In this day and age, the Kinect is increasingly feeling like Microsoft has stopped trying to push it. Most Xbox One consoles now come without it, it’s not as heavily marketed, and the amount of titles that make heavy use of it have slowed to a trickle. However, indie developer Virtual Air Guitar is still providing a steady stream of Kinect-centric comment, as they’ve previously released Boom Ball and Squid Hero for the peripheral.
Now, the developer has brought gamers Beatsplosion for Kinect, a title that successfully blends accessible gameplay and controls with a clever concept. Those looking for a game that offers a good amount of variation as it progresses might be disappointed in its repetitive levels and short length, but the final product is an enjoyable one for anybody looking for a good reason to hook up their Kinect again.
The basic concept is that you control your silhouette through a perpetually forward-moving environment, similar to a rail shooter. You can also control your horizontal and vertical movement by stepping left or right, along with ducking and jumping. However, the most important element when it comes to controls is represented on the sides of your floating platform by two large arms, with appealingly exaggerated fists that copy the movements of your own limbs.
You’ll make use of these fists to punch and shatter various crystalized objects in each level, ranging from pillars and floating gems to curved bunches of objects you need to swipe all in a row. You have a short window of time to hit each object, but the game grades you based on your timing, meaning you need to anticipate the perfect time for all your targets. Thankfully, Beatsplosion offers you help in that regard, as you’re guided to hit each object to the beat of the background music, adding a basic rhythm element to the game.
The main campaign offers both Easy and Expert difficulties, and is divided into several belts, which are the equivalent of stages with three individual levels that must be cleared to progress further. Each world also hosts the ability to play a level with randomized elements and a 20-minute endurance run for enthusiasts.
One annoying factor I encountered was that to unlock further belts, you also sometimes have to replay levels to build up an in-game currency, which acts as an additional gateway. Thankfully, decent players shouldn’t encounter it too much, as I met the necessary quota for all but one belt.
When all these elements come together, the game is generally fun and involving. I stuck to the Easy campaign to get through it quicker, and while I did sense a bit of a difficulty spike 2/3 of the way through rather than a more gradual transition, it was still an enjoyable experience overall.
It’s easy to get into each level’s groove, satisfying to land a perfectly timed hit, and silly fun to move your huge fists around freely between each section. The actual soundtrack isn’t anything special on its own, and I was also disappointed to find that neither hitting or missing objects affects it like in most rhythm games. Thankfully, the physical involvement the game demands from players still results in you feeling engaged and involved.
Beatsplosion is also pretty short, with the campaign clocking in at around two or three hours total for reasonably skilled players. Those willing to tackle both difficulties and the more challenging achievements will still be able to get extra mileage out of the game, though. It also helps that Beatsplosion goes for a bit cheaper than most indie titles today at only $12.99.
As far as other quibbles go, there’s no denying that the game doesn’t try to mix things up or introduce new elements much. You’ll certainly have a lot more thrown at you in the later levels, but not anything that changes how you were playing up to that point. Finally, while I’m often indifferent to multiplayer modes, the lack of one here feels like a missed opportunity. I assume that either Virtual Air Guitar didn’t have the time or budget to include one, but there’s also the possibility that they wanted to avoid players accidentally punching each other, which is admittedly understandable.
Though Beatsplosion for Kinect certainly has its share of flaws, I still found the experience of playing it to be an enjoyable one that makes the best use of the Kinect I’ve seen in a while. Taking mechanics that would fit in a fitness-themed game and incorporating a rhythmic element turned out to be a good idea, and while it’s a quick ride to wrap up the campaign, the lower price and simple fun it provides still make for a decent experience.
This review is based on the Xbox One exclusive, which was provided to us.