Developed by PM Studios Published by PM Studios & Acttil Reviewed on Nintendo Switch (also available on PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One)
SUPERBEAT: XONiC is a high octane standout take on the established rhythm game genre. Originally released on the PlayStation Vita in 2015 and later released on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, SUPERBEAT: XONiC also provides a captivating experience on the Nintendo Switch. Its eclectic mix of genres, vibrant visuals, and diverse challenges provide electrifying thrills. With the Switch’s wide variety of control schemes, players have multiple ways to play the game at home or on the go. As a result, this version of SUPERBEAT: XONiC is a wonderful addition to any Switch owner’s library, and it is an excellent way to revisit the game or experience it for the first time.
The game follows familiar rhythm game conventions in a colorful dynamic way. After players pick a song to play, they respond to on-screen cues with button or touch-based inputs. These cues move from the center to specific zones on the left and right sides of the screen. The green and blue icons require a button press or screen tap. A yellow arrow icon requires an analog stick flick or touch screen swipe, and a red line requires holding the analog stick or dragging on the touch screen. Reacting to a flurry of warm and cool colored notes on screen is often exhilarating, and the notes are easy to read. It is always joyful looking at the game’s sleek circles and vibrant user interface. However, alternating between button and analog stick inputs can be somewhat challenging, and it can take a bit of practice to master. Accurately tapping, swiping, and dragging on the fly can also provide unique challenges as well. After players hit sequences of notes, the game will automatically enter Fever Mode, which can grant sizable score bonuses.
Furthermore, the game’s modes will undoubtedly feel familiar. In the primary Stage Mode, players pick a difficulty in which cues appear on four lanes or six lanes. During each of the three stages, players pick a song and move onto the next stage by accurately hitting enough notes. Once players clear a song during Stage Mode, they can pick that track freely in Freestyle Mode. World Tour Mode provides plenty of missions that test players’ ability to read notes and maintain combos. Each mission has a predetermined mission parameter as well as a specific track or a set of songs. Some missions require an extended combo across multiple songs, and others obscure incoming notes.
By completing missions and reaching specific experience levels, players can unlock new content at a brisk pace. This content includes avatars and songs, which helps keep the game fresh. After extended play, players can also unlock the daunting 6 TRAX FX mode that notably increases the game’s difficulty by requiring L and R button inputs on top of reading six lanes at once. The unlock pacing feels fair, and it also helps that avatars provide boosts such as combo protection and multipliers to experience gain.
The game’s soundtrack is full of fantastic catchy high tempo tracks that lead to an entertaining music game experience. Certain songs like “Boomerang” and “Miami Style” contain straightforward lyrics that can really stick in players’ heads for a while. Veteran DJ Max contributors such as NieN, 3rd Coast, Tsukasa, and NDLee contributed new tracks to this game, which is another plus as well. The game includes numerous sub-genres of pop, house, electronic, rock, and dance music, and it is quite fun exploring the game’s offerings.
The Switch’s numerous unique control schemes suit the game well. Experimenting with the Switch’s different handheld and docked mode inputs is entertaining. Much like the original Vita version, players can choose to use either touch-based commands or buttons in handheld mode. If players so chose, they could even freely alternate between touching the screen and using buttons in mid song. While players can remove the Joy-Cons in order to play the game in a tablet-like touch-based fashion, a few situations still require button use. The most notable example is that 6 TRAX FX’s L and R inputs require Joy-Cons or a Pro Controller. A few other situations such as changing notes’ scroll speed also require button use as well. Naturally, when the Switch is docked, players must use the Joy-Cons or the Pro Controller. It actually feels quite comfortable playing the game with detached Joy-Cons. The one oddity is that the analog sticks on the Joy-Cons and Pro Controller are asymmetrical, which might require a bit of adjustment for anyone accustomed to the symmetrical stick layout on the Vita or the Dual Shock 4. Flicking the analog sticks correctly can take some practice, but the experience is always worthwhile.
SUPERBEAT: XONiC is an exciting new addition to the Switch’s growing library. The Switch version is a wonderful way to experience the title on the go or at home, and players have plenty of control options. The game provides plenty of songs, patterns, and missions to keep players occupied, and unlocking content can be a rewarding brisk process. Nurijoy and PM Studios’ collaborative efforts on the original Vita version led to endless rhythm gaming fun, and it has been quite wonderful being able to relive the experience on other platforms. This release of SUPERBEAT: XONiC truly works well on the Switch and can provide plenty of enjoyment for anyone interested in the rhythm gaming genre.