The distinction between PlayStation and Xbox over the previous generation-plus isn’t simply the amount of exclusives, it’s the standard of them. Microsoft has had valuable few exclusives in any respect, which in and of itself has been a giant downside. However worse, the variety of these which have been not simply good however incredible is embarrassingly small. And that’s why final week’s shock reveal and instant shadow-drop of Tango Gameworks’ rhythm-action recreation Hello-Fi Rush was so big for Xbox. It shocked, it delighted, and it’s a viral hit – and it’s precisely what Xbox wants proper now.
Rhythm-action video games aren’t new. However they’ve additionally by no means actually been “hit” video games. We’ve loved a gentle weight-reduction plan of them over the previous few years, possible from recreation builders who themselves are, like many players, mourning the seemingly everlasting dying of the plastic-instrument style that Guitar Hero and Rock Band pioneered within the late-2000s. And whereas numerous the new-age rhythm-action video games have been good – final 12 months’s Metallic: Hellsinger leaned arduous into its theme and was an extremely enjoyable recreation for doing so – there’s one thing extra approachable and interesting about Hello-Fi Rush. Possibly it’s the literal-cartoon artwork type and its equally cartoonish plot about an adolescent who cuts the road at Vandelay Applied sciences to get his disabled proper arm changed with a functioning robotic limb, solely to finish up getting rockstar powers courtesy of the iPod that will get mistakenly fused to his chest through the automated, factory-like process.
Hello-Fi Rush makes this silly-sounding premise sing although, with humor, liberal use of the whole colour palette (recalling previous Xbox cult classics like Jet Set Radio Future and Sundown Overdrive), and gameplay that rewards combo strikes and particular assaults pulled off to the beat of its unbelievable soundtrack – together with cuts from 9 Inch Nails and The Black Keys – however, crucially, doesn’t penalize you for failing to remain in rhythm. Each second actually exudes pleasure, as even the usually boring bits of the atmosphere bop to the beat as your rockstar avatar Chai snaps his fingers or faucets his foot.
The result’s an immediately lovable recreation that feels contemporary and has taken the gaming group by storm. And Bethesda knew it had one thing particular. Everybody has been speaking about Hello-Fi Rush for the previous week, and deservedly so. It’s additionally the beneficiary of nice timing; the one different important launch across the similar time was the Useless Area remake, which, whereas excellent, is hardly gunning for a similar viewers. Useless Area and Hello-Fi Rush couldn’t be extra reverse in the event that they tried!
Moreover, to be blunt, each Microsoft and the Xbox group wanted this. We thought the cloudy days have been gone without end in 2021, however the darkish skies returned final 12 months, with even Xbox boss Phil Spencer acknowledging the dearth of unique recreation releases over the previous 12 months. Xbox’s no-show at The Recreation Awards in December solely additional examined followers’ persistence. And so, the truth that Microsoft didn’t simply give us launch dates for key first-half-of-the-year exclusives at its current Developer_Direct broadcast but additionally launched a kickass new recreation that very day was a jolt of positivity, enthusiasm, and downright enjoyable that Xbox has been missing in for a lot of the early a part of this new console technology.
So the place are we now as we head into the second month of a essential 12 months for Xbox? Forza Motorsport appears to be pushed to the second half of 2023, and Starfield continues to be one thing of a query mark, release-date-wise, however for the second Xbox followers are eatin’ good because of a joyous, totally-out-of-left-field shock from one of many studios it acquired to resolve its first-party recreation downside. Now should you’ll excuse me, I’ve received some extra evil company bosses to beat down with my robotic guitar arm…
Ryan McCaffrey is IGN’s government editor of previews and host of each IGN’s weekly Xbox present, Podcast Unlocked, in addition to our month-to-month(-ish) interview present, IGN Unfiltered. He is a North Jersey man, so it is “Taylor ham,” not “pork roll.” Debate it with him on Twitter at @DMC_Ryan.