Monday, June 8, 2009

Review: Rhythm Heaven for Nintendo DS

When I was at Forest Hill last Thursday, purchased a new game by Nintendo for the DS: Rhythm Heaven (also known as Rhythm Tengoku in Japan):

I read a bit about this game from the previews in both Ultimate Nintendo Magazine and Official Nintendo Magazine, but while the premise seemed pretty keen and kooky, I didn't think it was something that I'd be spending my money on.

As one might already guess from the title "Rhythm Heaven", this game is a rhythm/music-type game where one had to coordinate one's actions with the stylus to the beat prompts on the screen. Think games like any of the Dance Dance Revolution games in arcades, the Guitar Hero line of games, Samba de Amigo on the Wii and one of my personal favourites, Elite Beat Agents on the DS.

I've been a huge fan of Elite Beat Agents ever since Dean introduced me to the game not long after I first purchased my DS Lite in 2007. There was something so unbelievable "attractive" about three Men-In-Black-esque secret agents using dance to solve mundane problems and eventually, save the world. The premise of the game might have been kooky, but the game played brilliantly!

After all, what other game would you be able to use your stylus to tap in time with the rhythmic beats of such classics like The Rolling Stones' "Jumpin' Jack Flash", Earth, Wind and Fire's "September" and perhaps the most overplayed track of all in the game (at least by Aeris), The Village People's "YMCA"?

Ok, sure those tracks weren't the originals by the original groups/singers, and were just covers, but they were covers that were done pretty well! And who cares if the music wasn't's the gameplay that matters! And Elite Beat Agents worked just brilliantly; to this day, I'm still aching to play the Japanese equivalent (and precursor to the English version of Elite Beat Agents): Ouendan!

So, a game like Rhythm Heaven, which was similar to Elite Beat Agents in so many ways...surely I would be purchasing this game right? Nah.

For one, I thought it would be just another run-of-the-mill rhythm game and wouldn't have anywhere close to the charm of Elite Beat Agents. Sure, it had more than just tap-tap-tapping, including flicking the stylus and "reverse-tapping", where you keep the stylus on the screen and pull it upwards to "hit" a beat, but surely that wouldn't be enough variation for me!

So I wasn't going to get the game. That is, until, I saw the TV advertisements for the game.

In fact, see for yourself!

This was the ad that convinced me the game would be fun enough to purchase! Add to the fact that someone from Ecogamer had found a pretty cheap release price of $34.95 at Target (most places had the game for sale at $44 which is a pretty good price already), so I was sold on the game!

So what's so good about the game? Well, it's fun. Really fun. I mean REALLY REALLY fun. It would seem like filling up robots with oil or returning ping pong balls and even being a "groupie" at a Japanese concert would be too weird for a game, but somehow, Nintendo have made Rhythm Heaven one of the hottest selling games ever with its simple but addictive mini-rhythm games!

Just the first game alone, while simple, hooked me onto the game. Called "Built to Scale", it involved you flicking the stylus when it reached the "So" portion of Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So. The next game, "Glee Club" is easily my favourite game so far. You're the third singer in a trio of singers and your mouth remains open...until the stylus touches the screen, which closes your singer's mouth. Cue a jazz song and you need to "sing" in time to the beat! If you don't, the two other singers in the trio give you the stink-eye.

I'm a bit iffy on the third game, "Fillbots", where you fill up a couple of robots on an assembly line with oil/fuel, but I really like "Fan Club", the fourth game, where you're a monkey groupie that needs to gee up the crowd by clapping your hands (by tapping the stylus) and basically making a monkey of yourself...which is quite appropriate because the groupies are all monkeys!

And then there's the 1st remix, which is a combination of the first four games, mixed up with a nice beat. I've only played the first six games, but already I'm having heaps of fun, and I think I'll be bringing this game with me when I go for a short holiday in Perth!

Incidentally, while on the topic, that means I'll probably get to visit the two fantastic Perth comic shops too. Just a quick aside and back to the review.

This game is too fun not to have. And at the cheap introductory price of $34.95 at Target (or $44 which is still pretty good, if the Target offer expires), you can find out why it's selling so well and why there's so much hype in Japan about this game! And you might as well get a nice 150 Club Nintendo points when you register this game with your Club Nintendo account.

So to leave you, just another Rhythm Heaven ad featuring Beyonce playing my favourite mini-game so far: Glee Club!

Built to Scale

Glee Club

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