Floor Kids is way too cool for me. A breakdancing game with art and music provided by the talented duo of JonJon and Kid Koala respectively, this title led to me asking many questions. What in the blue hells is a Tuckfreeze? What does ‘Ninjafloat’ mean? And while I had no idea what a ‘nutcracker mills’ is, I felt it best to keep my little gentleman a safe distance from it.”
One other question was on my lips: why, when I’ve no prior interest in breakdancing, am I enjoying this game so very much?
Previously released on Nintendo Switch and PC, Floor Kids is now making its way to PS4 and Xbox One. Unlike many dance-based rhythm action games, Floor Kids doesn’t rely on prescriptive timed button prompts to form its core gameplay mechanic. Instead, the player is left to interpret the track however they wish, utilising each character’s sixteen dance moves – split across four distinctive categories – to rack up points and wow the crowd.
It’s a gloriously liberating system, allowing for genuine improvisation as the player transitions between basic dance steps to performing holds – called freezes – and spins – called power moves. Controller inputs are simple and well designed; the basics are supremely easy to pick-up but there are vast swathes of hidden depths here. That’s particularly true when it comes to linking moves together in a combo, which is vital to achieve high scores.
The distinctive and charming visuals, with their hand sketch aesthetic, are ideally suited in making clear exactly what your character is doing, even if the names of the dance moves that pop-up on screen mean nothing to you. Because the actions are so easy to read, it makes linking combos together an organic process. More often than not the moves that link together well do so both visually and mechanically.
It’s a shame that this sublime system is rather undermined by the chorus of each track. Popping up twice in a track, these off-putting intervals require you to tap the button to the specific beat and then mash said button like a maniac for good measure. It feels unnecessarily restrictive and makes the chorus sections stick out like a sore toe from the rest of the game. Fortunately they don’t factor too heavily into your score; achieving fresh and flavourful freeform dance routines are definitely the best way to achieve top marks.
All of the dancing would be for naught if there weren’t any decent tracks to shake your money maker to. Fortunately DJ Kid Koala delivers on this front. With over forty original tracks there’s a lot of musical content here and, whilst I know little about this style of music, I found myself wobbling my head enthusiastically as my bboy or bgirl launched into another headspin. The fact the Koala is now touring these tracks speaks highly of their quality.
This game burns brightly, but it comes at the cost of brevity. The campaign sees your chosen dancer visiting a variety of venues and once there you’ll gather points to unlock further dancers and additional environments for them to dance at. You’ll probably see your way through to the end in a few hours at most. That’s not to say that mastery will have been achieved – achieving those illusive five crowns for each track will take some doing – but this is still a slight experience. Local multiplayer pads out the package and provides some fun – having the opportunity to shoot fireballs at a far too good foe is always a bonus – but there’s little replayability to it.
How much that matters to you may well be a deciding factor on if you pick up Floor Kids. Yet, whilst this game lasts, it puts a capital F in fun. And a capital U and N as well. There might even be a few exclamation marks and a smiley face at the end for good measure. I know nothing about breakdancing and went into Floor Kids expecting very little, but I spent the entire time with a big stupid grin on my face.
Floor Kids brings freeform fun to the dance rhythm action genre, successfully delivering on a unique gameplay system that provides the player with freedom and the opportunity to improvise. The restrictive chorus sections disappoint and the game is all over rather quickly, but whilst it lasts Floor Kids is definitely a ninja floating nut cracker.
Version Tested: PS4 – also available on Nintendo Switch, PC and Xbox One