The Vita has been a proud home for various rhythm games over the past few years. Games like Hatsune Miku, Kickbeat, and Persona 4: Dancing All Night have racked up dozens of hours in my Vita alone. Not to be outdone, SUPERBEAT: XONiC is looking to take things to the next level. It’s developed by a group called Nurijoy, many of whose members worked on the DJMax games. In many ways, XONiC is the spiritual successor to that series. I’ve had my hands on the game for a few hours at this point, so let me give you my first impressions.
Like games in the DJMax series, or even DDR, XONiC uses a system wherein you play a series of three songs in order to get an overall score. Failing any one of those songs means it’s a game over, and you’ll be bumped back to the main menu. The idea is that you pick a song from a short list for each round, and each subsequent round gets a little bit harder. There’s also a mission mode where you have specific objectives, such as reaching a high combo or not missing a set number of notes. It doesn’t appear to be a lot to work with in terms of modes, but it will still take a while to master the game on its various difficulties.
Speaking of which, the game comes equipped with three different difficulties. They are called 4trax, 6trax, and 6traxFX. This basically means easy, medium, and hard. The tougher settings add more different inputs that you have to worry about, as well as adding a lot more notes in more difficult configurations. I play P4D exclusively on the hardest difficulty, and I’m here to tell you that XONiC is tough even on normal.
The game uses a series of different commands, asking you to master the use of the face buttons, directional pad, analog stick, and maybe even the shoulder buttons. Your fingers will get a work out for sure. Notes fly outward towards two “gears” on either side of the screen. You have to press the right button as the note passes into a gear. Conversely, you can use the touch screen as well. You can switch between the two styles on the fly, which will no doubt prove useful for some. It basically allows you to create your own style.
Songs run the gamut from dance, pop, hard rock, to even a bit of classical. There’s a good mix here, even if you aren’t likely to recognize it. Some of these names might be big in South Korea (where the game was developed), but I’ll be damned if I know a single one. The tracks each go about two minutes long, which keeps things moving at a brisk pace. You won’t be stuck for fifteen minutes when you play a set.
One last thing to mention before I go. The game seems to have some odd hangups and translation issues. When selecting a difficulty for play, the description of each is misleading. For example, if you want to play 4trax, it says “Beginner mode that consists of 4 Tracks”. This makes it sound like you’re going to play four songs. Also, there are modifiers you can equip for each song, but the icons you use to do so are tiny and visual only. It’s hard to tell what they do, and nothing in the game seems to describe them. Finally, there are some menu options that can only be altered by using the touch screen. It frankly doesn’t make any sense why you can only sometimes navigate using the d-pad. Hopefully, some of these issues will be resolved as I dig more into the game.
I like the way the game is shaping up so far. I’ve got some legitimate concerns, but the gameplay is interesting and fun. That’s what counts in a game like this. Make sure to check back in a couple of weeks for my full review!