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Today we had the pleasure of interviewing the lovely Bobby from Zen Studios about their upcoming release for the PS3 & Vita - Kickbeat.

So Bobby in a nutshell what is Kickbeat?

KickBeat is an experimental kung fu rhythm game developed for PS3 and Vita.

What were some of the reasons and influences behind the decision to make a music based rhythm action game?

Our creative director, Neil Sorens, loved classic rhythm games like Frequency, DDR, Guitar Hero, etc. And after he worked on an abortive project based on the Kung Faux TV show, which added hip-hop stylings and overdubs to classic kung fu flicks, it just clicked. The rhythmic nature of kung fu choreography was a perfect fit with beat-matching mechanics and the violent, kinetic, beat-centric feel of certain types of hip-hop. In the end, we drew from capoeira and thai boxing, not just kung fu, and we included all kinds of loud, aggressive music. But the core idea stayed intact.

The genre of music games seems to have become stagnant over the last few years is Kickbeat about to revolutionise the genre?

It will open people’s eyes to new possibilities for example, playing the action in a beat-matching rhythm game instead of just an abstract interface on top of it. Whether that leads to a new crop of games doing the same thing, I don’t really know. But it definitely was fun to make a game and tackle all these technical and design challenges that no one ever has before.

As for the music how did you go about selecting which tracks would be included in the game?

It was an arduous year-plus process of going through every music service out there, listening to tracks, watching movies to find music that went well with fight scenes, going to publishers and artists for their approval, crossing songs off our list that didn’t get approved, finding new ones, you don’t see a lot of small digital titles with licensed mainstream music unless it’s pay-per-track (like Tap Tap Revenge), and this whole process is why. We’re lucky development took so long because we needed most of the time for licensing anyway.

And I understand players will be able to use their own tracks, is there any restriction to this?

There’s a length limit of 6:00, and you’ll only be able to use songs in MP3 format. Songs with a consistent tempo work best.

With the Vita version of the game are we looking at touch or button controls or a combination of both?

Both are available, but left hand on the directional buttons and right hand on the face buttons works best. The buttons have better feedback and ergonomics, and you won’t be covering your screen and leaving fingerprints on it. But if you must touch that beautiful OLED screen, then you can do that, too.

The game was originally planned as a Vita exclusive but is now coming to PS3 as well, was this due to fan demand?

Yes, we had very good response to doing Cross Buy with Zen Pinball 2 and Star Wars Pinball on PS3/Vita, and it made sense to do the same thing with KickBeat.

And so are there any plans for a 360, Steam or Wii U version or indeed either of the next gen systems?

We’re just waiting to see how people respond. It could be a success that we build on, or it could be a flop and we decide to make f2p Lucky Zen Slots for middle-aged housewives on Facebook. You never know with a game like this.

Kickbeat is released in Europe on September 11th on PS3 & Vita via the Playstation Store. (Out now in USA).

For more on Kickbeat visit www.kickbeat.com or www.zenstudios.com
And be sure and stay tuned for Andy’s review if the game coming next week!