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Kickbeat Preview

Vince_Ingenito By:
GENRE Rhythm / Music 
T Contains Violence

What do these ratings mean?

Punch that beat.

To me, like many rhythm game fans in the PS2 era, the release of Amplitude, the sequel to Harmonix's Frequency, was a big deal. Because my anticipation was at such a fevered pitch when I first slid it in, I had the cruel misfortune of actually enjoying the P.O.D. song “Boom", a psychological trick for which I will never forgive the developers. Now every time I hear it, I feel like playing a music game while punching people in the face, an inclination I feared would one day get the best of me.

Not a moment too soon, Zen Studios has come to my rescue. Thanks to their new rhythm action game KickBeat for Vita, I can pummel dudes freely, yelling “BOOOOM!” to punctuate each landed blow, and my only penalty will be embarrassing myself on the train instead of being sent to jail.

KickBeat throws you on a dance floor and surrounds you with packs of enemies, who move into position before attacking you to the beat of the music. Using a combination of d-pad and button presses, you pound your would-be attackers before they can lay their hands on you, ideally creating a long, flowing string of moves that looks as much like a choreographed kung-fu fight as they do a dance routine.

Martial arts and dancing already have so much synergy (just look at capoeira) that it seems preposterous that games have never married the two as directly as KickBeat does. Zen has done a good job of capturing the best of both worlds here, with animations that clearly had a lot of love poured into them. Originally, Zen went as far as hiring a martial arts expert to provide motion capture data, but after spending much time and even more money, they weren't happy with the look and feel, at which point they decided to hand-animate everything. The results speak for themselves: It will make you feel both balletic and empowered while laying down the smack.

Aside from P.O.D., aka the greatest band ever, KickBeat sports a mix of other licensed artists as well as original compositions. Because of the combat-oriented gameplay, most of the songs are understandably upbeat, energetic, and aggressive, but if you want to kick ass while listening to ABBA, your prayers have been answered. KickBeat allows you to import any mp3s you've stored on your Vita, giving you an infinite amount of replay value. I wasn't able to test this feature out personally, but if it works well, you'll have a limitless supply of tracks to play to.

I may or may not be importing the entire track list from Amplitude and Frequency when I get my hands on a retail copy of KickBeat, which releases this Spring. Kung Fu + Freezepop? Yes, please!
Tags:   Zen Studios

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