Thank you so much to Ichigoichie for providing a review code
The Nintendo Switch library is no stranger to a fantastic selection of rhythm games. The console’s portable nature with its touch screen makes it the perfect console for these games to prosper. Before the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo consoles and handhelds were always known for having one or two major rhythm titles. Elite Beat Agents on the DS was the handheld’s most memorable rhythm title and has really developed a reputation for itself over the years. Now the developers are taking a shot at the genre once again with the release of Hexagroove Tactical DJ. Does it live up to Elite Beat Agents legacy or is this a fall from glory for the renown developers? Let’s find out
As far as the story goes Hexagroove doesn’t offer much of a narrative experience. You’re a DJ and you’re humble beginnings start with playing small shows and you quickly move up the ranks to playing bigger and more demanding gigs.
Hexagroove Tactical DJ is a rhythm game mixed with some elements of strategy. The game begins on a map where you can select and play the different gigs you’ve unlocked. The more you complete the more that will come available on the map.
Each new level is displayed as a new location and also a new style of music. So you’ll get the chance to play around with techno music, while also playing around with some hip-hopbeats.
Talking about Hexagroove’s gameplay is interesting because of its very versatile gameplay style. Unlike many rhythm games where the core mechanic revolves around one particular action Hexagroove has you switching between many different actions. I mean you’re a DJ so it only makes sense that you would work with many different beats.
At the beginning of every song, you’ll start out with a loop of beats at your disposal. Here you can cycle through your beats and switch them on and off. At first, each beat will be the color blue, but after playing for a while they will turn green. The green color means the beats getting stale, so you’ll have to go to that beat and press a different button to change the beat. Every time you change one that has turned green it will revert to its blue color and the audience will get excited. This section here is the main part of the gameplay and you’ll be sent back here often to manage your different beats.
The next step occurs as a transition to the next set of looping beats. Here you’ll play two types of minigames, a Guitar Hero style tap the beat game and a ride the beat follow the line minigame. The first one mentioned is exactly like doing a small Guitar Hero solo where you’ll switch between pressing two buttons at the right time to hit the beat. The other sees you moving along a line and positioning your marker so that it follows the line and doesn’t go over it. These minigames are nice little ways to break up the pace and keep every new level fresh. The better you perform on these minigames the better grade you’ll get which tally’s up at the end.
Finally, at the end of every song, you’ll finish the song with one last follow the line minigame. When the song finishes you’ll be marked on a scale of 1-10 on 5 different categories, Freshness, Flow, Drama, Rhythm and Control. After tallying up your results you’ll receive one final letter grade on the level and then move on to the next.
As you continue playing different gigs and getting better scores you can also unlock new abilities that will help better your playstyle while in-game. For example, towards the beginning of the game, you’ll unlock loop attributes that can be used to change around your type of loop to generate different benefits. If you need to look into any of the game’s details there’s thankfully a how to play menu that will refresh your memory.
After you finish the campaign you have a few extra gameplay options. Firstly, you can redo the campaign on the “Medium” difficulty which really spikes up the difficulty of the game and I would recommend waiting until you feel like you’ve got a good grip on the game before starting this. You can also practice the game in the Freestyle mode or play locally with friends in Entourage mode. These are nice options that help give the game some more replayability.
My only issues with Hexagroove’s gameplay come from the length of its campaign and just how niche of a game it is. The campaign will most likely only take you an hour or two to finish and if you’re not interested in replaying on a higher difficulty or for a better rank then you may not be satisfied with such a short campaign. Furthermore, Hexagroove is a very niche game and while the rhythm genre as a whole is, this game in particular really hits home with it. A specific group of people will really enjoy this, but it’s not for everyone.
Hexagroove has a fantastic colorful design and palette that really makes each level stand out. The game’s visual style is a mix of different designs that do well to represent the feeling of playing a show. With the tools and different instruments, you’re given there’s a large variety of different music you can create. For the more creative players out there, you’ll likely find some fun to be had with Hexagroove.
During my time with Hexagroove, I can happily report I experienced no technical issues.
While it’s short campaign and appeal to a small demographic may stop some players from picking this up, this is absolutely worth it for fans of the rhythm genre. It has an interesting gameplay loop that’s challenging and unique, which isn’t always easy to come by. If you’ve dreamed of being a DJ and want to try it out in the virtual world, then you should really pick this one up.