This past weekend, Konami held the location tests for beatmania IIDX 28 BISTROVER and SOUND VOLTEX EXCEED GEAR at Silk Hat DICE in Kawasaki, Japan. We attended the location test on Friday and Saturday and got the chance to get down and dirty with the new versions of both games, but I want to talk a little bit about SOUND VOLTEX EXCEED GEAR, the sixth version of SOUND VOLTEX, complete with a new machine dubbed the ‘Valkryie Model’ which in its own right has its own amount of new changes to discuss. So let’s get into our impressions of SOUND VOLTEX EXCEED GEAR and its Valkryie Model machine.
Until now, SOUND VOLTEX has been using the same machine that has been around since the game’s inception in 2012, albeit the machine has had some internal hardware changes since its first release, the hardware, for the most part, has remained primarily the same. The Valkryie Model machine is a whole new beast with a large number of changes to the hardware. The first thing you’ll likely notice is the larger monitor which runs at a buttery smooth 120hz. Just under the new main monitor is a touch panel sub-monitor which you will utilize for a number of really intuitive features such as searching for songs, setting options for your blasters as well as moving the positioning of your judgment as well as setting your gauge options. Another thing to mention is that the screen goes a little bit under the control panel which really gives you the feeling that you’re part of the NEMSYS Console directly as the new monitor gives a pseudo-3D effect like you’re part of the game itself. It’s really neat and you have to experience it for yourself to fully understand what I’m saying by this.
Secondly, the sound system on the machine has been completely revamped adding a number of speakers to the machine as well as a brand new subwoofer which really adds a depth of immersion into the music pumping through the speakers. There are a total of 5 speakers on the machine, two speakers up top, two at the hand level pointed towards the player, and a subwoofer placed at the bottom center of the machine. It really can’t be expressed in words just how amazing this machine sounds.
Lastly, the Valkryie Model machine has received a total lighting overhaul which is represented in the V-shaped panels which extend from the sides of the machine down to the bottom-center. The lighting effects are really neat and showcase some of the full RGB capabilities of the machine.
SOUND VOLTEX as a game has pretty much remained the same as its initial release back in 2012 with some new gimmicks and modes implemented along the way. Even on SOUND VOLTEX EXCEED GEAR, this primarily remains unchanged and the concept of the game remains the same, however, there are a few changes that are worth noting that we noticed from the location test that I would like to go over. The first being in correlation to the 120hz screen that was introduced on the Valkryie Model. The game runs so incredibly smooth. It really is like playing a completely new game.
The larger screen makes the notes easier to see and the smoothness of the game makes it infinitely easier to read the analog knob blaster lanes. Don’t get me wrong, it took me a couple of games to get used to how smooth the game is, but once you get used to it, there is no going back. Color me spoiled already.
Furthermore, there is a couple of quality of life changes, the biggest being the ability to search for songs by not only song name, but artist name as well via the touch screen sub-monitor in front of the control panel. The operation of the panel is nearly identical as the sub-monitor on the beatmania IIDX Lightning Model cabinets that have been in the wild since last December. The 10-key is displayed on the sub-monitor as well for inputting your eAmusement Pass password.
The next major change is the coloring of the FX-L and FX-R notes in-game. Previously they were orange for normal notes and yellow for special notes. Now the normal notes are red, making them so much easier to see, where the special notes and hold notes are orange. Definitely one of my favorite features of this version.
Lastly, this is something that I noticed on my plays but didn’t notice initially, as with previous versions of the game, there is an Early and Late indicator for when you hit your notes, but in SOUND VOLTEX EXCEED GEAR, the Early and Late are still there, but a millisecond rating is also present so you can see just how far off of that frame you were early or late on, helping you achieve higher scores in the game, also if you choose EXCEED START, the EX Score similar to that in beatmania IIDX will be displayed above your total score.
On Sunday, Konami had the location test set up specifically to demo off the new Megamix Battle feature which is a mode where players will each choose 5 songs and will be issued award stars by winning battles. Each of the songs are mixed together similar to how SOUND VOLTEX VIVID WAVE has its megamix mode set up. Unfortunately, we could not be present at the location test on Sunday to give you more of an impression on the new mode and what it entails.
The SOUND VOLTEX series has always had an interesting song selection as the majority of songs that are in the game are contributed primarily by the community through the SOUND VOLTEX FLOOR competitions. That concept remains tried and true with SOUND VOLTEX EXCEED GEAR but trust me when I say there is definitely a couple of surprises to be found. The first is the inclusion of SHIKI’s legendary song Air. I’m not going to go into details as to why this is a huge surprise, but if you know the history stemming from that song, you too will know that it’s a huge surprise that it’s included in the game.
As the location test only had a total of 7 new songs implemented in the game, I don’t have a huge amount that I can say about the tracklist as it kind of covers all genres, but the main song that stood out to me has to be Destr0yer by 削除 feat. Nikki Simmons. The track matches Nikki’s vocals superbly and I am really happy to see her included in the game. Another song that stood out to me is Bad Elixir by xi. It’s got the sound that xi has come to be known for with a bit of a classical touch to it.
So When Can You Play It?
SOUND VOLTEX EXCEED GEAR is still in its infancy thus no release date has been provided yet, but I would be remiss to say that you should expect to see it sooner rather than later. With that being said, there is absolutely no timeframe given as to when this would be, but we’re excited for when it does hit game centers.
All in all, we had a great time getting to spend some time with the new version of SOUND VOLTEX and its new home, the Valkryie Model machine. We look forward to its release and seeing what other treats are contained within the game once it has its proper release.