Music/rhythm games are a welcome way for fans to really show their appreciation for a particular style of tunes, whether it’s warbling along to “Hooked On a Feeling” in Rock Band 4 (which I haven’t been doing all week, really) or dancing like Michael Flatley (remember him?) on crack to Dance Dance Revolution. But up until this point, games of this nature have required a certain level of skill to be any good at. Not that you couldn’t have fun with them, mind you, but a minimal amount of effort was required to even keep the song going.
But Floor Kids is a bit different. Produced by Montreal’s own JonJon and Kid Koala, the game works more on an ebb and flow system, as you take a set of kids and let loose with the kind of breakdancing we haven’t seen since Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. And it’s just the thing that the Nintendo Switch needed, especially for players that can’t get into the rhythm of Just Dance or the ferocious tapping beats of Superbeat: Xonic. It works on its own level, and may be just the thing to get fans into the genre for the first time.
The game doesn’t require you to follow a certain style of gameplay, as it works more on creativity than it does following along with a certain beat. You take your character and perform a number of moves on the dance floor, whether by standing or getting on the floor (probably the motivation behind the title Floor Kids). How you mix it up will help boost your score. Sure, you could try to get away with doing the same thing over and over, but the game motivates you to try new things and really open up the sense of play that it’s offering.
For instance, experimenting with moves in both standing and crouching, and using a number of combinations, could result in new techniques being discovered, really opening up your “breaking” move set. And there are some moves that require some skill to pull off, like popping and locking (is that the term?) in a position for a few seconds without falling over and looking like a doofus, or spinning to the point that you drum up the points, but don’t make yourself too dizzy.
There are sections where you’ll have to time button presses – mainly in the chorus – but they aren’t difficult in the least, and help keep the flow of the song going. The fact these are thrown into the mix help keep the game from keeping in a single direction, while at the same time staying true to the tropes we’ve come to expect from the music/rhythm genre. They’re fun.
You can also answer fan requests that are thrown out there, and if you manage to pull them off successfully, you’ll earn even more points for your performance. It can get really competitive in the later rounds as well, but never to the point of impossible, like those hard-level Dance Dance Revolution games that require your legs to practically become linguini. Nope, not happening – my knees will never forgive me. It all ties into an innovative scoring technique that’s more about finding a creative flow than it is hitting all the right notes.
As you make progress in the game’s main story mode, you’ll earn crowns and unlock more areas in which to throw out your breakdancing challenges, such as an arcade and even a grocery store (because jamming in front of watermelons is a thing, I suppose). The more you score, the more you’ll eventually unlock, including new characters that add a fresh mix each time around, as you get to see new moves in action.
There’s also a two player local dance battle mode, in which you can see who’s a master of the floor. You can even share the action on single Joy-Cons if you prefer, though obviously you’re better off with a Pro Controller alongside the main one. This is an irresistible mode as well, building up a great deal of energy, even if all you do is tap a few buttons. It’s good fun, especially if you’ve got a buddy that’s into Breakin’ as much as you are.
Floor Kids also looks like it’s a lot of fun. The unique, hand-drawn art style, put together by JonJon, is unbeatable, as you get to see these kids break down a classy set of moves, while a crowd of their peers watch along. While it’s not as lively as, say, the moving backgrounds of Dance Dance, it works in its own special way, making the game feel more comfortable when it comes to getting members of the community around. The backgrounds look great as well, and the city appears to be rife with a ton of locations to “get down” in.
Also, the music. Kid Koala puts together a wonderful mix of dance tunes that are well worth grooving to, with a bunch of instrumental pieces you’ll instantly become addicted to. While some players may prefer licensed tracks to be thrown into the mix, I feel that the vibe that the indie team was going for has been perfectly captured. I like it just the way it is, no need to clutter it.
If you’re looking for a more traditional music/rhythm experience, Superbeat: Xonic may be more of your speed with its button presses. But it never hurts to go a little off-track and see what other great games like Floor Kids has to offer. It’s sheer addiction when it comes to mixing up your best dance techniques, and its gameplay is both comfortable and innovative, something players of all skill levels will certainly welcome. It’s got one of the best local multiplayer experiences of the year, and its presentation, particularly its soundtrack, can’t be beat.
When it comes to finding your own vibe and dancing the night away, the Kids are all right.
RATING: Four out of five stars.
Disclaimer: A review code was provided by the publisher.