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Nintendo Fusion Tour: Hands-on With Elite Beat Agents

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Video games’ newest men in black are going to burst onto U.S. Nintendo DS systems this November when the top-secret Elite Beat Agents hit the scene. Fortunately, for those who have already imported the original, Elite Beat Agents serves as an entirely different game.

Basically redesigned from the ground up by iNiS, Elite Beat Agents is playing out to be more of a sequel than a port of the wildly popular Osu! Tatakae! Ouenden! While the game is not truly a sequel, the way the game plays is almost the only aspect identical between the two versions. Not only does the game sport new song tracks, but everything from the theme, presentation and situations have received the “westernization” treatment.

With redesigned characters, Elite Beat Agents casts a secret agency that peps people in need of assistance. The U.S. characters take more of a secret agent, black suit approach that strays from the black trench-coat wearing, cheerleading tough guys from Osu!

Elite Beat Agents has received a complete stage selection map makeover versus Osu!, featuring a rotating world (rotated with the touch screen) as opposed to the city landscape featured in the import version. The map definitely has more of a “U.S. feel” to it and the rotation seemed a tad easier to navigate than in Osu!

While the game looks different on the outside, thankfully, the meat of the game, the game play, stays completely intact in the conversion.

When the agents come across someone in need, it’s up to them to provide the motivational fuel needed to qualm someone’s stressful situation. Whether the group is helping a director film the next biggest thing at the box office or helping a dog find its way home, the player’s performance determines what happens during the course of the mission.

Numbered balls appear on the touch in time to the music being played in the stage. Most of the balls require the player to tap it just as a timing ring surrounding the ball encloses it completely (for music game players, much like Namco’s Technic Beat). However, two other commands eventually enter the mix. One will require players to stroke the stylus along a set path and another brings up a wheel that needs a number of feverish spins with the stylus to raise a meter to the top.

Every mission starts with a full performance meter and it’s up to the player to determine what happens to it from there. During play the meter gradually decreases automatically and refills with properly timed commands and decreases even more with failures.

If at any time the meter decreases all the way, the mission is failed and the person in distress becomes a complete victim of their situation. The meter is also divided in two by color – if you are in the green during a checkpoint, a “good” series of events occurs. However, if the meter is in the red when a break in the action occurs, the people you’re assisting will be subject to a little embarrassment or pain.

Nintendo has been recently marketing the game with previews and downloads and is giving the game even more exposure with its Nintendo Fusion Tour. The tour sports two Nintendo DS kiosks featuring Elite Beat Agents and a pair of headphones so you can actually hear the game among the rock bands and hustle of everything going on at the event. The version on tour goes far beyond the downloadable demo as it appears to be a final version – and if it isn’t, it’s very, very close to completion.

I played the version as long as I could and while I didn’t get the complete song list, I managed to gun down a good number of the recognizable U.S. tracks in the game (stage listed first, then song track):

Ahoy Mates! Sunken Delights and Adventure! – Y.M.C.A. (Village People)
A Pug’s Life! 400 Miles from Home! – Highway Star (Deep Purple)
Magic Meets Madness! The Show Must Go On! – Rock This Town (Stray Cats)
Trio of Mayhem! Love and Boyfriends! – Walkie Talkie Man (Steriogram)
Red Carpet Premier! Smash Hit or Box Office Crash!! – Makes no Difference (Sum 41)
Cry Wolf! Meterology and Parenting! – September (Earth, Wind and Fire)
Hey Taxi! To the Hospital and Hurry! – Sk8er Boi (Avril Lavigne)
Art and Beauty! Love and Happiness!? – I Was Born to Love You (Queen)

So far the only other known, confirmed song in the game is Livin’ La Vida Loca (Ricky Martin). If the U.S. song list is to be comparable to the import counterpart, stacking in at about 15 songs, then there is still a small chunk of songs to be uncovered.

If you can’t make it to the Nintendo Fusion Tour, you can still give Elite Beat Agents a try at any retail location that features a Nintendo DS Download Station. While the demo only lets you play two sections of a stage, it should give players a taste of what to expect from one of the most-imported DS games the system has ever seen.

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