Superbeat: XONiC (Vita) Review

Jae Lee

Don’t miss a super beat.

The quality of a rhythm game is a bit hard to quantify. After all, whether a person likes the songs included in the title is entirely based on opinion, and ultimately it ends up being a huge part of whether or not he/she will end up enjoying the game.

In that regard, it’s important to look closely at its gameplay mechanics, and how fun it is to actually play the songs rather than dwelling on the music itself.

Even though I found the song list in SUPERBEAT: XONIC a bit underwhelming, the gameplay proved itself to be one of the most polished and fun I’ve encountered in a rhythm game thus far.

While initially looking quite simple, there’s actually a lot going on in terms of mechanics.

While initially looking quite simple, there’s actually a lot going on in terms of mechanics.

While there is no other rhythm game by the name of “Superbeat”, XONiC is actually a spiritual successor to the DJMax series.

The long running PSP series saw only a few limited releases in the States, but in actuality has seen quite a number of sequels over the years.

The DJMax games were known for the colorful FMVs that would play in the background of the track, and oddly enough, in XONiC those are mostly absent.

In their stead is a visualization effect that shifts based on the tempo and pitch of the music, and while providing ambience, they never proved to be distracting.

It feels as though there was a major shift towards the visibility of the notes for the best playing experience possible, and even though I missed some of the silly FMVs from the old DJMax games, I found this to be a superior playing experience with them gone.

Leveling up and earning new icons, modifiers and songs was an addictive process.

Leveling up and earning new icons, modifiers and songs was an addictive process.

It wouldn’t surprise any rhythm game fan that there are notes that fly across the screen that must be pressed using the correct designated button at the right time.

As the notes came flying in from the center of the screen, it’s was entirely possible for me keep my focus on the center of the screen and just press the notes when I felt like it would be appropriate in accordance with the music, and this actually worked quite well.

It’s the mark of a good rhythm game to really put an emphasis on the notes placement so that they actually make sense to press in that moment because frankly, it’s much simpler to keep them arbitrary.

There were 4 Tracks, 6 Tracks and 6 Tracks FX mode, which designated the different amount of notes I needed to be prepared to hit. However, even though the “4 Tracks” would lead most to believe that there are only 4 buttons to worry about, there are always 4 more on top due to the use of the analog sticks.

Pressing up or down on the two analog sticks acted as buttons as well and this actually meant that in 6 Tracks FX mode, I was responsible for 12 different inputs.

As daunting as this seemed at first, I found myself getting the hang of 6FX after a bit of practice, and even though I couldn’t get close to scoring on the tougher songs on this difficulty, I appreciated the challenge.

The game could also be played using the buttons/analog stick or entirely through the use of the touch screen, but I would suggest using the buttons, as the vita screen is a bit too small to get a good control on things.

Outside of the standard play modes, there was also a world tour mode that played like a challenge mode, awarding new icons and modifiers if I managed to complete them.

Lastly, there was a leader board that took a record of my performance in all the different modes and stacked them against the other players of the world.

Given how my ranking was easy to see no matter what I was doing in the game, I found myself being motivated to perform a bit better to increase my rank, and found its implementation to be cleverly designed.

Unfortunately, there is no multiplayer, or even a jukebox I could use to listen to the various songs I’ve unlocked. While not completely necessary, they would’ve been nice additions to increase the longevity of the game.

Yes, this is an actual song in the game and yes, of course it rocks.

Yes, this is an actual song in the game and yes, of course it rocks.

Going back to the topic of the song list- there are something like 45 songs included, featuring many different genres of music, but they must be unlocked by gaining experience by playing songs and increasing one’s level.

It’s a process that takes a bit of grinding, and honestly I would have much preferred to have all the songs except a select few unlocked from the get go and used the leveling system to get icons and modifiers.

Even though I wasn’t as big of a fan of the song list in XONiC compared to other DJMax games, the developers at PM Studios prove themselves to be back in top form with a slick package that plays just as well as it looks.

Fun Tidbit – It should go without saying but you really need to play this game with headphones. Also, there are supposedly DLC planned including songs from Blazblue/Guilty Gear games but their release date and pricing has yet to be determined.

Review copy of game provided by publisher.

Good

  • Good implementation of leaderboards
  • Nice variety of genres in the song list
  • Easy to pick up and play with a high skill ceiling

Bad

  • Songs take a while to unlock
  • Lacking modes like multiplayer and jukebox
8

Great

Jae Lee

Jae has been a gamer ever since he got a Nintendo when he was just a child. He has a passion for games and enjoys writing. While he worries about the direction gaming as a medium might be headed, he’s too busy playing games to do anything about it.

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