E3 2012: KickBeat preview

These days all the great rhythm action titles are left in the dust by the more popular rhythm games like Guitar Hero, DDR and Rockband flooding the market and being some of the only rhythm action games that the majority of people play. However last year we saw the release of Child of Eden, Theatrhythm is coming out in the next few months, plus you can't forget about the BIT.TRIP series. While iOS is great for smaller titles like WINta, Groove Coaster or Tomena Sanner. Well there's a new game joining the fight for creativity and that is KickBeat. KickBeat combines aerobatic martial arts with beat-matching mechanics to bring you a great rhythm action title that has you beating the baddies while tapping away to the beat.

KickBeat is the new game from Zen Studios, it's perhaps not a genre that you'd expect to see from them with their main foray being in the development of pinball games. Well they've been working on this little gem for some time now and only announced it just before E3 to get people excited. We luckily spotted the right person while at the Sony booth to get a play of it as it wasn't on the show floor, but it gave me free reign to play the levels without someone waiting behind me wanting a go.

At first I played through a level that was coupled with Marilyn Manson - Beautiful people as I know the song fairly well, little did I know it was actually a boss level, so I played through that a bit and then sadly died. However I then played it a few times till completion, the level had me trying to help my sensei by jumping on top of large statues and using their laser eyes to fend off the enemies as opposed to hand to hand combat.

Next up was Papa Roach - Last Resort, the only other song I knew from the current track listing, and although you'd think Last Resort would be a fairly easy song in a rhythm game, well it isn't that easy. Last Resort introduced me to multiple button presses and quick sequential presses. The clever thing of course would have been to play from the start and have a go at the first level, but with a rhythm game it can help to know the music beforehand. This is usually resolved by learning the music through trial and error but as they were tracks by actual bands and we were limited with time I thought I'd stick with the ones I knew.

The button presses felt accurate and were mapped to the face buttons, so the enemies would step on the Triangle, Square, Circle or Cross and a perfect hit would be when they're directly on it, while of course being timed to the beat of the music. By watching the enemy movements you can be slightly off put from the best moment to press the button, causing misses which then takes too long for you to get an attack in before they attack you. If you're used to rhythm based games it works well, you just have to get used to the animations of the enemies to know when is best to press if you aren't that familiar with the song.

Reminiscent of the days where you could load up your own music in Vib Ribbon by popping in your favourite album and try your best to play along thinking a certain song would be easy, only to find out it's super hard. Well you can now relive those memories, or create new ones with the music importer for KickBeat. Sadly we didn't get to see the music importer on the build that we played but it promises to create gameplay based off the beats of the songs that you import which are saved to your Vita memory stick.

The final game will also include online multiplayer that allows you to battle against your friends by collecting orbs to send attacks their way, we were unable to see the multiplayer however it'll be interesting to see how it plays out as a competitive two player experience sounds interesting.

KickBeat is currently scheduled for a late summer/fall release in 2013, exclusively on the Playstation Vita.


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