to go around and hit the D-Pad to enable access to the pause menu.  Then you can select an option to go back into the game.  The first time this happened, it took me several minutes before I figured out what to do to enable the menu controls.

Presentation

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The presentation is, by far, the best part of the game.  Visually, everything is colorful, but the audio is what really stands out.  Many rhythm games focus on a single genre of music, but Superbeat does a ton of different genres.  R&B.  Metal.  J-Pop.  Hip Hop.  You name it and it’s in here somewhere.  It’s got a great variety of different types of music to expose players to.

Performance is done very well, of course.  The load times are very short, unlike the Project Diva games, and there’s no lag to be seen.  The only complaint I have with performance is crashing problems.  I’ve had the game crash and close half a dozen times when entering the Leaderboards.  It’s enough to know that it’s a problem with the game and not just a random glitch.

Summary

Superbeat XONIC is a new music game exclusive to the PS Vita and PlayStation TV.  With a large soundtrack and very challenging gameplay, it’s a game DJ Max fans will fall in love with, despite its tendency to crash while loading the Leaderboards. 

9/10

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