+Performs extremely well on the Nintendo Switch
+68 tracks for players to enjoy
+Very intuitive controls that are learned by playing the game continually
+Extremely rewarding no matter what you do
-Can be overwhelming from time-to-time for players new to beat rhythm titles
-Tutorials themselves are quite punishing for players at first
-Switch controller thumbsticks do not play nicely with the games thumbstick requirements
I’ve always been a fan of beat rhythm games. I first got my start at playing dance rhythm and beat rhythm titles in March of 1999 thanks to Dance Dance Revolution, or as it is lovingly called, DDR. I’ve invested in games such as Deemo, Guitar Hero, Just Dance, and even Rock Band. But something was always missing. Something that was fun, portable, and highly enjoyable to play.
That’s where beat rhythm title SUPERBEAT XONiC comes into play. Having previously been released on PlayStation Vita, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Since it’s release, I’ve had a few chances to grab the game during sales, but ultimately passed as the funds to receive it had dried up. Now here I am, 2 years since its release, and staring down on the Nintendo Switch version of the game.
A version I can play a few songs while waiting on a ride to end, food to arrive, or even my cup of Joe. Lets be honest, I’ve been playing it while uploading videos and articles as of late. So it’s been a nice little experience, one that I’ve actually enjoyed during install times for review games, breaks between show episodes, and even having a bit of time to myself while hanging out with friends.
The gist of SUPERBEAST: XONiC is quite simple: hit all the buttons at the right moment, depending on the song played, and learn the games – at times – complicated controls while playing. This time around there’s an option to play with 2-3 “lines” on each side, each one bound to a specified button, and each one acting as a different key than the other. Each of them corresponding to a thumb stick, a directional pad button, or simply a face button such as “A”, “B”, “X”, or “Y”.
There’s even specified sounds that can be activated using the console/hand-held devices rear triggers. Needless to say, if you are new to the game, these commands are hard to learn and can be downright impossible when first starting out. This is mostly in your beginning hours though. These controls become easier to learn the further in you get. To help players become acquainted with the game, developer Nurijoy have help simplified the game into three essential modes, which serve as your overall experience, and prove to be quite fun. These modes include 4-Trax, which is 2 “rows” per side, 6-trax, which is 3 “rows” per side, and 6-trax plus FX, which is a bit harder as you have FX sounds, and a Free Mode.
Luckily, the studio behind the game slowly eases players into each of the games mechanics, allowing players to jump between multiple modes, and learn each of the games tracks. The most difficult part about it, is learning the 6-trax mode, and adding FX in for a full-blown beat rhythm experience. Even now, with several weeks with the experience, probably culminating to somewhere near 10-15 hours played, I still find the full-blown experience mildly overwhelming, leading to a moderately cringe worthy performance.
Even with 62 songs unlock, I’ve been told I have somewhere near 6 more to go, and those 6 more will be unlocked as I complete the games most difficult songs. Some of them range as simple piano themed ensembles to super fast, super hard electro-rock tracks, which are fun in their own right. Even though I was overwhelmed during the games moderately mediocre tutorial, I actually came to enjoy SUPERBEAT: XONiC’s overall difficulty. It’s one that enforces the idea of “learn by doing” methods. This meant I could adjust some of the games values. So I could slow down the games speed, tempo, and even sound queues for when I clicked corresponding buttons for the symbols on screen.
The best part is, even on the Nintendo Switch, I found myself learning quickly through playing the games a few times over. Each time I did, I found myself getting better at what I was doing, and I found the difficulty not so overwhelming after a few playthroughs. I even managed to clear a few of the games more challenging 6-star difficulty songs with little-to-no challenge after a short period. The best thing to tell yourself when becoming overwhelmed is a quite simple task: tell yourself “just one more time”. It pays off in the end and will not overwhelm you while playing some of the more difficult songs.
One reason I kept going at this song wasn’t a small one due to the games overall addictive nature. I came to enjoy the games overall well rounded progression system. Whether I won, lost, or came to be defeated by the game itself, I learned quite quickly I was always earning something. At one point I earned a new avatar for my DJ portrait, and I even earned new power ups through each of these random portraits. All of them featured their own unique power-up’s. One of them gave me slightly more XP per song beaten and even a bit more progression overall.
These power-up’s aren’t a small feat in any way. They are a core part of the games overall experience. An experience that has earned me quite a few songs while playing through the game. One of my buffs I had from one portrait even earned me a shield, which prevented me from “taking damage” while missing some of my beats. Another one even helped push me 2-4 more levels after a few tracks completed. I was able to unlock a few songs, a few more portraits, and even enjoy my overall experience while replaying some of the tracks I’ve already completed a time or two more.
But because we are reviewing a Nintendo Switch game, we do need to discuss how the game works, feels, and plays on a mechnical level for the Nintendo Switch. During my time with it, I spent a vast majority of my time in handheld mode, with the Joy-Cons hooked to the handheld itself. Because we are playing in handheld mode most of the time, I consciously monitored the games usage of the battery. Every hour or so, I would check my battery, somewhere near 5 hours, I noticed my battery would finally hit between 30-35 percent charge. After all, this game is not nearly as demanding on the CPU or GPU of the Nintendo Switch.
After nearly 6 1/2 hours, I finally found myself docking or plugging the Switch in. During the docked mode, I did find the game a bit easier to play. My hands were lest cramped using the Joy-Cons with their “controller grip”. Due to the weird placement of the Joy-Cons, I’m sure it’d been easier for me to play using a Nintendo Switch Pro Classic Controller. It’d made it a bit easier due to the placement of the Joy-Con thumbsticks.
Even in docked mode, the songs come out quite clear, and they roar to life while connected to a TV using a soundbar or surround sound. I even found myself taking time to hook up a pair of USB headphones via the dock itself. The sound then was still quite impressive. The game still performed around the same as far as frame rate. I noticed the picture quality did seem to bump up a significant amount, sitting around 1080p as expected. Since I do n’t have the software or programs to test it, I opted out of ensuring that is indeed what resolution the game was at.
SUPERBEAT XONiC – Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Vita, and Xbox One
Publisher: PM Studios (Switch Version)
Release Date: 11/21/2017
Visually, SUPERBEAT: XONiC is a stunningly beautiful looking game, which could be Regardless if the game was 1080p or not, the game is absolutely beautiful. It’s graphics are even quite stunning, to say the least. Once charged, I did decide to go into handheld mode once more, just to test one minor feature, which included running a set of headphones through the Nintendo Switch’s 3.5mm headset port. Much to my amazement, the sound quality stuck around, and did not disappoint. My only complaint? I couldn’t use my Bluetooth headphones in order to listen to my game.
Even on the Nintendo Switch, the game functions just as you would hope, and does so quite admirably. The frame rates are smooth, battery requirements are minimal, and performance is quite solid. Thankfully, it seems that the Nintendo Switch has quite a bit of potential, enough potential that fans can admire the game more than expected, and enjoy the title while on the go. If you like beat rhythm games, electronic music, a bit of rock, and piano, then SUPERBEAT: XONiC might just be right up your alley for you to enjoy.
Our review is based upon a retail version that was provided to us by the games publisher. For information about our ethics policy please click here.
Final Score: 7 out of 10
About the Writer:
Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the boarders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.