I’m no expert on hip hop, but Floor Kids on Switch has a style and rhythm not to be ignored.
I’ve never played a rhythm game like Floor Kids.
The only thing you keep is a rhythm. The only thing you follow is the flow.
Bars of moving notes are used sparingly. Every move you make, every groove you take comes from the spur of the moment, intrinsically from the beats provided by DJ/producer Kid Koala.
The set-up is simple. Eight dancers. Twenty-four tracks. Thousands of points to score. You have sixteen moves at your disposal, four in each category of Top Rock, Down Rock, Power, and Freeze. So long as you tap the corresponding face button to the beat, you’re fly.
The scoring system leaves the choice up to the player. As long as you lay down all 16 of your character’s moves, as long as you hit up a combo here or there, as long as you show you’ve got flavor and fire in equal measure, your dancing will work. Occasional crowd requests and the chorus give you a little more direction, but throwing down a specific move a couple times a song won’t cramp your style, and hitting the chorus is the perfect way to mix up the breakdancing.
A couple of more advanced techniques- such as posing, flipping, and hopping- help you to keep things fresh on the field of funk, and go great lengths in helping you achieve high-scores. I still haven’t figured out how to do a Power Strobe, or what it is, or how many points I’m missing out on, but even without it, I manage make my performances varied.
The single-player is an adventure through the city, with venues from Arcade to Peace Summit for you to bust a move. All twenty-four tracks are featured in sets of three, and unlocking new characters is as easy as scoring well in a venue they’re attending. The ranking system of five stars is lenient- after the initial learning curve, I rarely failed to reach five stars on the first try (though some of the later songs definitely have tougher melodies- I suggest using two hands to hit all the notes), which suits the custom play at work. I could flow however I wanted, however I felt, and not be penalized for it. The leniency of the ranking was the perfect complement to the individual, and though the quick forward progress takes legs out of the single player, I was happy quickly acquiring my tunes.
I have mixed feelings on the multiplayer. Two players dance off. They take turns, sharing the four quarters of the song evenly. To each dancer’s detriment, the shorter time (literally half) you have to find your groove makes it difficult to work with the rhythm. To get off sixteen moves and four combos in such a short amount of time- especially when the other player is firing sick burns at you- is difficult. The freedom of it is lost. My second player and I ended up forgoing to burn mechanic altogether, opting to put out the best dance without cutting into each other’s valuable time to shine. We stopped competing. When we both nailed really difficult, late-song choruses, we cheered. We felt like we were putting on a better performance for the electric crowd. Ultimately, due to the diminished dance time and the lack of draw by the competitive mechanics, we tended to switch off instead of dance off.
Floor Kids is an aesthetic delight. JonJon’s art has an unfinished, sketch-like quality that gives it a unique vibe, and jives with the game’s spunk. In animation, it’s inspiring. Downright groovy. When the crowd’s go wild, you can feel the energy.
The playable characters’ personality comes from tiny notes in your beat deck (a handy collection of all the characters, combos, and moves) and their dancing. There is no dialogue in the story, only an unvoiced narrator who delivers mesmerizing staccato to explore the philosophy of funk. Kid Koala’s music is rapidly engaging, and helps you to flow naturally from one performance to the next. While some choruses weren’t as fun to play, none of the twenty-four tracks were duds. A larger collection of harder choruses would have been appreciated, as part of the fun (especially in multiplayer) is finding and nailing that beat.
It should be noted that even the menus are fun. Every move you make, between characters, between venues, between modes plays a sound, and syncing your menu movement to the beat in the background is music unto itself.
Breakdancing through the story won’t take longer than a few hours. I played it all with my headphones in, volume up, with the Switch in my hands. It’s comfortable on the go, but the Multiplayer battles are best on the television, when both players can dance off with two joy-cons. The simple art also looks splendid on the big screen.
Floor Kids is kinetic in the way moving notes can’t be. As a rhythm game on the go, it excels in exploration of the rhythm of hip hop. That exploration is sacrificed somewhat in the two-player multiplayer, but sharing the game’s delights is hardly hampered by taking turns (at just over two minutes a song, you won’t be waiting long). While it might seem a little pricey for the content at almost 20 bucks, you’re paying for style, and you’re getting it in droves.
Release Date: December 07, 2017
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: MERJ Media
Developer: MERJ Media