Release Date: February 13, 2012
Sometimes when the buzz of a new console is fresh in the minds of gamers everywhere, the games that have yet to be released for the old one somehow always manage to get the short end of the stick. It doesn’t matter how good the game is– somehow, it’ll still get lost in the fray (well, except for Pokemon Red and Blue, but that was a unique case), and Rhythm Heaven Fever (or Beat the Beat: Rhythm Paradise as it’s known in Europe) is definitely one of the Wii games that have become overshadowed by all the Wii U hype that’s been looming around us since E3 2011.
For those who haven’t played the DS predecessor, Rhythm Heaven, this franchise is a bunch of quirky rhythm-related minigames with no clear storyline to them. They’re just set to music and make as little sense as is humanly possible. Its sequel (or third edition in Japan) amps this up to 11. There’s games where you’re a wrestler being interviewed, a pig spinning in a chair, tap dancing box headed dudes who like to yell “OKAY” a lot, a samurai trying to save a pinwheel or a stuffed bunny from a demon… the list goes on. Each game is different in its own right and they’re all hilarious.
But there are three things that really have worked against this game when it comes to being successful around here– the late generation release, the difficulty, and the altogether weirdness/overly cutesy looking graphics. As I’ve mentioned above, every console has at least one or two games that arrive later than most and end up being a little overlooked, but thankfully it really helps that a lot of video game systems have taken to backward compatibility, including Wii U, so perhaps there’s hope for Rhythm Heaven Fever yet. It may not be as extremely late generation as other games in the past, but considering the quality of Wii’s line-up has been going down the line for a while, it didn’t really have a lot going for it.
Another reason why a lot of people were put off by this game is its difficulty. As much as I hate to admit it, this game isn’t for everyone. If you have absolutely no sense of rhythm, you are going to have a tough time getting through this game. You need to be spot on with some of these games and even those who have excellent rhythm can get tripped up a lot. Passing the games is a little easier, though, even if some games are pretty unforgiving; it’s the medaling and perfecting when the difficulty really rears its ugly head– and if you want to try to get 100% in this game, you are going to have a very tough time. Even I haven’t been able to perfect this game. There’s something about Love Rap 1 and Love Rap 2 that throw me off all the time. I just can’t get it done.
Yep, that’s a cat and a dog playing badminton while flying a plane. It’s as crazy as it sounds.
The biggest reason of all, however, has to do with the look and feel of the game. It’s not one of those “Real is Brown” type of games. It’s not overly sexed up and it’s not considered high-quality polygon graphics. It’s merely a 2D game with a cutesy art style which can disguise the true difficulty that a lot of these games hold. There’s also the flat out weirdness of the minigames too. These minigames are weird. Very, very weird. TV Tropes considers this game to be a Widget game which is basically a way of saying it’s a Weird Japanese Thing. And they’re right. There’s a lot that doesn’t make sense at all– hell, even the translators were stumped about the Donk-Donk game. It’s colorful and nonsensical and not everybody tends to go for those things– but I do.
So enough about what Rhythm Heaven Fever has going against it. What did it have going for it and why do I consider it a forgotten gem? Let’s first focus on the most important aspect of the game– the music. My god, the music is fantastic. Tsunko, the music producer responsible for the Hello Project (one of the biggest J-pop acts out there), put together a fantastic soundtrack that is both catchy and fitting. Every song has its own charm and its own lovely beat to it. There also has to be a giant shoutout to the localization for the songs with lyrics. In the previous Rhythm Heaven game, the translations ranged from so-so to atrocious. This game, however, had some excellent localization. The lyrics made sense, kept the spirit of the original song, and the singers sounded like they were really into it. The only bone to really pick about the translation is about the Love Rap and that is mostly forgivable since that was probably the toughest one for them to figure out.
There’s also the quirkiness of each song. You see, I’m one of those people who enjoys the game’s weirdness. I like it when things don’t make sense or are just flat out bizarre. It makes life more interesting. I like that the mini-games involve a lot of mundane things being used as your own personal drum set. It kind of sends a message that rhythm can be found anywhere you want it to be found and in places you never even thought possible– although, I wouldn’t recommend playing Bossa Nova while others are in the house… they may get the wrong idea.
We’re not sure why there’s a baboon there, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
The biggest thing that Rhythm Heaven Fever has going for it, however, is easily the most important thing– the gameplay. Yes, it is difficult to master and can send you into tizzies of frustration, but the gameplay mechanics are pretty simple. You just use the Wii remote and you press A or A/B at the right time. This can be very deceptive to some folks. My sister had a world of trouble getting through the first two lines of mini-games because of this. The gameplay is easy but it’s also very fun and insanely addicting. I still find myself going back to my Wii more often than not just to play the game and try to get that perfect score. Even if I fail to do so, it’s still fun to try. And honestly, that’s all that matters when it comes to video games. Did you have fun? If you had fun, then it was worth it.
This game was a victim of the time that it was released– late in a generation’s run where the swan songs are overlooked for the fanfare of the new generation. The game, however, still stands as a fun and an extremely well-made rhythm game. It’s cute, strange, colorful, and deceptively hard. If you find yourself wanting to find a new game to play or wanting to get an Ultimate Wii Collection before the Wii U comes out, then I highly recommend this forgotten gem. It may be the newest of the gems, but it’s still on par on the level of fun.