'KickBeat Steam Edition (PC)' - High-Def Digest Review - High-Def Digest Forums
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Old 02-02-2014, 05:21 PM
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Post 'KickBeat Steam Edition (PC)' - High-Def Digest Review

The 'KickBeat Steam Edition (PC)' review is up.

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Old 02-02-2014, 06:01 PM
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Never heard of this game.
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:24 PM
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I think this review missed the whole purpose of the game. It makes no claim to combining rhythm and fighting games, and deducting points because you thought it was a different kind of game seems odd. From the store page header: "From indie pioneers Zen Studios (makers of Pinball FX2 and CastleStorm) comes KickBeat, an innovative rhythm game with a Kung Fu theme..."

Instead, its purpose is to use real, video game-style visuals instead of the abstract shapes and scripted background animations that other rhythm games employ.

The reviewer makes the head-scratching argument that because non-abstract visuals make timing more difficult, the game is flawed. This argument does not hold water. We could try applying that argument to any other genre that requires precise timing and dexterity to see how weak it is. Pretty much any action/sports/FPS/TPS game qualifies as a game that requires timing and dexterity. Sure, all of those games would be easier if reduced to abstract visuals: think FPS games with no textures, only brightly colored boxes for enemies to make them stand out more against their backgrounds so they are easier to spot and shoot. Why, then, is it OK - even desirable - for those games to use more immersive, concrete visuals and not KickBeat? Would any reviewer deduct points from Madden because it's harder to play when the players are 3D characters rather than simple Xs and Os?

The reason the review makes this argument is that he is unable to separate his prejudices about what rhythm games should be, based on what he's played in the past, and his analysis of Kickbeat. Those prejudices have made it more difficult for him to adapt to non-abstract visuals in a rhythm context, and hence he sees it as a flaw, rather than embracing this advance in the genre and adapting to the added challenge it brings (tempered by the reduced challenge in other aspects of the game, such as how frequently enemies appear).
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Old 02-04-2014, 03:11 AM
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You seem to have jumped to a couple of conclusions. When I said a more simplified visual style might have made things better, I wasn't referring to something along the lines of Guitar Hero or DDR. I was thinking more about cleaning up the effects a bit and making the strike beat indicators clearer, especially in their preemptive states. I'd never suggest the developers take away the whole fighting to music thing - that's the whole game! I blame myself for not making that clear though.

Another thing I should say - I had absolutely no problem getting through the first three difficulty levels. I never failed a song until I tried the hardest difficulty, so I don't think I had an inability to adapt to the game's take on the genre. My issues weren't with the overall idea, they were with the synchronization of music with the beats - the game's dependence on visual indicators to connect you with the song, indicators that sometimes failed to properly communicate what you needed to do, is a crutch. The one requirment of any rhythm game is that the music, to some degree, drives the gameplay. Especially when those visual indicators aren't enough, there needs to be a better balance between the visual and the audio in how the game tells you what to do.

So yeah, I had no problem with the visual concept. It's the execution that was lacking. You brought up FPS games as an example. The best of those games don't create difficulty by confusing the visuals, they do it with smart AI, complex and rewarding game mechanics, etc. No matter the visual style, whether it's Battlefield, Portal or one dot shooting at another, successful communication is about clarity of information, not conceptual expression. All those games work because, no matter the style, the player is informed exactly as much as he/she needs to be. That's not the case in Kickbeat. I'd argue that, as a result, Guitar Hero and DDR are both more immersive games too, because they both get right to the point in what they're trying to do.

Had Kickbeat made an effort to capitalize on the mashup of fighting and rhythm, employing a more dynamic sort of combat, then I wouldn't be so quick to compare it to those other titles. As it is, I'm not punishing the game for not doing that, I'm punishing it for not doing what it tries to do very well. That's where the lower score is coming from, though I'd also argue a 3/5 isn't that bad. Of course, the all powerful Metacritic disagrees.

On that same Steam page you found your quote, Zen also used this quote from the Joystiq review - "“KickBeat succeeds as both a rhythm game and a fighting one." I respect the opinions of my fellow reviewers, so I won't say they're wrong. Nor will I tell you that you're wrong. I'll just disagree.
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