These type of games require no story to get things going, however, I did appreciate the little story there was here. Basically, you start on a journey from a very humble studio all the way to the final showdown which is held at the peace summit. Along the way you get to build your crew and find your style across eight locations each with three songs for you to master. Between each venue there are some nice snippets told in a comic book, cartoon style about finding your rhythm through the music and other cool things I won’t spoil here.
The audio is the meat and drink of this game as, without it, it wouldn’t work and thankfully the sound design is excellent. Here we have Kid Koala who produced original music for this game along with the music which was produced for the animated series of Floor Kids back in 2007. Kid Koala, if you don’t know, is a Canadian DJ and is also part of the hip hop super group Delton 3030 and The Slew. Kid Koala has DJ’ed at many events over the past featuring break dancing and his experience really shows here. The music is raw and full of energy which is perfect for the break dancing aspect of this game. The music I feel won’t be to everyone’s taste and that’s something you will have to consider here. Check out the trailer below for the type of music this game incorporates.
As you progress through the game, the tracks become more complex and harder to follow the beat too. If you love all kinds of music then I am sure you will enjoy this. You will have your favourite tracks and some which will not be as enjoyable but all are in keeping with the essence of this game. The sound effects when pulling off moves all sound brilliant and flow well with each moved successfully pulled off. Another highlight is the sound the crowd make when you’re doing well.
JonJon a former break dancer himself created the illustrations of the Floor Kids and animations back in 2007 when they appeared in a series of short animated films. These were also incorporated at concerts where Kid Koala would play. In 2014 the next step was to make a video game and JonJon has brought a really fantastic art style here. Like the music, the Floor Kids look and feel raw and rough around the edges. The kids large round heads make them look cartoony but with the rough lines around the drawings, edgy too. It just really works, but seeing these characters move is something the developers have nailed. The visuals and music work in tandem well here as they match each other perfectly.
Each drawing was taken from the original drawings and then digitised for the video game. What is super impressive if you look at the animations intently is the smooth transitions between each of the moves. I am not a break dancer by any means but I have watched break dancing many times and to me, it seems like the animator knew exactly what moves worked well together. To transfer that knowledge into the game is very impressive and you can tell that many many hours were spent getting this right. The love and attention to detail here is outstanding and for me, aesthetically and musically this game does very little wrong.
The game looks great on both handheld and docked with no performance issues. It has been optimised really well for the system which is great news if your looking to purchase.
As always though it’s no good having great music and visuals if the game is no fun. In essence, this is a rhythm game with a slight difference to most you would have probably played. Usually, you would have to time button presses in line with what shows up on screen. There is a little bit of that here but it is by no means the main theme of this game. No, here you have to freestyle your way through which means pressing all 4 buttons X,Y,B and A along with L & R and using the analogue stick. The two long verse sections are there to keep the rhythm too how you see fit. Weather that is a double tap of each button or single doesn’t matter . The scoring system takes this into account which is great. When the chorus comes in then you will have a section to keep in time too, like traditional rhythm games.
Each dance is two minutes long and you can pull off whatever moves you want within that time, toprock, downrock, power, freeze, and combo moves. Stringing together combos, and holding freezes for as long as possible to increase your score or spins for example. My favourite is to hold a freeze and while doing so pressing L & R to hop while on your hands unlocking even more points and sending the crowd wild
It’s the number of moves you can pull off which is impressive and how tight the controls are which is really gratifying. Start off with warming up in toprock by pulling off some side steps which consist of simple button pressing to the beat. To really get the crowd warmed up before the heavy stuff starts, then turn the analogue stick 360 degrees to go into a head spin or windmill spin which are classed as power moves and look fantastic. All the while pressing any of the 4 buttons to the beat on the joypad to pull off differing combinations releasing as much bonus as possible. All four move sets feel distinct and feel great to master.
The crowd will ask for you as the player to dance a certain style at specific times and if you do you will earn further points. You win over the crowds with a scoring system that rewards musicality, originality, style and feel. The challenge is really trying to keep things fresh and finding new moves and combos which go well together and that’s what I personally enjoyed discovering the most.
There will also be some short chorus sections where you will have to follow a certain beat and you will have to press buttons on time to what is shown on screen. These are very short and sweet and breaks up the freestyle nature of the game even if it’s for about 20 seconds per dance. Get these right and you will earn bigger scores. At the end of the two minutes, each section will be scored and you will be awarded a number of stars out of five. The more stars you attain the more locations you will unlock allowing you to move onto the next venue. The aim of the game is to dance to three songs at each venue, unlocking more venues and characters along the way and of course trying to attain higher scores.
The freestyle nature of this game is an advantage and disadvantage in my view. Most rhythm games give you structure by following a set of rules. Hit this note at this time and if you hit enough notes you get the high score. This is true of games like Thumper or on other consoles Guitar Hero. This is a game which is super easy to pick up but will be difficult to master. You will have to put in the time to learn the moves and how to link combos together all the while keeping your own rhythm to the beat of the track which gets more complex as you get further in. Think of this as a fighting game, as you learn more moves you become a better fighter. Start putting those moves together making combos and timing the moves right to take out your opponent, only here you are against no one but yourself unless of course, you play against a friend.
The learning curve is just about right and the tutorial as the beginning teaches you all the basics that you need to know. Sometimes I felt like I was just pressing buttons to the beat and just going along with it, not knowing what on earth I was doing. On the first run through I was just trying my best to do the best I could. It takes another run through to start to understand the more advanced techniques and the name of all the moves so you can start to combo them together. So if you decide to purchase this game and you feel overwhelmed by the freestyle nature, give the game time as it will grow on you the more you start to understand it’s mechanics. You can also go to the options screen to see all the moves you have unlocked for each character and the moves are also explained so take the time to learn them.
Playing against a friend is a fun experience and is more like a dance off with some extra added elements. One person gets to dance while the other stands and watches and the Switch supports each player having a joycon so you can both play anywhere which is excellent. While awaiting your turn you can tap buttons to the beat to fill up your burn meter. Once filled you can release a fireball towards the player dancing. The fireball causes the dancer to fall over if not defended by putting up a shield.
I wasn’t that keen on this particular mechanic as I felt it ruined the concentration of the dancer trying to get into a rhythm. Having to worry about a fireball every 20 seconds was a bit of a pain. Being able to turn this off would have been a better design choice so players could just dance.
While the game is fun to play there is no denying that there is a lack of modes here which for me stops the game from reaching greater heights. No online leaderboards or the ability to play with friends online either. Furthermore other than the story and multiplayer mode there are no other modes to break things up here which is a shame.
For $19,90 or £15,99 you are getting a game that oozes quality and it will be fun unlocking,characters, moves,venues and more music. Had there been more modes this would have been even easier to recommend.