Controls, game modes, music selection, and presentation are the most important factors in a rhythm game for me. SUPERBEAT: XONiC excels at all of these and even leaves the competition far behind in some cases.
Most rhythm games on the Vita support touch and button controls. The note commands fly outwards from the middle of the screen in a similar manner to Persona 4: Dancing All Night. Depending on the notes, you either use the face buttons, analog sticks, or shoulder buttons. I found a sweet spot with using touch controls for most things but relying on the analog sticks for some notes. I love how you can switch control styles anytime or even use a hybrid of both.
Rhythm game difficulty is something that makes or breaks the experience for many. Difficulty settings here are really great, giving you a good challenge throughout. 4 TRAX mode will only require using two face buttons on each side. 6 TRAX is what I would consider normal mode and it makes you use almost all the note types. 6 TRAK FX is hard mode and it introduces the shoulder buttons and a combination of other buttons at the same time, involving holding some while tapping others. Some of the faster songs are absolute hell on 6 TRAK FX for me. Your power bar decreases like a health bar in a fighting game and if it drops to zero, the song will go on, but you will not earn any more points and the song won’t be cleared. Fever mode is triggered when you get the fever bar on the top right to full with combos.
There are two main game modes. Stage lets you play three songs in a row after selecting a difficulty, and failing any of the three songs results in a game over. FREE STYLE mode lets you play any unlocked song and is basically a free mode. Clearing songs will unlock DJ Avatars for you to use and various other things like songs, more note sounds, and more. World Tour is challenge mode and you unlock stages here with every few levels. Each tour section has three or more challenge songs with new clearing objectives. These range from combo requirements to other things like not failing a certain number of notes. In most rhythm games, I stick to free mode but it has me wanting more each time I play it.
Rhythm games mostly feature music from the same genre or style and this is another area where it goes against the current. I haven’t seen any music game have such a diverse song selection. There are more genres covered than there are songs in most other games. I’m not even talking about just the broad genres here. SUPERBEAT features music from genres like electro house, sludge metal, piano trance, gypsy jazz, and k-pop to name a few. Each song is accompanied by a beautiful loading image and even a music video in some cases. Being able to play Heavy Day from Guilty Gear Xrd Sign was awesome and I’m glad there will be DLC from Guilty Gear, and Blazblue games. I haven’t been this impressed with the presentation of a handheld game in a while. Everything from the title menu to animations when you select modes looks beautiful and consistent with the art style.
My big complaint is the visuals behind the notes during a song. Persona 4: Dancing All Night featured characters dancing on various stages and the Project Diva F games had unique performances for each song. This just has a subtle screensaver like pattern that is there for the sake of it. Heavy Day from Guilty Gear has an accompanying music video and I wish more of the songs did this. I had some issues with the game crashing when I tried loading the DJ Ranking mode.
SUPERBEAT: XONiC is my current obsession. When I’m not playing through the songs, I’m thinking about them. I can’t wait to finish this review so I can get back to leveling up on 6 TRAK FX. Every fan of rhythm games needs this in their life. Sony may have given up on the Vita but third parties are keeping it alive and how.
Diverse song selection.
Great touch and button controls.
No proper music videos for most songs.
World DJ Ranking is buggy.