I have no idea what the creators of Rhythm Heaven were on when they came up with the idea for this game, but I want some of it.
As with Earthbound, Rhythm Heaven is the second of the series, but the first to come out in North America and the UK. The first game, Rhythm Tengoku, came out for Japanese Game Boy Advance systems in 2006. The game was a pretty big hit there. Once the Nintendo DS came out, however, the game got to a whole new level with the usage of the touch screen. Regardless of its origins, the game is still awesome.
This game pretty much makes rhythm-based games out of mundane activities. In essence, this is the video game form of “A Spoonful of Sugar” from Mary Poppins. Doesn’t matter how silly the activity may be, it’s made even more epic thanks to the fantastic soundtrack and the surreality of it all. One minute you may be helping out a mating ritual of some strange looking lizards, the next you’re a nerdy science girl catching flasks from a cute nerd boy you have your eye on, and soon you’re a karate man whose getting pots and barrels thrown at him. There’s just so much crazy to shake a stick at.
If there’s one thing to hate about this game, it’s those darn Fillbots.
The strange thing about this game is that you can never completely give it up. You may stop playing for a while but there’ll come a day when you suddenly get the jonesing to play it again and suddenly it’s 4am and you’re trying to get a perfect on Fillbots 2, except those stupid backbeats always end up killing you. The creators of the game, Yoshio Sakamoto and the music producer Tsunko, surely put together a game that never quite grows old thanks to its ability to draw you back in.
When I first got this game, I only did so because I saw the commercial with Beyoncé in it. I’m not a Beyoncé fan by any means, but I saw some of the footage of the characters and I was like, “Wow, this looks like someone huffed some paint before they drew up the designs for this game. … I like it!” So, next thing I know, I’m at GameStop. Probably one of the best video game purchases I’ve ever made. (Super Mario Galaxy 2 is number one– my love for this game knows no bounds– Kirby’s Epic Yarn is second.)
Beyoncé– living proof that celebrity endorsements do work.
Despite my enthusiastic love for this game, I must admit I have a few bones to pick about it. First off, Fillbots 2 is so ridiculously hard to master. I’m a real stickler for getting 100% in a game, so the fact that I somehow cannot get a perfect on this minigame is really bothering me. It’s a small bone to pick but I’ll get over it. The only other bone to pick is the English localization of two of the songs. One of them is “Thrilling! Is this Love?”, in the Fan Club sections. First off, the lyrics are very clumsy, but they could be forgivable if the singer didn’t sound so bored. I’m sure they were trying to go for an innocent tone but– ugh, this is just painful. The concept of love, to the protagonist, is apparently like waiting to go to the dentist. Then there’s the godawful song from The Dazzles which is “Love Ooh Ooh Paradise”– making me try to get through this game unscathed because I hate the song so much. That being said, I love the localizations of “Young Love Rock & Roll” and “Struck By The Rain.”
One thing I really love about this game is that each little minigame seems to have a narrative of sorts. The “Fan Club” one starts off with a girl starting out with her career, while the sequel features her being a big-time pop star with the same crazy fans. Meanwhile, in “Love Lab,” two nerdy science geeks fling flasks in the air as the song plays, as players watch the two fall in love. It’s just a great narrative despite there being no real words. You also have the “Munchy Monk,” who goes from just being a monk to becoming a circus performer by the time part two rolls around. It’s very quirky but it works, making a lot of the mini games that much more enjoyable.
Remixer Dale North makes “Love Lab” sound even better than it already does.
To pick my favorite song of all of these is pretty hard. I love the R&B ballad sound of “Love Lab,” I love the “Space Soccer” song, especially the country-sounding remix, and I love the ska fusion of the second Munchy Monk song. The Rockers song is great too, and I am a huge fan of the film noir-ish Remix 3, and Remix 10 is a fantastic medley of all the songs. However my favorite is still “Struck By The Rain,” in the Karate Man game. The fact that it’s my favorite game of them all doesn’t hurt either.
I’m pretty souped for Rhythm Heaven Wii, which is supposed to come out for the Wii in 2012. However, despite already being released in Japan back in July, there’s no set date for the releases in the North American, European, or Australian markets just yet. I hope that this doesn’t turn into another Mother 3 situation, in which non-Japanese audiences only get the middle game, though I doubt that would be the case since Rhythm Heaven did fairly well in the North American market. We’ll see how this one unfolds.
Rhythm Heaven is pure insanity on a stick and well worth your money if you like rhythm-based games– especially with its great soundtrack and quirky characters. Fans of WarioWare Inc. would do well to pick it up.