KickBeat Hands-On: It’s All in the Mind

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KickBeat Hands-On: It’s All in the Mind

At first blush, you could be forgiven for thinking that KickBeat is a new riff on Beats, that seminal PSP downloadable gem that transformed your MP3 collection into an engaging button-tapping rhythm challenge. Much like Beats, KickBeat awards you points for accurately tapping combinations of the four face buttons (or four quadrants on the front touchscreen) in time to the music and subtle visual cues.

But KickBeat is a far more ambitious game, both mechanically and aesthetically. Abandoning the abstract icons that clutter the interfaces of many music games, KickBeat reimagines the rhythm game as a chop-socky fighting scene with an agile protagonist battling hordes of incoming goons in a circular arena. Each successive hit you land yields a bigger bonus multiplayer and more points, while missing an incoming attack diminishes your life meter. The game ramps up slowly but surely. Smacking down the most basic yellow enemy type is easy enough, but the action quickly accelerates as new enemies types are introduced — red enemies attack from two places at once, while blue aggressors come in with a tricky one-two combo. Before long, you’ll be working up a sweat as you fend off blistering volleys of incoming enemies to the pounding background music.

After I spent a few minutes warming up with the controls, I settled down to kick some duff in the game’s Story mode. I found my rhythm through the first few songs, powering through Celldweller’s ultra-catchy Switchback and Marilyn Manson’s thundering opus The Beautiful People. The pace steadily ramped up through Southpaw Swagger (It’s Showtime) and Papa Roach (Last Resort) until I tapped out on a song by Australian drum-and-bass act Pendulum. The high-octane, pumped-up electronic-infused metal soundtrack was alarmingly infectious, but once the final version of the game lands I’ll be interested in importing some MP3s in the “Beat Your Music” mode to see how KickBeat keeps up.

KickBeat for PS VitaKickBeat for PS Vita

My hands-on time also confirmed that KickBeat is one sharp-looking PS Vita game. The colorful visuals look crisp and detailed on PS Vita’s OLED screen, while the game blazes along at a non-stop 60 frames per second — critical for a rhythm-centric title. Once I went hands-on with the game, I quickly realized why developer Zen Studios opted for hand-drawn fighting animation rather than a motion-captured martial artist: the fighting here was fast, fluid, and flawlessly responsive.

The Story mode mixes up the non-stop battles with hand-drawn cinematics and some clever minigames, including simple but strategic boss battles, as the action careens through monastery sparring rooms, wrestling arenas, Tokyo rooftops, and a VR dreamscape. The final version of the game will offer Training, Free Play, Survival, and a competitive multiplayer mode as well.

KickBeat comes exclusively to PS Vita via PSN later this year. Have questions based on my hands-on experiences? Ask away in the comments!

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4 Author Replies

  • Pa Rappa reference in the headline?!?! I hope so.

    I have fond memories of playing rhythm games, and between this and Retro/Grade it seems like they’re making a comeback.

  • I’m really liking what I have been seeing with this game. I can’t wait to give it a try.

  • time frame would be nice…say maybe october/november…

  • Yay, another Vita game. Things are definitely looking up.

  • Great looking game. Can’t wait to get it.

  • I’m not a huge fan of rhythm games, but this game might change that.

  • Looks like this game can be great fun and addictive and a unique experiences is exactly what every console needs. Beat Your Music is something great, I hope this game gets done right and is priced fairly, not overpriced because like I said, there should always be a lot of unique genres and experiences on consoles, and I like and support unique experiences and also because I like rhythm games so I would buy it.

    How much will this game cost?

    Unless this game can’t be played on PS3 because it uses heavily a PSVita feature the PS3 doesn’t like the rear touch and it can’t be changed to work on PS3, (which from this hands- on it just seems to use the face buttons and L/R) this game should also be for PS3 with Cross Buy.

    What are you guys doing?! Make all games for both consoles with Cross Buy, Cross Play, etc and the exclusives each console has are games that can only be played on each respective console like Tearaway on PSVita for example.

    Will this game come out on PS3? If so, I assume it will support Cross Buy, Cross Play, etc. right?

    • They’ve only talked about PS Vita, but what you say does indeed make sense and I’d love to see it happen too.

  • This reminded me of a bug I wanted to put in the forum’s ear. Lets see a Vita version of Pa Rappa the Rappa? Any possibility of that happening soon?

  • I’d kill for a PS Vita Parappa the Rappa. O:

    The art style of those games on that OLED screen… and Patapon, LocoRoco too… those are like three franchises that have to be on the PS Vita at some point.

    Anyhoo~ KickBeat looks great, looking forward to it. Hopefully we get a price drop on MEMORY CARDS because I need a new one, but refuse to buy one at their current prices.

  • Day 1 purchase for me, if the price is right.

  • Can’t wait to try out the “Beat your Music” mode especially with the DDR music I have on my vita (The legend of MAX anyone?)
    And competitive multiplayer you say…..I wonder how that’s gonna work

    • I haven’t tried multiplayer yet, but I understand that you’ll be able to screw with your competitor by picking up and activating certain power-ups that make enemies inflict more damage, interrupts their rhythm, etc. Sounds like fun!

  • Since it’s a PSN game it’ll probably cost about $14.99, unless it’s a full download only game. Seems unlikely though.

  • I can’t wait to get this game. I just hope it will work with Music Unlimited since I don’t save any music to my Vita.

  • Oh man I love this kind of games. The music of that video just got me pumped up!!!. Make a way for console please.
    I have many music this will be great if i can add mines!!!.

    Make it happen for consoles please.

  • Where are all the ps vita games? don’t get me wrong, this looks all dandy and all but it’s just that All I’ve been seeing are vita “APPS” that I don’t really consider as full games, sure AC 3 liberation, TEARAWAY and LBP vita are gonna be great but what’s the future of vita gonna look like?An android phone? I did not paid 250$ to play “apps”
    where are all the AAA games?Has vita been forgotten?

  • Nice reference to Pa Rappa, haha. Was a nice game.

  • do you get to pick characters : boys and girls? and can you choose your music from your ps vita on the game? please reply!!! im new,.

  • PSNation did an interview with the devs and they said that while the game may only come with something like 15-20 songs, you would be able to play the game to the music on your vita, essentially making it a much larger game.

    Been looking forward to this game ever since seeing that first gameplay trailer, will likely be a day 1 buy for me.

    @The-taco-man010 – they have announced several AAA titles coming in the future for the Vita, while they may not appeal to you, that doesn’t mean they aren’t coming.

  • Hey! I Got A Question…

    Suppose That SOMEBODY “Out Here” HATES The Music That Comes With The Game… Is There An Option To SUBSTITUTE The “Standard In-Game Main Story Mode” Music With PERSONAL Mp3’s? For Example… Let’s Just Say That I Really Hate Marilyn Manson And Papa Roach And All The Other Bands That Might Be In The Game, Can I Play MY OWN Mp3’s For The Main Story Mode InStead Of The Crap?

    I Think That The Game Looks REAL COOL! But I Hate Some Of The Bands So Much That I Will Not Buy It UnLess I Can Play Some Other Rock Tunes InStead Of Marilyn Manson Or CellDwellar… Yuck. At LEAST You Got Some “In Flames”! How Did You Dudes Score THAT?

  • Cool, still looking forward to this since the E3 vid I saw.

    Personally, I would rather fight to Wu-Tang and DJ Krush, but I’ll give it a go.

  • I hope rhythm games make a come-back. At least how it used to be: with variety. Yeah, Guitar Hero was fun, until it became the same thing over and over again and the fun was squeezed out of it to make room for the milk. It was more fun when it was Dance Dance Revolution and you used your feet though (yes, I’m saying the basic gameplay of Guitar Hero is the same as DDR, only you use your feet in DDR). I miss Parappa the Rapper, Umjammer Lammy, Bust A Groove, and especially Space Channel 5. Sure I still have these games, I just wish there were more or more rhythm games as fun and different as these. So far, Retro/Grade and Kickbeat seem to fit the bill. I hope more follow.

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