Floor Kids is one of the nicest surprises I’ve experienced on the Nintendo Switch.
Aside from being utterly unique, this music rhythm game developed by MERJ Media mostly does away with one of the genre’s bugbears: having to intently stare at notes moving across the screen.
Dancing is what Floor Kids is all about, and to do that all you need to be able to do is tap along to the beat. What moves you break out to impress the bystanders is up to you, but if you want to score big there are a number of complications that you’ll have to get your head around. Stick with it, and you’ll find yourself immersed in a game that’s not only fun, but also probably deeper than you initially gave it credit for.
The main attraction of Floor Kids is its story mode, which has you showing off your dance moves in eight venues spread across a city. There are three music tracks to bust your moves to in each venue, with crowns being awarded based on your performance. The more crowns you earn the more venues you unlock, though to unlock the final venue you’ll also need to unlock all the available dancers too.
Eight dancers make up Floor Kids‘ lineup, each with their own moves. To unlock them all you’ll need to collect recruit cards by performing adequately at venues at which randomly appear. It’s a cinch to unlock them all to be honest, but with the game’s narrative being little more than a passable diversion, it makes playing through story mode very worthwhile.
Initially, Floor Kids seems like a game you can just breeze through, and in some regards it is. Without touching the left analogue stick you can just tap any face button to the beat to perform toprock moves. Do the same after tapping down on the analogue stick and you can perform downrock moves. Toprock and downrock moves form the bedrock of your performance, with zero risks attached. If you want to score big, however, you need to work power moves and freeze moves into your routines too.
Power moves are performed by rotating the left analogue stick in either direction, and will have your character quite literally spinning. Freeze moves, on the other hand, are performed by holding the analogue in any four directions while holding the corresponding face button, causing your character to pull a balanced pose. Just make sure you let go of the buttons before you fall over!
You can muddle your way through the game using basic moves if you want, but chances are you’ll struggle to get more than three of the five available crowns on songs past the first venue or so if you do. To really master Floor Kids you need to take things to the next level, meeting the requests of onlookers that frequently pop up while adding in some advanced moves.
Power moves, for example, can be sped up, and those who like to be risky can try to pull off hops while in a freeze move. You can also perform back flips and poses for extra style. The most lucrative moves you can do though are those which form combos.
Like a fighting game, each character has a number of combos for you to master. You’ll need to learn their movesets well, and upon performing a move that can be strung into another, a prompt on the screen will remind you. Successfully pull off all the moves in a combo and you’ll receive a very nice score bonus. It can take a while to master adding all these little touches to your routines, but it’s worth it.
Performances are also interspersed with a couple of more traditional rhythm game challenges. A grid will appear on the screen, and it’s your task to tap a button on those marked with an X before furiously tapping any and all buttons like a mad person. Initially these sections can seem tricky to pull off – the timing of them just doesn’t feel quite right, visually – but if you just go with the beat I found that they work much better.
The beauty of Floor Kids is that it’s a rhythm game in which you can simply concentrate on the action and enjoy what’s happening on screen. You’re not just staring at button prompts and racing to press buttons. It means that sometimes you feel like you’re just along for the ride, but the more you get involved the more you feel like you’re in charge of what’s happening.
Aside from its story mode, Floor Kids also offers a multiplayer mode that is a huge amount of fun. Two players can battle it out using any combination of characters and songs unlocked in story mode, taking it in turns to show off what they’ve got before their scores are tallied up. Whoever’s currently not dancing can try and make things trickier for their opponent by tapping along to the beat and unleashing a ‘burn’ – a visual fireball – upon their opponent to disrupt their dance. It can be successfully blocked, however, sending it back to the aggressor’s feet.
Floor Kids does have a couple of niggles, but it’s otherwise a brilliant entry into the music rhythm genre. The presentation of the traditional rhythm challenges inserted into each song are a bit bland, for example, and the game does a very poor job of explaining mechanics like how to perform combos. It rewards those players who stick with it and learn to master its unique gameplay, however.
Without a doubt, the audio and visuals of Floor Kids are the stars of the show though. Its art style is simply gorgeous thanks to the animation of the award-winning JonJon, while every one of Kid Koala’s music tracks will have have your head noddin’ and your foot tappin’. After just one song it’s hard to not fall in love with Floor Kids – it’s full of just so much charm.
The Switch’s library of games goes from strength to strength, but Floor Kids stands out for all the right reasons. There’s nothing else quite like it on Switch – in terms of presentation nor gameplay. If you’re a fan of music rhythm games, Floor Kids sits alongside the likes of Voez and Superbeat Xonic EX as being a ‘must have’. In fact, scratch that, if you’re simply a fan of games you need to have Floor Kids in your life. It may require a bit of digging to get the most out of it, but once you’ve cracked it, it’ll warm your soul.