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Kickbeat – Special Edition (PS4) Review


At a Glance...

Formats: PS4
Genre: ,
Final Score
8/ 10

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We Liked?

A unique rhythm mechanic that is easy to learn but oh so challenging to master.

Not So Much?

Not a ton of visual variety.

Final Fiendish Findings?

This ain’t your mama’s rhythm game. Zen Studios brings a brand new experience to your brand new console. A blend of rhythm game and fast paced fighting, Kickbeat – Special Edition is one of those games that is super easy to pick up, but incredibly challenging to master – but you’ll love every minute of […]

Posted September 24, 2014 by

Final Fiendish Findings?

This ain’t your mama’s rhythm game.KickBeat_SpecialEdition_02

Zen Studios brings a brand new experience to your brand new console. A blend of rhythm game and fast paced fighting, Kickbeat – Special Edition is one of those games that is super easy to pick up, but incredibly challenging to master – but you’ll love every minute of trying. First off, let me start by saying that Kickbeat has a kickass soundtrack – and that’s huge for a rhythm game. It’s got Marilyn Manson. It’s got Papa Roach. It’s even got Rob Zombie. And that rocking soundtrack makes the kung fu action all that much more frantic (when enemies are attacking to the beat of “The Beautiful People”, there is no relaxing to be had).

There is a story line to Kickbeat, although you can choose to do some split screen multiplayer, survival mode, or free play if you like as well. You play as a kung fu dude who has to save the world’s music from a bad guy who wants to use the world’s music for evil. You are helped out by Master Fu, a monk who will train you, and then guide you as you fight music everywhere. When you begin, you can only select Lee (the male character), but Mei (the female character) can be unlocked later on, along with new outfits and modes.


The basic idea in Kickbeat is that a series of enemies will attack you in time with whatever music is playing. The length of each level corresponds with the length of each song, meaning you just have to hold your own for a certain length of time while enemies spawn, rather than just defeating a set amount of bad guys. The way that rhythm is worked into the game is really cool. It’s done in 3D, which means that you can be attacked from any direction, even above and below. This makes for some really challenging game play at times, as you try to keep track of the never ending hordes coming at you from every direction.

Your character stands in the middle of the screen, atop a yin-yang symbol. That left side of the symbol is your character’s health, and the left is his chi. Since it’s right there underneath you, it’s really easy to keep track of your stats without risking glancing away from the action to check things out. Health goes down each time you miss a counter attack, and when your health is empty, your battle has ended. Rather than attacking the enemies, you only counter attack, which means you must perfectly time your actions to their attacks.


As enemies approach you, they will light up the button that corresponds with their position at the exact moment you need to press it. For instance, enemies attacking from the bottom of the screen will light up an “x” button, while those coming from the top light up a triangle. You can see them coming, but if you hit the button too soon it will count as a miss. Too many misses (ie, button mashing) will lead to fatigue, leaving you unable to perform for a little while. The enemies come at you in time with the song, which really helps you get into a nice rhythm, even when there are tons of them coming at you.

There are several types of enemies, and the game keeps track of how many you defeat of each per level. Basic enemies just come at you on their own, and are fairly simple to defeat. Rapid attack enemies will have a whole bunch of them coming at you in succession, and you’ll even get some that come at you at the exact same time, requiring you to push both buttons simultaneously to defeat them both. There are even linked enemies, which require you to hold down the button to defeat the first one, and then release it to hit the second. It’s all fairly easy to understand (the tutorial does a nice job of getting you used to each type), but when you’re in the midst of a frantic attack, it takes some serious skills to keep it all together.

There are a few extras to help you out along the way. Some of the enemies have orbs floating above their heads, with various bonuses to be had. These range from extra health to bonus points to extra chi, and they’re a great help if you can pick them up. To pick up the orbs, you need to double tap when counter attacking that enemy – again, an easy enough mechanic, but super challenging at times when there are seemingly millions attacking you. If you fill up your chi meter, you can release it for a doubled multiplier, and you can even get a shield that will hold off damage for a short time.

Kickbeat – Special Edition is just super fun to play. The awesome soundtrack will have you jamming as you stave off hordes of enemies, and the unique rhythm mechanics are perfectly orchestrated to make things both challenging and fun. Although there isn’t tons of visual variety to be had, it makes up for that in spades with a game mechanic that is addicting and engaging to play.


U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)


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