Within the past 5 years, music based video games have made a huge jump into the mainstream thanks to the Guitar Hero franchise. Nintendo attempted to jump on the music based video game bandwagon with Wii Music this past Fall, but the game met with less than favorable reviews by critics. Enter Rhythm Heaven.
As the title suggests, the gameplay is all about the timing to music. The DS is held on it’s side similar to how you would read a book. During gamplay, the left screen plays out the current scenario, while the right screen is used to tap to the desired rhythm. The types of inputs the player can perform are limited: tap, tap & hold, and flick. What the game requires you to do from these simple inputs is what makes this game so great.
The scenarios in Rhythm Heaven vary greatly. You can play space soccer, pick beets, or even be a back-up dancer to a frog singing duo. With a total of 45 original levels to play, it would be hard for most gamers to be bored with the game. Rhythm Heaven has you progress through 4 levels at a time. Once you pass the 4 levels, you then get to play a remix stage, which combines the 4 levels you just played into one. After each level is completed, the game will judge your performance and either give you a ‘Try Again’, ‘Just OK’, ‘OK’, or ‘Superb’. If you receive a ‘Superb’ rating, the game will award you with a medal, which then unlocks additional mini-games which include rhythm toys, endless games and guitar lessons. As you continue to play, the game will pick out a stage you received a medal in and challenge you to complete the level without any mistakes. Completing a stage with a perfect can unlock other items such as lyrics to songs, the songs themselves for playback later, or character info.
As you progress through the game, the difficulty will start to increase. The scenarios will require more of a precise rhythm to be performed. This could frustrate some players as not everyone was born with a sense of good rhythm. It’s a shame since the only way to access some of the more entertaining levels later on is to at least get a ‘Just OK’ in the levels you play. Although a ‘Just OK’ rating still requires you to do well on a particular level.
FINAL WORD: Rhythm Heaven is an addictive game that will keep you entertained for hours. Even though the difficulty could turn off some casual players, it’s still a game I believe should be experienced by anyone and everyone that owns a Nintendo DS / Nintendo DSi.