Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rhythm Heaven

Rhythm Heaven is the sequel to a Game Boy Advance game that only came out in the DS, which makes some amount of sense because it is a pretty weird series, although putting it onto a touch-based platform is a perfect fit which definitely justifies bringing this one over. It plays out as a series of mini games where the player taps, rubs, and flicks the screen to achieve objectives based on various rhythm-based skills, periodically reaching a checkpoint where they have to put several of these skills together to move on to the next group of games. It's a fun and rewarding system, constantly dangling a carrot in front of you so you have something to work toward. Doing especially well on a game earns medals, which unlock other toys and things to mess with, and achieving a perfect score will grant access to further diversions. And while the games can get frustrating, the game will never lose you because you can opt to skip one if it's proving to be overly difficult. You get penalized a bit for resorting to this, but if you just want to play the other games it's no big deal.

Not including extra gadgets there are 25 different games, and they all feature their own music, specific play mechanic, and unique and often bizarrely humorous premise. You might be clapping in sync with a bunch of monkeys in the audience at a concert, matching a singing moai head's vocals, or flinging eggs into your mouth at a breakneck pace. When the game works it can be transcendent, especially when you get to the harder levels but have something down and can basically do it in your sleep. Unfortunately, not all the games are created equal, and some have a hard time being fun when they're either too demanding in an area your musical mind can't really handle or what they're doing just doesn't make sense for whatever reason. It's just a bit too hit or miss to be a truly great product. On the bright side though, you are free to mostly ignore the things you don't like, but if you're like me you won't want to do that. There's plenty of incentive to always try to improve on how you did last time, and while a lot of the music is pretty goofy, it tends to stick in your head long after you turn off the system. I typically prefer more traditional story-based games, but this was certainly a good time.

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