It’s been awhile since I have seen a rhythm game that has caught my eye. Most are the same concept, reskinned to provide a “new” experience with some new songs. With Rock band Blitz coming soon, it’s hard to believe another rhythm game is slated for a possible-2012 release, but Zen Studios handed me a Playstation Vita loaded with one of their upcoming game, Kickbeat.
Kickbeat is a martial-arts rhythm game, giving a fresher take on the genre. You play a combatant that is surrounded by enemies and have to fend them off with your fantastical martial-arts set to one of 18 licensed songs. When I watched Neil Sorens, creative director at Zen Studios (and the man behind the premise of the game) play through a song, I won’t lie; I was skeptical. Not only does it sound silly when it was explained, but it looked just as silly.
However, after I finished playing through my first song, I wanted more. Like any other rhythm game, it took a minute or so to catch the rhythm, so to speak. The fighter swayed back and forth and enemies just start coming at you from all directions. Using the four face buttons (square, circle, x and triangle) you time your attack just before the enemy attacks. More easily explained, you just follow the beat.
The dramatic fighting moves are very entertaining, with an exaggerated style that Zen Studios made up. I actually found it a bit distracting in the beginning, to be honest, but once I got the gist of the system and how it worked, you could pay a little more attention to the surroundings.
One of the coolest things about Kickbeat as a rhythm game is the ability to put your own music in the game and play along with it. This will add some great replay value when it launches later this year for the Vita. There are some other details to the game, but in the event of writing a preview of what I played, I want to end with this; The premise sounds silly, but it works and adds a unique twist to a genre that isn’t near as prominent as it was once. Be sure to check back when the game launches, as we’ll be looking forward to reviewing Zen Studios’ departure from pinball.