Floor Kids is a pretty bold and cool idea of a game but

Guest post - Sam Harkin

Floor Kids is a music game from MERJ Media released on December 7 for the Nintendo Switch. Read more about the game in this review.

On the topic of the music game genre

I have to say, it really feels like the music genre has taken an interesting turn in the past few months. Generally, the music game genre tends to simply test the player’s technical abilities. Maintain a rhythm, Co-ordinate your moves, Hold this note. But consider the recent release of Dropmix, a game that is built on mashing up all kinds of music from country to dubstep.

The door really feels open to doing some interesting new things in the genre. There’s an interesting parallel here between Dropmix and Floor Kids. Both subvert the expectations set by other music games, seeking other methods of challenge. Unfortunately, not unlike Dropmix, longevity is a bit of a caveat.

What is Floor Kids?

The best soundbite description of Floor Kids is “It’s like Tony Hawk Pro Skater meets a rhythm game”. Each breakdance move is separated into the appropriate category with different mechanics.

Toprock and downrock moves are your bread and butter moves. Keep pressing your moves button to the beat to maintain the move, keep bringing in the points. Power moves are the classic flashy spins and flares, controlled by circling one of the joysticks. These are a bit more risk-reward based, with longer power moves increasing your points for the move, but also increasing the chance of falling, and breaking a combo. Freezes, which involve freezing in a difficult position, operate the same, but with button holds.

Floor Kids screenshot

However, the interesting part of the gameplay is seeing how the challenge has been moved around in-game. With the relative simplicity of the main gameplay, Floor Kids adds in some challenges elsewhere. First and foremost are the two minigame-filled chorus sections. Two bars of tapping to the rhythm, two bars of mashing buttons, repeat. Second are all the bonus points for the main gameplay. Players have to vary their moves, follow the requests of the crowd and used advanced moves to maximise your score.

Combos in Floor Kids

Really though, we have to talk about combos. It’s pretty sound when you think about it; certain moves are suited to hook up together. A head-spin is a pretty good move to be doing before you do a handstand style freeze, for example. When you are doing a move, the game may prompt you with the next move in a combo. Link a few of them together and you get a big old combo bonus, at the end. Simply put, a nice little way to add a little challenge for those high rollers, angling for 5 stars. It even explains why certain moves take so long if not set up by previous moves.

Floor Kids screenshot

Drawbacks with the combo system

But, it ain’t all perfect. A bit of a drawback is the game doesn’t do a great job of explaining this system. It took me a while to stumble onto a combo, even with prompts, which I originally thought were glitches, guiding the way. Even knowing the system, and replaying the tutorial, the only mention of this system is a vague “find combos” suggestion. Yeah sure, it made sense later when I knew what they were on about. No, it didn’t undo the time spent on attempting to combo by getting better at tapping to the rhythm or only freezing after a power move. Just seems like a rather big part of the game for the player to stumble into.

Presentation is also a big plus for this game. The Kid Koala soundtrack provides a nice range of tunes to break it down to. Electro, Funk, Jazz, there is definitely something for everyone. The visuals are lovely here too. Its sketchy looks half drafted, like a hastily mapped out tag, and fits this kind of vibe. It’s all cool, it’s all chill–just crews hanging out and practising their skills.

Floor Kids screenshot

The caveat

However, it’s time to talk about that caveat: longevity. Simply put, Floor Kids was a surprisingly brief affair. Let’s do the math. Each song is 2 minutes long, Each Stage has 3 songs, and there are 8 stages.

This means ignoring cutscenes, and retries, you can literally finish this game in under an hour. Now, yes this is a bit of a straw man, you can totally mess up and have to retry, or grind to unlock characters and moves and stuff. But the fact remains this game is a bit anaemic to put it bluntly. Even the Menu screen is skeletal: “Story” “Multiplayer” and “Options”. Elements of the game exacerbate these issues. The songs, as lovely as they are, are essentially identical gameplay wise, with the chorus rhythm being the only discrepancy.

Ultimately, I hope the developer does well with this fantastic game. But with the content being what it is and the price being what it is, I think it’s fair enough if people get scared off.

Final thoughts

Floor Kids is a pretty bold and cool idea of a game. It’s pushing to make music games more about expression and interaction with music. Not to mention, it’s a pretty cool idea that makes the most of the challenges it faces and makes for a pretty cool game. Also, it’s great for the genre I feel.

But, standing on its own, the issues regarding longevity and overall value make it easy to recommend playing but a little harder to recommend buying.

Watch the Floor Kids trailer

Images: MERJ Media

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