Back when the PlayStation Vita was in its prime, there was a music rhythm game released for it that was as mesmerising as it was difficult.
Called SUPERBEAT XONiC, it featured over 50 fantastic songs covering a wide range of genres, but to do them justice you had to possess the reflexes of a ninja. With the PlayStation Vita now pretty much dead as a dodo though, SUPERBEAT XONiC made its way over to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One earlier this year. It’s just as mesmerising as it ever was, but it’s not any easier.
Going by the moniker SUPERBEAT XONiC EX, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One owners aren’t privy to any extra modes or features, but they do get a 10 track DLC compilation included to make the deal that little bit sweeter. Other than that, this is the same old SUPERBEAT XONiC only now you can play it on the big screen with a comfortable controller in your hand. It’s the best way to play it in my opinion.
If you wan’t a detailed explanation of how SUPERBEAT XONiC EX plays you can check out my review of the PlayStation Vita version – there’s no real difference here apart from that there’s obviously no touchscreen functionality. The gist of the game is just like any other music rhythm game though – as icons speed at you on the screen, you need to press the appropriate button as it passes over a marker. Simple, but it works. There’s no point in trying to reinvent the wheel when there’s nothing wrong with the wheel in the first place.
Stage mode is where you’ll be spending the brunt of your time playing SUPERBEAT XONiC EX. You choose between multiple “Trax” complexities before completing a trio of songs, each with their own difficulty levels. Beginners will definitely want to start with 4 Trax, challenging them to make use of two face buttons, up and down on the d-pad and both analogue sticks to make their way through songs. As you feel more at ease with the control system and gain confidence you can move on to six tracks which adds another button and d-pad input into the mix. And those who truly master the game can also bring FX into the fray, necessitating the use of the shoulder buttons.
No matter what Trax setting you choose, the difficulty can be further tweaked by adjusting the speed of the song you’re playing or enabling effectors. You also gain experience and level up as you play, unlocking new songs, note sounds and, more importantly, DJ icons which can be equipped to change your parameters. While performing excellently in SUPERBEAT XONiC EX really is rather hard, it’s quite lenient on lacklustre performances, and with a DJ icon equipped that doubles your health or gives you a limited screw-up shield as I like to call it, you’ll struggle to not finish a song to be honest.
It’s because of this why SUPERBEAT XONiC EX is so addictive though. While the difficulty level is sky-high, you never truly feel punished by not being able to handle it. By allowing you to at least see songs through to the end you can get to grips with their note patterns, improving your performance every time. You’ll be challenged but you’ll want to improve, and with dedication you will, all the while listening to some great songs.
As you develop your skills you can head on over to World Tour mode to take on an abundance of challenges, and if you want to see how you stack up to the worldwide competition you can with online leaderboards. SUPERBEAT XONiC EX is one of those games you’ll keep going back to again and again, and with new DLC tracks being released you’ll be able to expand the selection of songs to prolong the experience even further.
For music rhythm game fans, SUPERBEAT XONiC EX is an essential purchase. It’s challenging but accessible, and the wide range of songs and customisation options available means there’s plenty of content to go at, just as you like it. Every bit as good as the PlayStation Vita but with more content and the ability to play it on a big screen and with a better sound system, SUPERBEAT XONiC EX will push your hand-eye coordination to the limit, but you’ll enjoy every eye-watering minute of it.