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  1. barrel

    Review: Superbeat: Xonic

    Developer: Nurijoy Publisher: PM Studios, Atlus & Acttil Platform: Vita Release Date: November 10, 2015 ESRB: T for Teen An understated strength of Sony handhelds is their surprisingly solid library of rhythm game releases. Of course, there is fair reason why people likely haven“t heard of titles like Taiko Drum Master V or IA/VT Colorful in regards to Vita releases from this year alone beyond hardcore importers. But even titles that got an official overseas releases like DJMax: Technika Tune, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd, and Persona 4: Dancing All Night have generally been well-received by genre enthusiasts. Though, as much as I enjoyed the DJMax series (even back on the PSP), its former developer dissolved with the series alongside with it. To seemingly satiate the handheld rhythm game void in my heart, developer Nurijoy has decided to weave an entirely new spiritual successor mix to DJMax under the label Superbeat: Xonic. The quickest sign to remind me why Superbeat: Xonic was most certainly a spiritual successor to DJMax was its unapologetic difficulty. Much like DJMax, there is not only a learning curving for the basic gameplay but there is also a fast ramp in expecting you to be decent at it. Dexterity means a lot in Superbeat: Xonic, which... in a bizarre way actually makes the game's title make a little more sense in some way (since "Xonic" is apparently pronounced like "Sonic"). Actually, it is hard to even visually comprehend the gameplay of Superbeat: Xonic with its flurry of notes, at least at first. Similar to Persona 4: Dancing All Night, however, the note inputs run outwards to the leftmost and rightmost sides of the screen. There are two different control schematics to use, those being through the touchscreen or face buttons. You can theoretically use both control schemes at the same time, for whatever reason, but chances are you'll stick to one or the other because of how demanding of your attention Superbeat: Xonic ends up being on either. It does not help that Superbeat: Xonic has a generally strict input timing and a default difficulty that would basically be hard mode or higher in most recent rhythm games. For myself personally, I found myself sticking to buttons purely for consistency even if the touchscreen is easier to learn initially. That said, like any good challenge, there is most certainly a satisfying -- and earned -- skill ramp in Superbeat: Xonic. Plenty of higher-rated songs caused me laugh hysterically due to their seemingly insurmountable nature and me failing miserably (and quickly) at first despite having in-game handicap tools in place. After putting more time into the game to get inner-workings down I actually found that the difficulty to be rather fair, if not sorta unrelenting. Every time I thought I was hot stuff a new song would quickly put me in my place making it all the more satisfying to eventually tackle even those pieces. It wasn't just a matter of getting used to the gameplay, Superbeat: Xonic does what a lot of rhythm games unfortunately lack where knowing the melody of the song helps playing immensely because of how spot-on the music is sync with the gameplay most of the time. As for the music itself, I had a serious back-and-forth with the song selection making the drive to "git gud" less appetizing initially. Early on, the song list constitutes of generally weak Korean Pop with loosely familiar DJMax artists and arrangements of signature DJMax tracks like "Heart of the Witch" in everything but name. Which are fine, but have been done much better in DJMax libraries. The song selection really hits its stride as you progressively unlock its far more eclectic and dense list in both quantity and musical styles. Song beats range from hip-hop to rap (whom actually seem to know English), Spanish styled Rumba, classical remixes, and a seemingly random placement of Guilty Gear Xrd's cheesy opening rock song "Heavy Day". For me personally, I think the best tracks are of the really catchy techno variety which... well, happen to be the hardest songs to play. To put the obtained skills are the ramps in the form of various modes. The most used mode will likely be the Stage mode which generally encompasses multiple difficulty progressions in the form of "Trax" and is the most obvious way to work your way up. Like DJMax before it, Stage mode has you pick three songs to play back to back and afterwards you are graded with a total score. The other primary mode is 'World Tour,' which has preset songs and challenges to complete back to back. There aren't really any bells and whistles beyond that aside from a general online leaderboard with both friends and worldwide. The core formula works but it does oddly lack more extraneous features like a jukebox equivalent or noteworthy unlockables beyond new songs and sound chimes. Probably the biggest problem with Superbeat: Xonic is that it is very visually uninteresting in the midst of actual gameplay. With the exception of the Guilty Gear Xrd song, most of the time the visual flourishes amount to little more than random lighting and kaleidoscope effects. Admittedly, Superbeat: Xonic coasts on the fundamentals of its satisfying-to-learn gameplay but very little else. Some more serious issues that I had were a surprising amount of crashes during my play sessions. I had the Vita notify me of the game crashing at least three times and I could not guess the rhyme or reason behind it, even though I primarily played offline. Superbeat: Xonic feels very much like a first effort as a spiritual successor to DJMax than truly passing the torch onto a would-be better rhythm game series. Though it has the heart of a DJMax successor it doesn't really have the polish and sheen that has understandably culminated with that series after many years of iterations. Removed from that context however, Superbeat: Xonic is certainly a solid rhythm foundation on a pure gameplay standpoint. It's challenging, satisfying difficulty and large song selection (with even more coming through DLC) will give hardcore fans of the genre quite a bit to master, but those with a passing interest in the genre may likely be pushed away by its ruthless difficulty and lack of technical refinement. Pros + Certainly evocative of classic DJ Max games from the interface to familiar songs/artists + Gameplay can be pretty satisfying after getting a handle on its very fast-paced and dexterous nature + Fairly eclectic song list in both style and quantity Cons - Quite a huge skill ramp regardless of control scheme - In-game presentation is pretty uninteresting and lacks cosmetic options compared to more recent rhythm games - Some technical issues Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good For the most part Superbeat: Xonic is for the passionate rhythm game fan and little else. It's challenging (and rewarding for those willing to learn), in addition to having a fairly eclectic song selection. Yet, Superbeat: Xonic noticeably lacks much of the sheen and polish that one would expect of many recent rhythm games, including its forefather series DJMax Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Vita code provided by the publisher.
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    Superbeat: Xonic 4

    From the album: Superbeat: Xonic

    © http://gematsu.com

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    Superbeat: Xonic 3

    From the album: Superbeat: Xonic

    © http://gematsu.com

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    Superbeat: Xonic 2

    From the album: Superbeat: Xonic

    © http://superbeatxonic.com

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    Superbeat: Xonic 1

    From the album: Superbeat: Xonic

    © http://superbeatxonic.com

  6. Developer: Sega/Crypton Future Media Publisher: Sega Platforms: PlayStation 3/PS Vita Release Date: November 18, 2014 ESRB: T for Teen This review is based on the PS3 version of the game Hatsune Miku is an anomaly that I don“t completely understand. I get that her rise of fame started as synthesized vocal software (aka vocaloid) and her anime design managed to catch on in Japan. What I understand much less is how she became such a phenomena that she can take over established pizza chains, appear on late night American TV shows, or go on concert tours all over the world. Her cling to the title of the “most popular virtual singer” is not to be belittled. Still, if it means that I get more great rhythm games like Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd in the process, I could not care less about fully understanding her existence. Despite the virtual idol's strange popularity as of late, Sega still took a chance with bringing over the Project Diva series beyond Japan last year with Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F on PS3 and delayed Vita release early this year. Likely deeming that a success, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd now finally sees a simultaneous release on both PS3 and Vita. Little has deviated from the central formula of previous releases in the series. This is by no means bad, of course. As with earlier entries notes appear from pretty much every angle until they overlap with their corresponding face button notes. To also keep the player on their toes, notes also have extra variables like direction based inputs or flicks of the analog stick, with an entire new star note that requires simultaneous taps on the analog sticks. It is certainly not ground-breaking amongst rhythm games, nor does it try to be, but it nails the intrinsic feedback of it. Despite how I may enjoy the recent Final Fantasy Theatrhythm: Curtain Call, that is an example in the genre where the core gameplay somewhat feels off-sync with the music accompanying it. Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd does not have that problem and pretty much always feels in tune with both the gameplay and music together. It may sound simple and arbitrary, but I think that is what separates a good rhythm game and a great one. Well, that, and the quality of the soundtrack. Vocaloid J-pop music is certainly an acquired taste. To be honest, aside from the soundtrack of Magical Beat it would be difficult for me to say that to say I care for most vocaloid tunes in general. I tend to enjoy the series more for the well-crafted rhythm gameplay than anything else. I say that, but I think the quality of the soundtrack really stepped up overall in Project Diva F 2nd. I have gone from liking less than a small handful in previous releases to finding, erm, multiple handfuls dangerously catchy in Project Diva F 2nd with its 40+ tracks (not including dlc). To match the crazy presentation the J-pop vocaloid soundtrack also likes to utilize bubbly, eclectic beats to some surprisingly intense rock-like rifts. What remains as the series' double-edged sword is how extravagantly it is presented. The visuals are very eccentric with their colorful vibrancy, expressive movements and dances, and the sheer variety of the motifs. One music video may play with an romantic manga style while another is completely different by having Miku fight with dual katanas and then dying (oops, spoilers?). It probably has a bit too much personality in how it is displayed for would-be newcomers. Also, it becomes a developed skill to pay attention to the notes appearing and not constantly miss because of the extremely busy visuals. Heck, even the notes themselves will occasionally leave the player baffled the first time they see them—for example, a series of them will be in the shape of a heart. I may have personally become much better at not getting distracted, but even I get tripped up by several songs the first time I see them because of the aesthetic. I“m not going to pretend that I am great at most rhythm games, but it is clear that the standard difficulty has seen quite a spike over previous releases. So much so, that as one who has been able to complete hard mode in previous games, I have struggled quite a bit with some of the last songs even on the normal difficulty. Some of the last songs have inputs appear so fast that you don“t have any hope of sight-reading them and succeeding on your first try. For the first time ever I turned to the use of "help items" (which makes parts of songs easier at the cost of a score penalty) to even be sure that I even had the skill level to complete the song(s) anytime soon. Which, even then, I repeated certain songs quite a few times before completing them—I'm looking at you 2D Dream Fever. There is certainly more to Project Diva F 2nd than new songs and an increased difficulty, however, even if I don't really understand (or care to know) more than half of it. Customization options are abound from lots of unlockable costumes, accessories, and challenges to works towards, as well as a "Live Studio" which attempts to recreate a concert setting. Refinements have also been added to the edit mode, which allows players to customize music videos and upload/download them with other users, and the Diva Room too. To be clear, Diva Room is sort of a weird sim-like mode where you can use points earned through songs to buy stuff to customize a vocaloid's room and to raise their.affinity level with items, poking them (literally), or various minigames. Really, though, Diva Room occasionally feels creepy, the minigames within it are poorly designed, and room customization unappealing, so I don't really find any personal appeal in it. It also has a few new additions that are neat for returning fans. For example, being able to carry over saves from the previous game for new unlocks or the ability to convert a Japanese save file to English to carry over progress for possible early importers. Cross-save usage between both PS3 and Vita is pretty seamless for those that happen to have both. Also, Sega now has both a Romaji translation and the newly added direct English translation for those who want learn context behind the various songs, which is cool. Granted, I'm convinced that some songs make less sense in English, but it is the thought that counts. Lastly, a subtle, but smart (and dangerous) addition is "spotlight", which randomly selects songs in the main rhythm portion and gives the player one chance to complete a song for significantly more bonus points towards unlocks and pushes that "Just one more song..." mentality. As a smart performer, Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd improves upon previous gigs in nearly every way. It's flashier, has a stronger overall musical selection, useful new features, and is dense with content and modes to work towards. The only real problems is that its significant raise in difficulty can be rather daunting, especially for newcomers, and some long-standing problems with the series still remain. I may never understand the enigma that is Hatsune Miku, but at least I can be at ease knowing that a lot of fun can still be found with her newest rhythm game performance. Pros: + Music is better than the previous Project Diva F overall + Vibrant, varied, and entertaining visuals + Very responsive controls and gameplay that syncs great with the music + Plenty of unlockables and challenges to work towards Cons: - Standard difficulty has spiked a lot. - Diva Room still weirds me out - Visuals can be distracting Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great With a better overall performance and musical selection Hatsune Miku: Project Diva F 2nd has proven that this idol is not out of tricks just yet when it comes to putting up a great rhythm game show Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable PS3 code provided by the publisher.
  7. Developer: Meteorise Publisher: XSEED Games Platform(s): PS Vita Release Date: November 11, 2014 ESRB: M for Mature A rhythm game that focuses on cooking, food, and the girls of the Senran Kagura series? Sign me up. All these things make me as giddy as a schoolgirl, so a combination of all of them should be simply spectacular. Right? Senran Kagura Bon Appétit! is a very barebones rhythm game; the actual gameplay isn“t anything special and leaves a lot to be desired. The way that it is setup is initially somewhat confusing, but that“s simply due to a poorly designed layout. In any case, you“ll get used to it quickly enough. It“s just unfortunate how boring the gameplay is versus other rhythm games such as the Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA titles. Most of the music in Bon Appétit! is forgettable as well. This is extremely disappointing considering that this is a rhythm game and that the main Senran Kagura games have some excellent tracks. The tracklist itself is also very small. Honestly, there“s not much to say about the soundtrack at all. The more exciting parts come in-between the gameplay portions. Throughout each stage, there are three separate portions where your meal course is judged by HanzÅ. How well you perform when pressing buttons to the beat determines your score. The better you do, the better HanzÅ“s reaction. Besting your rival in that round will also strip them of some of their clothing. Be careful, though! It“s easy to become distracted by their sensual body wiggling (it“s happened to me a few times)… If you achieve a super dish at the very end, your opponent will be served to you as a delicious dessert wearing absolutely nothing. Bon Appétit!“s main selling point is obviously its nearly naked women and sexiness, as is the case with the rest of the Senran Kagura series. With food being the theme of Bon Appétit!, it assuredly takes advantage of that and combines it with said risquésituations. So, you“ll be seeing lots of images of bare-bottomed women covered with whipped cream and so forth. Like the rest of the series, this is done mostly in a satirical manner rather than in an effort to demean women. Considering the theme of Bon Appétit! and the fact that it“s a spin-off, this is driven even further to the point of absolute silliness. All of this is made even more fun with the all-important dressing room. By unlocking clothing and other items through the main game and DLC, you“ll be able to dress all the Senran Kagura girls to your heart“s desire. Absolutely adorable or daringly sexy – it“s your choice! While the Senran Kagura series is also known for its surprisingly deep and serious plot, you won“t find any of that here. It“s a rhythm game, after all! As such, the “story†of Bon Appétit! is very simple: a cooking competition is held and the grand prize is a secret ninja art scroll that can grant any wish. Our shinobi girls either want their own wishes granted or want to stop others from causing chaos with such a powerful scroll, so battles in the form of cooking ensue between them. While it is a basic premise, the writing still allows for some amusing and emotional bits, such as Katsuragi wanting to become the queen of the hooters harem. For those that can“t seem to get enough of what Bon Appétit! has to offer, there is a DLC pack available that unlocks Gessen and Hebijo characters (basically, half the roster). If you“ve purchased the Rin and DaidÅji DLC for Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus, then they will also carry over to Bon Appétit! I hoped for a lot more from Senran Kagura Bon Appétit! Unfortunately, it gets stale very quickly in terms of gameplay. Still, thanks to life and hometown, it“s a nice little distraction for Senran Kagura fans waiting for the next big game in the series. Pros: + Dialogue/writing is still funny, emotional, and fantastic + Lots of clothing items to play dress-up with + Chock-full of sexy moments Cons: - Rhythm gameplay is boring and basic - Tracklist is small and unmemorable Overall Score: 6 (out of 10) Decent Don't expect any sort of greatness from Senran Kagura Bon Appétit! It falls flat as a rhythm game, so only hardcore Senran Kagura fans need apply. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Vita code provided by the publisher.
  8. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call doesn't release until September 16th in North America. But if you're itching to know what the game is like, then you can check out the demo that is now available on the 3DS eShop for both North America and Europe! The demo features two songs: "Edgar & Sabin's Theme" from Final Fantasy VI and "J-E-N-O-V-A (AC Version)" from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Both songs can be played in Basic, Expert, or Ultimate modes. As a bonus, those who download the demo will unlock extra characters from the start in the full retail game. As per usual with 3DS demos, you can play up to 30 times before the Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call demo expires.
  9. barrel

    Review: Magical Beat

    Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Arc System Works USA Platform: PS Vita Release Date: June 17, 2014 ESRB: E for Everyone It is quite easy to view Arc System Works purely as the developer behind well-respected anime fighting games like Guilty Gear, Blazblue, and Persona 4 Arena and little else. That said, unknown to most of the world beyond Japanese arcades, a quirky puzzle/rhythm title by the name of Magical Beat managed to make its debut a couple years ago and was made by none other than Arc System Works themselves. With a recent port to Vita does this quirky puzzle/rhythm hybrid hold up well or does its pieces discordantly hit the floor? Much like the very brief tutorial directly says, Magical Beat is a very simple puzzle game. It“s a match-three or more of the same color kind of puzzle design, but the primary twist is that you need to drop the pieces in sync with the BPM (beats per minute) of a song. While the in-game tutorial says the goal is to destroy more beatons (colored puzzle pieces), the actual main gameplay focus is more akin to Puzzle Fighter where you really just want to make the other player“s life hell and have them mess up first. You not only want to create consecutive beaton chains to manage columns and score more points, but also to place jammers (grey blocks) on the opponent's grid to help them fail. The only way to clear jammers, which deliberately separate their beaton contemporaries, is by creating chains right next to them so they disappear. So, ideally, the better you get at chaining with the rhythm, the easier it is to ruin the opponent's day with jammers so you yourself don't have to deal with them as much. It is a very fast and fun back-and-forth puzzle dynamic that lends itself quite well to the portable system because of the general quickness of each skirmish. Unfortunately, Magical Beat is likely to be difficult for most players who do not carry over skill from somewhat similar titles like Puyo Puyo and Puzzle Fighter, like myself. It's one thing to adjust to the BPM rhythm and smartly place pieces quickly, but it's another when the A.I. goes through some outright insane difficulty spikes in later stages on normal mode, pretty much regardless of your skill level. Seriously, stages 9 and 10 on the normal difficulty in particular will have most people hitting "Continue" far more times than they are willing to admit. Thankfully, you only have to beat normal once to unlock all of the extra songs and characters, but, of course, beating it once is quite the ordeal. Despite its frustration and the very significant A.I. difficulty spikes present, it's worth putting up with it because of the engaging fast/fun gameplay, cute aesthetic, and catchy vocaloid soundtrack that complements it. Now before you have a knee-jerk reaction like you may normally have with a certain popular green-haired vocaloid, the soundtrack is far more consistent in Magical Beat. It is certainly strange to hear a light-hearted vocaloid track be interjected with dubstep seconds later (and it somehow isn't the worst thing in the world), but the very whimsical and varied jingles make it very bizarrely fun to listen to while playing. If you decide the vocaloids still aren't your jam, there is a fair amount of songs to draw from other Arc System Works titles: including Blazblue, Guilty Gear, XBlaze: Code Embryo, and even the obscure puzzle release 0-D Beat Drop, which have cool musical contributions as well. The most disappointing aspect of Magical Beat is its sparse selection of options and modes. There are only three difficulty modes (Beginner, Normal, and Hell Battle) and "My Own Battle" in which you personalize the A.I. difficulty and the song of your choice. Far more disappointing is that there is no online multiplayer, and only local ad-hoc, for a game that outright begs for human competition, especially after getting your spirit crushed by the demonic A.I. at times. Despite seemingly going out of its way to be overlooked with its stealthy release, Magical Beat proves itself as a fun hidden puzzle gem that is very worth checking out for puzzle fans on Vita. Its very few/limited modes and fiendish A.I. difficulty spikes do detract from it being an entirely safe recommendation, but overall, for those who would like to try an entertaining and clever musical spin on the puzzle genre would do well to check it out. Pros: + Fast-paced puzzle gameplay with a very fun rhythm dynamic + Strangely catchy vocaloid music + Unlockable Blazblue, Xblaze: Code Embryo, and Guilty Gear music and characters Cons: - No online multiplayer, local ad-hoc only - Ruthless A.I. creates a huge difficulty spike on the normal and higher difficulties - Very few modes and options to choose from Overall Score: 7 (out of 10) Good Magical Beat presents a fun musical spin on the puzzle genre despite an unfortunate lack of overall content Disclosure: This game was reviewed using downloadable Vita code provided by the publisher.
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    Review image 3

    From the album: Magical Beat

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    Review image 2

    From the album: Magical Beat

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    Review image 1

    From the album: Magical Beat

  13. There have been plenty of genre fusions over the years, but puzzle and rhythm games seem to be a new one to me. Thus is the premise behind Arc System Work's Magical Beat which arrives for the PS Vita as a digital download today. The game presents you with a "match-3" style gameplay, but with a twist—dropping blocks with perfect timing to the music's beat will send them to your opponent's side of the screen. In addition, there are many different combo possibilities as well as other unique challenges. Last but not least, it features an original Vocaloid soundtrack by Nico Nico celebrity Kikuo and planned DLC for the title features cameos and tunes from Arc System Work's other titles, like XBlaze: Code Embryo, Blazblue, and Guilty Gear. Magical Beat will be available for download on PS Vita for $9.99 when the PlayStation Store updates later today. Source: Press Release Are you interested in Magical Beat's puzzle/rhythm gameplay?
  14. Marcus Estrada

    Review: KickBeat

    Developer: Zen Studios Publisher: Zen Studios Platform: PS3, Vita Release Date: September 3, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen A download code was provided by the publisher for this review, which is based on the PS Vita version of the game For a while, it seemed that “traditional” rhythm games were gone. Peripheral-based games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band were king for a few years before things shifted again. In the present, we see some traditional games eke out, but more often than not there are more creative uses of music in the modern rhythm game. Zen Studios have created a title that requires definite rhythm to play but have meshed it with a fighting game. The idea is certainly creative but does it succeed? First, we must discuss the basic control scheme of KickBeat. You play the game as a young martial artist. As this character, you work through nearly twenty stages which are filled with enemies. These baddies gather around and eventually circle you before going in for the kill. Your goal is to retaliate just at the moment they“re primed to attack you. As long as you can hit enough of them without getting demolished yourself then the stage will end successfully. Of course, hitting them properly depends on the music playing during the stage. Sure, it could be possible to time the hit by staring at them carefully, but it“s much easier to just go with the beats. Each enemy is color-coded as well as a hint to how they“ll approach. Some enemies only come on the main beats, while others jump in between them. It“s important to be able to read their style or else you“ll be making a lot of missteps. Enemies swarm around you but can only attack from one of four directions. These are mapped out by the four face buttons of the Vita or PS3 controller. On Vita, you can actually use the touch screen to initiate attacks but it“s not very useful. This is because having your hands on the screen is less precise, harder to reach for some, and also obscures the view of incoming enemies! In any case, hitting the buttons should be done with proper timing, but you can still get a kick in even if you“re a little off beat. There are some other aspects to fighting as well which task you with double tapping on specific enemies. Guys with items floating above their head should be hit twice in order to collect said item. Such goodies involve shields, score multipliers, and health. It“s kind of hard to get them at times, though, as enemies easily crowd up in bunches near you. At that point, it can be hard to discern which one has the bonus. Double tapping on a bonus-less enemy grants no rewards and can instead reset your multiplier. What about the music? After all, that“s kind of a big point in regards to a music/rhythm game. There are eighteen songs that include artists Marilyn Manson, Pendulum, and Rob Zombie. The song selection is definitely unique to a rhythm game of this type. Some may dislike the soundtrack, but then there will be a whole other group who enjoys it. My biggest issue with it was simply not being accustomed to the songs which made it harder to predict beats initially. In any case, it“s definitely not fair to diss the game via the soundtrack since it definitely has an audience. Things that I cannot accept are various gameplay decisions. There seems to have been a definite attempt by Zen Studios to create a more “cinematic” or active rhythm game. As such, the camera sometimes slides or shifts which slightly alters the player“s view of the screen. This is an issue because rhythm games tend to rely on having the hit zone be static. Seeing it slightly turned from what you are accustomed to makes it harder to immediately judge where to hit. The issue is compounded with later difficulty stages. On normal, the hit zone will light up with the corresponding PS face button when an enemy approaches. Other difficulties remove this notifier. If the screen were in a static position all the time then this wouldn“t be a huge deal. Since it does have some change, though, it means you have to be incredibly aware of each enemy. In most music games, there is an ability to get into a ”zen“ state with them. It doesn“t seem this will ever be the case with KickBeat. It“s not that the game is just difficult, because that is entirely admirable to pursue. The problem is that some of the difficulty is artificial, such as what was just described. It also doesn“t help that sometimes enemies fly directly at the screen, obscuring the view for a bit. The way enemies animate and wander around is also a bit confusing to deal with when innumerable ones pour in. Players have to keep track of a lot of goings on. Perhaps part of the problem was playing it on the small Vita screen instead of a TV set. Those who play the demo and enjoy the gameplay (but not necessarily the music) might still be interested thanks to a mode called "Beat Your Music." Here, players can input their own songs for playing. After inputting the BPM on your own, the track can be saved and played through. They rarely turn out as good as official songs but it“s great to see the option available. A lot was done to extend player time commitments to KickBeat. For one, there are two story modes to play through. Then there is the fact that most features are locked until beating the game once. Survival mode in particular is off limits until you completely master the game at its hardest difficulty. This is definitely easier said than done since proceeding to any new difficulty requires beating the preceding one first. If you can manage that then you“re well on your way to climbing the Leaderboard. It seems that KickBeat succeeds at being different from most other games but is perhaps too different for genre fans to accept. Then there are players who are new to rhythm games but then wouldn't they just find this game even more difficult due to having no prior experience? Although it is not impossibly hard, it is harder than it needs to be due to unfortunate design choices. What makes rhythm games fun is the mix of music with addictive gameplay that you know you can master. In the case of this title, we“ve got a game better suited toward annoying the majority of players. Pros: + Interesting take on rhythm games + A tracklist of well known artists Cons: - Design decisions that negatively impact gameplay - May be hard to find a large market with songlist - Why implement touch controls at all when they're a poor choice? Overall Score: 4.0 (out of 10) Below Average KickBeat is a game with a definite audience but manages to chip away at it via a host of gameplay grievances.
  15. Developer: Sega Crypton Future Media Publisher: Sega Platform: PS3 Release Date: August 27, 2013 ESRB: T for Teen A download code was provided by the publisher for this review What the heck is a Vocaloid? Basically, they“re singing synthesizer applications with humanoid personas. You“ve probably heard of the most popular Vocaloid, Hatsune Miku, even if you didn“t know what one was before. Miku even has her own video games and concerts – the former of which has finally made an official appearance on western shores. Like the previous entries in the series, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F is a rhythm game where you press buttons in time to an array of Vocaloid songs. It may sound like another ordinary rhythm game, but Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F is different enough that it stands out among the rest. Each song is accompanied by a music video that plays in the background. While most songs will be sung by Miku and have her appear in the video, there are also other Vocaloids that are present in the game. Kagamine Rin, Kagamine Len, Megurine Luka, Kaito, and Meiko are among the “modules†you can have appear in songs you choose to play along with Miku. You can also dress up each character in their own various costumes and other accessories. These are purchased with Diva Points that you earn each time you finish playing through a song. Multitudes of things to purchase makes for a new experience each time you decide to replay a song, on top of playing dress-up! While the graphics and presentation of each video are absolutely gorgeous, it presents a major problem when it comes to actually playing the game. There“s so much going on in the background, and oftentimes it“s incredibly flashy and crazy, making it difficult to concentrate on the sequence of buttons you must press and more (as well as causing eye strain). Sure, you may become accustomed to it over time. But for newcomers to the Hatsune Miku games, it can definitely be off-putting. Despite that, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F is full of challenge that some rhythm game fanatics may be looking for. Even if you“re not a master, you can still build up your expertise from Easy to Normal mode, and from Hard to Extreme mode. When you need a break from all the fast-paced rhythm action, there are other modes that Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F offers to help you wind down. First, there“s the Edit Mode. As the name implies, you“re able to create your own music video in this mode from any song you own and generate your own chart. The possibilities are endless! Another mode, that“s actually rather cute and has some depth to it, is Miku Room. In this mode, you can customize a room for each character in the game with furniture and more. You can also buy them gifts, interact with them, and play with them. In short, Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F is a great and solid rhythm game for the PS3. Even if there“s some getting used to in regards to how “crazy†the main game can get, I still highly recommend it to those that are interested in the genre. I“m quite glad Sega decided to finally take the chance to bring a Hatsune Miku game to North America! Pros: + Over 30 songs to play through, each with their own music videos + Edit Mode and Miku Room offer a fun break from the game“s main mode + Over 90 costumes and 100 accessories to dress up each character in Cons: - Videos playing in background tend to be overly flashy and crazy, making it difficult to concentrate - Loading times can be long Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Fans of the rhythm genre should welcome Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F with open arms. Let“s hope games in the series continue to come here!
  16. Marcus Estrada

    Beatbuddy Gets a Release Date

    Developer THREAKS have been working on their 2D rhythm-focused platformer Beatbuddy for a while now and revealed some new information today. First, the game is getting a longer name, now called Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians. Alongside the wordier title, they also shared the release date. Those curious should mark August 6th down on their calendars because that's when Beatbuddy comes to PC. Windows, Mac, and Linux users will all get their shot at the experience which has previously won awards for best art and sound. If that isn't enough for you, then perhaps naming a few of the key people involved in the project will work better. The game scriptwriter best known for her work on Mirror's Edge and Tomb Raider (2012), Rhianna Pratchett, has contributed to Beatbuddy's story. Another big name is Austin Wintory of Journey fame who has lent his talent the game as well. Hopefully that has stoked your interest a bit more! Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians will be available on Steam for $15. So far, it has not been announced for consoles but maybe they will come next.