Rhythm Heaven

Take one shot of PaRappa the Rapper's Simon Says-esque gameplay, a few dashes of WarioWare's fast-paced, addictive mini-games and top it all off with a hefty dose of Elite Beat Agents' off-the-wall touch screen mechanics

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Nintendo Rhythm Heaven
  • Nintendo Rhythm Heaven
  • Nintendo Rhythm Heaven
  • Nintendo Rhythm Heaven

Pros

  • Quirky, fresh, and entirely original; downright addicting

Cons

  • Slight difficulty curve; prepare for odd looks on the bus

Bottom Line

A portable gamer through-and-through, I'm pretty used to playing any number of DS or PSP games during my daily bus journeys. Rhythm Heaven, however, may be the first title that's officially engrossed me enough for me to not only miss my regular stop altogether, but find myself the victim of a "Last stop!" call, dumping me a good thirty miles from the GamePro offices. Trust me — it doesn't look good on an expense report.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 1 store)

Take one shot of PaRappa the Rapper's Simon Says-esque gameplay, a few dashes of WarioWare's fast-paced, addictive mini-games and top it all off with a hefty dose of Elite Beat Agents' off-the-wall touch-screen mechanics (shaken, not stirred), and you've got a delightfully original experience with Nintendo's DSi flagship title, Rhythm Heaven.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah!"

As a gamer, I'm always looking for innovation in the industry. From blood-spattered Wii slaughter-fests to disgruntled rappers searching for jewel-encrusted craniums, as long as a game has something imaginative enough to stand out from the rest of the generic shovelware crowd, you can count me in. Enter Rhythm Heaven: a unique (to say the least) collection of mini-games from the people that brought you the prestigious WarioWare franchise, not to mention original tunes from Japanese pop sensation Tsunku.

A sequel to the Japanese-exclusive GBA title Rhythm Tengoku, Rhythm Heaven takes the quirky mini-game-centric interface from the overseas original and masterfully integrates the DS' touch-screen controls into the title, leading players to tap and flick their way to victory through a series of charming mini-games. From fuelling up robots in tune with a mechanical cadence to taking control of crooning Moai heads, Rhythm Heaven exudes one-of-a-kind charisma that's guaranteed to keep your stylus tapping well in sync with your toes.

Can't stop, won't stop

Each "stage" in Rhythm Heaven consists of four unique mini-games, each featuring a specific beat and/or tune. Once all four mini-games have been cleared, you move onto a "Remix", which plays as a mash-up of the stage's previous challenges, integrating all of the melodies you've heard so far into an oddly alluring, and incredibly accessible symphony where you act as conductor. This may mean tapping in sequence as a space ship blows alien menaces out of the sky, or suddenly flicking the DS stylus to the tempo of a ping-pong rally. Each mini-game finds new and inventive ways to take advantage of the DS' touch screen technology, with each mini-game proving zanier and more creative than the last. It's also worth mentioning that the game's graphical style changes from game to game — one minute a squiggly black and white chorus line, the next a colourful, cartoony group of synchronised swimmers.

While the infectious beat is enough to get players absorbed into the melodious mini-games, Rhythm Heaven's difficulty curve is sure to turn some gamers away. There aren't any difficulty settings for the harmonically challenged, so if you're bad at a certain mini-game you're going to have to either power your way through to an "OK" rating, or wait for the game to take pity on you after three failed attempts and simply skip it altogether. While I could really drag the game's difficulty curve into a larger argument, the more I played through even the trickiest mini-games, I found the skills that I'd built and the basics that I'd learned incredible helpers as I progressed further into the title.

And the beat goes on...

Still, with such a wide selection of games to choose from with over 30 core mini-games, not to mention medals to win, "Perfect" ratings to earn, and incredibly simple yet insanely engaging Endless Games and Rhythm Toys to unlock (never thought I'd spend two hours digitally flicking a coin in tune with an ever-changing tempo), Rhythm Heaven is a must-own for handheld gamers everywhere, plain and simple, and a welcome breath of fresh air for the gaming scene in general.

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