As you may have heard, KickBeat has been delayed a week in Europe. The game will now release on 11th September for PS3 and PS Vita (still Cross-Buy entitled). We are terribly sorry for this delay! We do have a new trailer for you to watch – hopefully that will hold you over until next week!
So, why KickBeat? Here are a few reasons we made the game and why we know you’ll enjoy it: (more…)
It’s been a long, long time coming, but we are so excited to announce that KickBeat will be available for download not only to your PS Vita, but also on PlayStation 3 on 4th September.
We heard so many of you asking for the game on PS3 so we put our heads down, guzzled gallons of energy drinks and just made it happen! Best of all, the game will be Cross Buy, so buy it once and enjoy it on both screens at no additional charge.
If you are hearing about KickBeat for the first time, I welcome you to check out a few of our previous blog posts and trailers. (more…)
Hey there, PlayStation fans. Lots of excitement in the air these days as this year’s E3 has been one of the most exciting yet. Not only do we get our first real look at the Playstation 4 - I’m pre-ordering it the second it’s available, myself – but PS Vita has gotten its fair share of E3 love too. KickBeat, for one, is playable in the Sony booth!
If this is your first time hearing about KickBeat, introductions are in order. KickBeat is a rhythm action game where you fight baddies in time with the music. It’s different from other rhythm games in that you play the action itself instead of playing an interface (bars, arrows, button icons, etc.) that’s slapped on top of the action.
Enemies come at you from all directions, and you fight them off by pressing the buttons representing those directions at the right time. So let’s say an enemy is attacking you from the left. Hit the Square or left button (or tap the left side of the screen) when he gets close enough, which will match up with a beat from the song, and you’ll serve him some kung fu smackdown. Simple enough, right? There are some more advanced controls later on, but you get the general idea. (more…)
At first blush, you could be forgiven for thinking that KickBeat is a new riff on Beats, that seminal PSP downloadable gem that transformed your MP3 collection into an engaging button-tapping rhythm challenge. Much like Beats, KickBeat awards you points for accurately tapping combinations of the four face buttons (or four quadrants on the front touchscreen) in time to the music and subtle visual cues.
But KickBeat is a far more ambitious game, both mechanically and aesthetically. Abandoning the abstract icons that clutter the interfaces of many music games, KickBeat reimagines the rhythm game as a chop-socky fighting scene with an agile protagonist battling hordes of incoming goons in a circular arena. Each successive hit you land yields a bigger bonus multiplayer and more points, while missing an incoming attack diminishes your life meter. The game ramps up slowly but surely. Smacking down the most basic yellow enemy type is easy enough, but the action quickly accelerates as new enemies types are introduced — red enemies attack from two places at once, while blue aggressors come in with a tricky one-two combo. Before long, you’ll be working up a sweat as you fend off blistering volleys of incoming enemies to the pounding background music.
After I spent a few minutes warming up with the controls, I settled down to kick some duff in the game’s Story mode. I found my rhythm through the first few songs, powering through Celldweller’s ultra-catchy Switchback and Marilyn Manson’s thundering opus The Beautiful People. The pace steadily ramped up through Southpaw Swagger (It’s Showtime) and Papa Roach (Last Resort) until I tapped out on a song by an Australian drum-and-bass act called Pendulum. The high-octane, pumped-up electronic-infused metal soundtrack was alarmingly infectious, but once the final version of the game lands I’ll be interested in importing some MP3s in the “Beat Your Music” mode to see how KickBeat keeps up.
Hello, PlayStation fans! I’m Neil Sorens, the Creative Director at Zen Studios, and I’m very excited to tell you about our new game: KickBeat.
KickBeat is a music game; it just doesn’t look like one. Check it out, and then after the jump I’ll tell you about how it works and some of the development history.
Music games have a long tradition of innovation. From the peripheral-based games like Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution to controller-based ones like Frequency and Patapon, these games allow us to experience music in new and often unexpected ways.
KickBeat follows in the tradition of this type of music game. Although its beat-matching mechanic is not complex and will be familiar to fans of the music game genre, KickBeat does a couple things that make it different from anything else you’ve played…and with publishers afraid to do anything except sequels to dance games, what better time than now to give the genre a kick in the pants?
The first thing about KickBeat that is immediately visible is its fighting theme. If you watch the old Hong Kong kung fu movies, you’ve probably noticed that the fight choreography is heavily rhythmic. We noticed that too, and figured it would be a good theme for a beat-matching game. Combine the martial arts theme with heavy, aggressive music that goes well with punching and kicking, and you’ve got a game with a little more edge than the ones where you get jiggy to the latest autotuned pop hit (not that there’s anything wrong with that, especially with friends and/or limited sobriety).
Second, we got rid of the bars, arrows, and button icons that other music games rely on for action cues and replaced them with fully 3D animated characters. Instead of just seeing characters in the background moving to a preset script as eye candy while the actual gameplay takes place in an abstract 2D interface, you actually control and react to those 3D characters. That means you actually get to focus your attention on what those characters are doing! As you play the game, you’re creating your own fight sequence with your button presses (or screen touches). We even let you get rid of all the other interface parts (such as score) if you like, so that there are no distractions from the action.
As you may have gathered from the trailer, enemies circle around you before attacking from one or more of the four cardinal directions. Their attacks are synched to the song’s beat and to other high-energy moments in the music: guitars, vocals, and so on. To defeat one, you just press the button corresponding to their direction at the correct time (right as they move in to attack you). For example, when an enemy attacks from the right, you press the right direction button or the Circle button to send them sprawling. You can also just use the touch screen – tap the portion of the screen where the enemy is attacking from, and you’ll get the same result. Two or three enemies at once? No problem! Just press all the appropriate buttons/regions at once. You can use both the directional and face buttons simultaneously, an essential skill to learn once you get to the expert difficulty levels and you’re beset by a constant stream of enemies.
Now that you’ve got the basics, let me tell you a little bit more about the game’s history. It’s been around in idea form since 2006, and we started development on it in 2009 – an exciting time for me, as it’s my first original game idea to be put into production. Yep, KickBeat is my baby!
Although the game concept is a very simple one, it turned out that it’s a really, really hard game to make. Because animations take a certain amount of time to play, it’s very difficult to give them the instantaneous response time that you need in a beat-matching game, while still keeping the motion believable. We started out by motion-capturing a martial arts champion, only to realize later that none of it would be usable for the game. Essentially, we had to start over on the animation system – but this time, we knew the problems we’d come across and designed the system to overcome them. As a result, almost 100% of the animations in the game are hand-animated, no small task for a game that needs as many animations as ours. And I think the animators did a fantastic job of creating a martial arts style that is acrobatic, fluid, responsive, and just plain fun to watch.
Selecting the music for KickBeat’s hard-hitting soundtrack was an equally daunting task, but very rewarding when you manage to find that perfect track or hidden gem and get a deal signed. We didn’t get every song we wanted – I really wanted the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” for example, but it didn’t work out. However, those setbacks just made us look harder to find great music in unlikely places. We ended up with 18 tracks across multiple genres (mostly drum & bass, rock, and hip-hop), from big names like Pendulum and Rob Zombie to some stuff you probably haven’t heard before. The most unusual? A track from Shen Yi, a Taiwanese rapper – yes, it’s in Mandarin, and yes, it is awesome.
We also thought it would be fun to be able to put your own music into the game – that was my favourite feature in Audiosurf. We’ve got a feature that will allow you to do just that, with no scripting on your part required – just put in a couple pieces of info, customize a couple settings to your taste, and the game creates a new level for you to play.
One other part of the game I want to mention is the story. Because we’ve put all this effort into making characters a central focus of the game, we needed to give these characters a human touch. Otherwise, they’re just animated props. Our story revolves around a lovestruck and unlikely hero drawn into a battle for control of the world’s music. Its light-hearted fare, but we’ve done a bunch of hand drawn and fully voiced sequences that really bring the characters to life.
Well, there you have it. KickBeat will release this year, exclusively on PS Vita. It’s a real thrill to finally be able to talk about the game after working on it so long, and I can’t wait to see what you all think of it! We will be showing the game at E3, so there will be more news surfacing soon.