KickBeat (PS3, Vita)

KICK_BOXKickBeat is a unique mix of a music rhythm title and martial arts fighting (although it’s mostly just a music game). KickBeat was made by Zen Studios, the same folks who brought us all those great Pinball FX and Zen Pinball tables. Will you get a kick out of their latest attempt to branch out to other genres? Read on to find out (PS3 version reviewed here).

In the game, you play as a martial arts student who is tasked with protecting a sphere that holds all the world’s music or something. Each stage is a song and you must kick and punch bad guys trying to steal the sphere. You stand in the center of the screen and enemies come at you in a circle, counter clockwise. As enemies approach the vicinity of the four face buttons on the PS3 controller, you must hit that button in time with the music to smack the baddies away.

On the bottom of the floor where you stand is a yin yang symbol. The two colors on it represent your life and chi. If you miss a beat, the bad guys will attack and you’ll lose a bit of your life. Run out and you must start the song over. When your chi is full, press a button to unleash a special enemy-clearing move when things get hectic. Sometimes, bad guys will have power-ups over their heads, such as shields, health refills, and bonus points. Double click the button as you kick them to collect the goods.

As awesome as Zen Studios is, I had a hard time liking this game, even though I really wanted to. I found the game rather difficult, and it was hard to tell where the enemies were going to end up since they circled you the whole time. Maybe if they came from a straight line, it would’ve been easier for me. The lowest difficulty selection was “Normal,” but I wish they had a super easy mode below that. I wanted to play as the girl character, but in order to do that you have to beat the game as the guy. And as tough as the game was, I knew there was no way I’d be able to do that. Plus I didn’t care much for the game music selection, which includes hip hop, rap, and metal tunes. But if you like music games featuring those kinds of songs, then you may want to try out this one anyway.


Kid Factor:

KickBeat is rated T for Teen with an ESRB descriptor of Violence. While you do punch and kick bad guys, there is no blood, and enemies just fall over when defeated. It’s no worse than a cheesy kung-fu action flick, so I’d be OK with kids younger than teens playing this. I’m a little surprised the game didn’t get a descriptor of Mild Lyrics, given the song choices. So you may want to steer clear if you don’t want your kids listening to Marilyn Manson and whatnot. But really, the best reason why this one is best for older gamers is the high level of difficulty.

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