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KickBeat
PC/Steam Review

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The Good

I would recommend this game just because it's well made & has a good selection of music. The game is also a challenge; while I can't say I'm huge on extreme challenges, some people may enjoy the game for this. The cutscene kill screens are always a joy also.

The Bad

I can't say much for the movies in the game. The game is using a sort of slideshow animation for the movies with hand-painted art; there is some humor in there however, this would be one example (spoiler warning). The game is obviously an XBOX port as controller support appears to be limited to just the XBOX controllers.

There's also a rebinding bug where rebinding the keys doesn't specifically unbind the original button. Let's say you try to rebind an arrow key to a power-up option; what happens is when you press the button to use the power-up, you inadvertently attack in the direction that that button was originally assigned to, causing a miss & break in your combo. I was literally only using power-ups after getting hit when I realized this was happening & how important combos were to gaining a high score until I finally decided to change the controls from what I would have rather used to something else because Zen wouldn't even respond to the bug thread about it.

One other thing to mention is that any recording/broadcasting software that may be capturing video from the game is going to break the ability to use Steam Overlay functions; even Steam Broadcasting is going to break your ability to call up Steam Overlay functions. It might be better to use other software you can disable by using a hotkey (something that Steam broadcasting doesn't support yet), so you can stop the recording/broadcasting using that hotkey to be able to use the Steam Overlay, otherwise you're only option is to alt+tab out of the game to access functions you would have normally used through the Steam overlay... The downside to using other software to broadcast however is that you can't stream to Steam this way & many other services will mute the video, which makes it pretty much pointless in even doing it beyond the initial stream; YouTube will literally end your broadcast prematurely & flag your account with a violation (I know this from experience because it's happened to me before & it takes some time to clear up...if they even accept your appeal), so you're taking a BIG risk even streaming gameplay to YouTube PERIOD...which makes it ironic they even have a gaming channel on YouTube...

The Ugly

The game does not have proper beat detection for imported music. If you're looking to get this game because it claims importation of your own music (which was my reason for purchasing it), don't make the same mistake I did. The game makes you specify the BPM (beat per minute) as well a beat start point. It does come with a tool to help you calculate it, but it's purely you hitting a button listening to the first 15 seconds of the song & it doesn't adjust for beat changes in the song. Furthermore, the import tool has a cutoff at 6 minutes, so anything longer gets cut off & you don't get the remainder of the song. So really all your getting is a fight based off of your own specifications that you can fight to your choice of music, I can't see that fights are generated from the song itself whatsoever. I did try some random variables once, but the attacking enemies didn't match up with the song at all. A video of how this works can be found here.

Another matter of concern is the leaderboards to show your progress.  While it was a good idea for a game with online capabilities, it was poorly implemented & left open to easily being manipulated to gain the top position simply by changing values in the game's configuration files (seeing as scores are saved in progress files & can be edited without corrupting the file).  Unfortunately people found that they could edit these scores & it would effect their scores in Steam's online leaderboards, therefore only those that were providing false values on their scores would ever be able to get higher & there's a good number of values in the leaderboards that are blatantly obvious they were falsified only to put themselves at the top of the leaderboards.  The developers unfortunately have done nothing to rectify the issue, so the leaderboards don't mean much when you have people hacking their scores to be at the top, so the leaderboards function should probably be ignored & not taken into consideration as to whether you should purchase the game or not (if anything, a reason NOT to purchase the game).  The developers could have done something to prevent this type of manipulation, like determining what the max score for a level is & any scores over that would be negated from individual stage leaderboards (if not the leaderboards entirely).  While I understand this is pretty well impossible to do in Survival mode, it's obvious that there hasn't been any attempt to correct what people with ill intent have succeeded in doing because these checks were not put into place, so leaderboards in the Steam version of KickBeat should be ignored if you intend on getting the game, they have been compromised & can't be trusted otherwise...

UPDATE: I have been discussing the lack of beat detection & auto-generation with an ex-employee of Zen which ended up turning into a rather ugly situation because they wanted to take the short route & say proper beat detection wasn't possible. A thread of this conversation can be found here.


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