Floor Kids – Xbox One Review
Moving to the rhythm of the streets!
Show what you do, make a break make a move, B-Boys, breakers, electric boogaloo. Having been a big fan of Guitar Hero and Rock Band in my gaming past, I enjoy a good rhythm based game. The releases of the last couple of years have taken the genre off on a bit of a tangent, putting the emphasis on controlling spacecraft in smooth scrolling environments. Refreshingly, Floor Kids, developed by Merj Media, brings us back to a purer mechanic and puts the music front and centre while combining it with some cool dance action.
Just like making your own Rock Steady Crew (look it up kids), you need to build up your squad of dancers by unlocking them at various locations around the city. This ain’t no disco, we start in the recording studio and as you complete tracks, more locations open up for you around the city for you to show your skills. Bust your moves at locations such as the grocery store, the art space or the local metro station. There are three tracks based at each location, and getting a three star score on each one will gain you a card for unlocking a new character. Once you have all four cards for that character, they unlock and you can use them in the game.
There is a Tutorial mode where you get taken through the moves, and an Infinity mode where you can practise with no time limit, but the basics are refreshingly easy to pick up. There are 16 moves to find for each character, split into 4 categories: Toprock (standing moves), Downrock (floor moves), and Freezes, whose 4 moves are activated by hitting one of the face buttons, and the Power moves which are the spectacular spins, that you control by rotating the left stick in different ways. Once you unlock all 16 moves, each character has special combos for you to string together for a nice bonus on your score. Just hit the buttons to the beat of the tune to keep the moves going, and twice in each song theres a chorus section where you have to hit a button to match the tune. On the earlier levels this is nice and easy as its mainly on the beat, but as you progress, more sequences become more intricate.
There is a decent amount of replay value for each track as you strive to get a five star score. Your score is broken down into categories of flavour, funk, flow, fire and flyness, so its not just enough to nail a few moves, but you need to get some good combos, react to audience suggestions to hit the right move in time, as well as nailing the beats on the tricky chorus sections. This all round combination of elements will have you scoring big and gaining a reputation as a skilled dancer.
The difficulty curve moves up nicely as you move to each new location and the bespoke 90s style hip hop and drum’n’base tunes created for the game by Kid Koala fit in well with the progression of the game play. Another aspect to bringing the theme together is the styling of the graphics. The basic cartoon style is superbly animated and coloured to focus the attention on the dance action, and the storyboard cut scenes give a bit of depth to the storyline with humour and a touch of the surreal. The hand drawn animation plays smoothly, is very responsive to the controls and works well with the music to link all the moves together seamlessly.
The main criticism of Floor Kids I have is that it’s a bit of a one trick pony. With a story mode lasting about 4-5 hours, you don’t really get much game play for the price you pay, and its only thanks to the different music tracks you can choose is what stops the game becoming a bit of a grind after about an hour of play. There is a multiplayer mode as well however which is a hell of a lot of fun for a bit of offline competitive play. You and your opponent pick a character each and pit your skills against each other in a dance battle. There are all the usual moves with the added extras of burns, to put your opponent off their flow, and blocks, which will deflect the burn.
For those chasing gamerscore, its pretty easy to pick up achievements on a regular basis, just perform the 16 moves for each character for the award to pop every time. Getting the full 1000 gamerscore is a lot more difficult however as it’ll take quite a few attempts and a lot of skill to get a five star score for every track in the game.
Its obvious within a short time of playing Floor Kids that a lot of love has been put into the production of this game, with characters that show different personalities through their dance moves in a stylish comic book world. The gameplay is easy to pick up with a good progression but ultimately lacks the real depth to justify the price. More variations in mode and additions to the game would be welcome for Floor Kids to meet its undoubted potential as a great example of the genre.
Developer: Merj Media
Publisher: Merj Media
Huge Thanks to Merj Media for the review copy