The time has come for the Vita to rock.
Not many developers commit to creating games for the PlayStation Vita. It is a sad truth for any consumer who owns the powerful handheld device. Triple A titles simply do not exist, but if you are a fan of smaller, independent titles, then the Vita is a great platform to game upon.
Superbeat: Xonic, released on November 10th, channels the majority of the Vita’s strong features into its rhythm based challenges. Superbeat: Xonic is a rhythm game developed by Nurijoy, Inc. that features a wide variety of catchy tunes integrated into three game modes that will keep the player busy for hours on end.
The meat of Superbeat: Xonic takes place in three separate game modes. The first is Stage mode, where the user plays either 4TRAX, 6TRAX, or 6TRAX FX, each more difficult than the last. In each of these choices in the Stage mode, the user plays three songs and is rated based on accuracy, combo breaks, and length of combo. The higher the user levels up, the more songs, icons, sounds, and profiles unlock, meaning there is an extremely large amount of songs available to tap away to.
World Tour is the second game mode that users can treat themselves to. In the World Stage game mode, the player must complete three challenges (one easy, one medium, and one hard difficulty) across fourteen venues located throughout the world. Each difficulty has three songs the player must complete in a back-to-back fashion. Each has the same goal per stage. For example, the first world stage requires a max combo of 100 by the end of the tour. The second world requires the player to break no more than 10 combos through the three songs. Each world stage unlocks based on your level.
At first, Superbeat: Xonic appears and feels like a casual play, but the difficulty level ramps itself up quickly. Luckily, as you unlock icons/DJ profiles, each comes equipped with a different set of abilities to utilize while rocking. I generally stuck with whichever DJ gave me the most experience to level and offered a (combo) Break shield. Other abilities include a Fever shield (which you can activate by building your fever bar), increased HP, and more.
The last game mode is a simple free mode where the player can practice and play his/her favorite tunes.
Outside of the game modes, there is a live ranking system, so you can rank yourself among the DJ elites. The backstage feature allows you to change your DJ icon/profile, the sound your tapping makes, your total class (the letter grade you average), total score, play record (how many songs you’ve rocked), your level, experience, and collection progress bar. Lastly, an options menu is available to adjust your sound levels, save data, difficulty, and DJ ranking system.
Fortunately, the songs in Superbeat: Xonic are super catchy. There were no songs I outright disliked and few I found just okay. Otherwise, I found myself humming to the tunes I had been jamming to earlier in the day.
While I have many positive comments to make about Superbeat: Xonic, I must lament on a few technical issues. The game utilizes the Vita’s touch screen potential nicely. You tap the screen or hit the buttons/joysticks/triggers to the matching blocks in rhythm with the song. And in theory, it works well. In execution, I found my fingers (I have fairly small hands) to be too fat to accurately tap the screen. To compare, I had my brother and my fiancé both attempt the easier songs, and they too struggled with the controls.
The touch screen was so frustrating for me that I committed myself to using the buttons and joysticks. This, along with using my DJ profiles, has made the game enjoyable and playable. I suggest fiddling around with the game to find what you prefer.
My second issue is that of the loading screen between stages, songs, and menus. The game loads, and you can see the loading icon in the bottom right of the Vita. Unfortunately, there is a gap between loading screen and your next screen, to which Superbeat: Xonic simply ceases to make noise and leaves your screen black. This wouldn’t be an issue if I didn’t always assume my Vita went to sleep or my battery died. I found myself hitting the power button way too often to see if it was my Vita or the game. This is in no way game breaking, but it has caused some frustration.
The last serious issue I’ve come across in Superbeat: Xonic is the screen. Behind the tracks where your notes slide towards you is always a pretty psychedelic spray of colors. Sometimes the screens morph and change based on the songs, which is a pretty cool feature. The problem shows itself when it totally messes with your vision, and you start missing your keys. I failed the second world tour easy mode at least twenty times (before I realized I could use the DJ profiles to my advantage) because of the blasts of disorienting colors.
On the whole, Superbeat: Xonic is an extremely catchy and somewhat addicting experience accessible to the hardcore and casual gamer. Fans of DJMax or DJ Hero/Guitar Hero will most likely enjoy this game. Be sure to wear headphones for the best sound, though it comes through mighty clear via the Vita speakers.
The easy choice about this genre of games is that most consumers know what they’re getting and whether they will like it.
With a huge selection of unlockables and songs, Superbeat: Xonic exceeded my expectations and gave me an experience well worth my time, barring the few technical setbacks.