[wrapping up one more review from last year before i post my end-of-year list …]
i don’t remember where i first heard about rhythm tengoku (for GBA), but i’m guessing it was soon after i started getting into the warioware series a couple of years ago. this was before its DS sequel, rhythm heaven, a.k.a. rhythm tengoku gold, was released, but both games were created by Nintendo SPD who co-developed the warioware games. fans of that better-known series will definitely fall for its sister series as much as i did.
like the warioware games, rhythm tengoku combines a wide range of wacky art styles and situations (tap-dancing monkeys! lady rappers!), and most notably, music, in a series of mini-games, in this case all rhythm based. the R and L buttons aren’t used in the main game, and many games only require a single button, but the gameplay can get quite tricky. chris kohler has a good description of the sequel’s gameplay which is exactly the same as the original (as is nintendo’s oftentimes maddening custom). in short, both games provide a refreshing take on the rhythm genre as everything is centered on feeling the pulse of the music as opposed to hitting complicated button patterns in sequence. the structure is also very cleverly arranged in that the games/songs are grouped somewhat thematically, and at the end of each group is a “remix” track that combines all the music and gameplay from that group. also, like the warioware series the games include little unlockable diversions in the form of toys and mini-games, as well as stories and a music player. for those wary of importing the original GBA game, although it’s all in japanese, for the most part everything is easy to follow and self-explanatory, although having played a bit of the english version of its sequel i realize more how much of the humor i was missing out on. (you can find a basic translation for the menus here.)
the only design choice of the series that seems questionable to me is that you can earn a medal if you perform well on a song, but to earn the highest rating you have to be absolutely perfect and not make any mistakes. in general i’m against “perfection” in gaming as it ends up making a game much less fun, but in this case since the songs are so short getting a perfect on all of them, while certainly requiring a fair amount of effort, wouldn’t be crazily impossible. all in all, despite the language barrier and the emphasis on perfection, this is a great game and a lot of fun, and it’s an easy recommendation. as semi-regular visitors to my blog might expect, i’ve already played through the sequel a fair amount. even though it is a sequel from a company notorious for not tinkering with well-established formulas, it all feels a bit too same-y to me, and the humor and scenarios don’t seem quite as crazy and off-the-wall as the original. i’ll prob. finish playing through that game sooner than later, though, so there’s still a chance i’ll end up being pleasantly surprised. we’ll see.
for now, feel the b-b-b-beat of some r-r-r-rhythmic links!
– i linked to this already, but it’s worth linking again: this is a handy site with translations of the menus and a guide to every song
– entry at wikipedia
– youtube video of an early favorite from the game
– an exhaustive survey of the man behind the music, tsunku