Saturday , May 18 2024
Touch and timing are crucial in this uniquely international musical mini game collection.

Nintendo DS Review: Rhythm Heaven

In Rhythm Heaven, you tap, hold, slide, or flick to the beat to gain “flow” and medals, which opens more musically staged mini-games. That’s your simple goal in this single player game, which has international appeal among several challenges pushing the touch and timing Nintendo DS capabilities. The sideways orientation helps you concentrate solely on stylus motions. The only other notable control is pressing L or R (depending if you’re right or left handed) to change a guitar pitch.

When the instructions state the game is “hard to explain, so let’s just play it”, you know you have some unique gameplay in your hands. Learning on the fly can be adventurous or disastrous, but thanks to great game design it’s definitely adventurous here. The challenge comes in the timing (for a high challenge, try to complete each stage without the beginning tutorial). Other common sense instructions like “tap to shut your yap” (in the “Glee Club” singing game) match the overall humor and tone.

You can enjoy more than 50 music related games that feature original compositions from Japanese singer/producer Tsunku, such as "The Possible and Canary Club". The visual styles match the strong music as players progress through the replayable stages in a simple grid reference format. Race cars, synchronized swimming, and monkeys in a crowd are some entertaining stages while the picking vegetable stage “Crop Stomp” and robot fueling stages provide more challenge. These varied stages are seamlessly woven into a comprehensive stage at the end of a group. It's a great addition to reward your work and galvanize these memorable musical stages in your head.

The stylus controls and varied visuals make this game (called Rhythm Tengoku in Japan and Rhythm Paradise in Europe) a perfect fit for the Nintendo DS. Flicking with the stylus probably has the highest challenge in the ping pong game. The sound cues match your gameplay victories or defeats while the visuals can even hinder your performance at times (e.g. when the assembly line “Built to Scale” stage reduces your visibility to a small circular window).

The game has solid unlockables, especially after you complete each stage or complete a mini-game challenge with a Superb score. The other decreasing grades you get are OK, Just OK, and Try Again. Rhythm toys and other songs add to the music’s appeal and overall replay value.

Rhythm Heaven is an easy pick-up-and-play title without a storyline or characters, though the playable characters are very memorable. You are also encouraged to take a break in the coffee shop which has browsable lyric sheets and character features. Even the credit sequence is a mini game. The challenges can be high but the music rewards are great.

Rhythm Heaven is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for comic mischief.

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