KickBeat is kind of a hard game to pin down. I liked it because it sounded great and it looked interesting to play but everything else was very meh or annoying. I’ve noted before that Rhythm games are kind of my guilty pleasure, there’s no reason to it I just enjoy them but I always have to wonder why afterword’s. I don’t mean the main stream ones either that rushed to make such new and specific games at the end the entire industry collapsed (Green Day Rock Band? Who the hell actually asked for that?) I mean the original ones, or more original anyways, like Hatsune Miku and Idol Project (not that it’s come to this country yet damn’t). Even the recent Persona 4: Dancing All Night was a nice change of pace if not a little weird. What they all had in common was good music which is why rhythm games struggle so much; what makes music ‘good’ is a personal preference so the only way to sell is to reach the widest common denominator. The same lesson games like Call of Duty took to heart years ago by making games so cut and paste they could never disappoint the fans because they are all the same.
The music in KickBeat is good, a lot of rock, some rap and other head rocking miscellaneous. I almost got confused and thought I wasn’t playing an indie game because music licenses can be expensive. With so many big name artists like Blue Stahli, Marilyn Manson and Papa Roach the developers were looking at one hell of a bill. I can say though it really seems like they went out and carefully picked songs that would actually fit in the game. The story is kind of crap and exists only to drive the music sections. Rich evil tycoon, who happens to American, steals all the music in the world from some musical kung Fu master. What? That is the worst evil plan ever and what the hell is he gonna do with all that music? I’m fairly certain there are a lot of patent holders out there with a different view on the subject. The story was rather obvious but a couple of things did confuse me. Such as why there was only one boss fight in the entire game (and not at the end) and why the final level suddenly became some weird female tentacle hentai fantasy.
The karate style look and gameplay has its pros and cons. It does look kind of cool and fighting off waves of enemies with musical kung Fu is a lot more badass than it sounds. I found myself rocking to the beat and sounds of punches multiple times. The story and cut scenes parts are very meh though. I don’t know if they were trying to go for the artistic approach but it didn’t work. Instead we end up with a kind of water color mess and an odd assortment of cyber soldier mash ups. The gameplay is what almost made me give up on the game though. Enemies circle around the player and you press the buttons in the correct order with the beat. A simple concept but it kind of gets messed up in this game. At certain points so many enemies circle at one time it is impossible to know which point to start with. It also caused the problem where enemies would block the buttons and I couldn’t tell what was happening.
Recovering from a miss is also really annoying since the game takes a moment to catch up with itself again. I also found it odd that they added a mechanic that would basically shut down the player character if he missed too many times. Why would you punish someone who is trying and already failing like that? When I reached the more advanced levels though they removed the buttons all together and I had no idea where to start anymore. Certain colored enemies do certain things but they all look so identical that when you’re in a fast section it is near impossible to notice until it is too late. Some mechanics don’t even work as intended. They have one enemy type where the enemy is supposed to hold down the button from one point to the next but it’s not even required or necessary. In short it is an interesting game with a great track list that is poorly implemented. It is worth paying but at the same time I probably wouldn’t actually pay for it. So come get it while it’s still free I guess.