nintendolife.com has been a great resource since i first came across it, esp. for downloadable games that tend to get short shrift in other publications. i’ve been giving more attention to DSiware games lately, and nintendolife had given maestro! green groove an unusually high score so i thought i’d check it out. rather than download the truncated DSiware version, though, i opted for importing a copy of the original, only-released-in-europe DS version, entitled maestro! jump in music, since it looked like a rhythm game that i would enjoy spending some time with (FYI, i snagged a cart-only copy for less than $10 on ebay but i may have just gotten lucky).
the game is part of a growing sub-genre of rhythm games that match auto-scrolling platforming actions such as jumping and attacking enemies to a musical accompaniment. the game’s main control is novel: you steer the pink bird presto by plucking the string he’s running along up or down; stroking downwards moves him down a string, and stroking upwards makes him jump. the retail game is still fairly short: each of the 6 worlds is divided into three standard levels and a boss level. each world introduces a new mechanic (many of which, such as the circular spinning motions and tapping when circles overlap, will be familiar to fans of the elite beat agents (aka ouendan) games). the majority of the tracks are classical tunes in fairly decent and pleasant-enough MIDI arrangements, and similarly the graphics are cartoony and serviceable despite being fairly simple. the game requires you to beat all of the levels on easy before unlocking the normal and hard difficulties, but the levels are shorter than on the harder difficulties so the easy mode goes by quickly and gives you a chance to master the game’s mechanics. (the harder modes also let you sing along to jump instead of swiping, which is a mildly entertaining if not particularly practical gimmick.) the game’s biggest weakness is the boss battles. in these levels the game switches to a very basic “simon says”-type of gameplay that drags on and don’t add anything new to the genre let alone this experience.
although i enjoyed the game enough to play through the easy and normal levels, i hesitate to recommend the DSiware version since for $5 it only includes the first world (three levels + a boss fight) and replaces one of the best songs of the game, “our house”, with another classical tune (by chopin). if you’re not able to get a copy of the original or if you want to try a bite-sized chunk before committing to the full release this should be a good alternative, but i’m glad that i made the investment and went with the full release. not one of the standout games i’ve played this year, but an enjoyable rhythm game and probably the best use of classical music in a game that i’ve seen yet.
jump through these maestro! jump in music links:
– review of the DSiware release at nintendolife.com
– apparently there was/is an iphone version, but i haven’t been able to find it in the itunes store nor find much info about it online. here’s a link that has some info about that version.