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Rhythm Heaven DS Review

15/06/2009 Family Eclectic Gamer Review
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Rhythm Heaven DS

Rhythm Heaven



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Family Gamer (DS)
Reluctant Gamer (DS)

For those gamers who want a series of musical mini-games that don't require a guitar, drum set, or a spare room for all the accessories, Nintendo's Rhythm Heaven will perfectly fit the bill. In fact, even those gamers who are diehard Guitar Heroes or members of a Rock Band might find that Rhythm Heaven makes a handy adjunct to build the skills required in keeping a steady beat.

Rhythm Heaven is unlike any other game I've ever played. Holding the DS open like a book, you play a series of short musical games. Each game has its own song and the animation plays out on the left screen, while you tap or flick the stylus on the right screen to keep the beat.

You must perform well enough on the current song to unlock the next song, although there is a helpful little cheat where, if you've crashed and burned at least three consecutive tries, the game's barista yes, there's a barista will ask if you want to skip that level and move ahead. There are only a limited number of times you can take advantage of this, so be wary.

Rhythm Heaven is unlike any other game I've ever played. Holding the DS open like a book, you play a series of short musical games.

Sounds easy enough, yes? It's actually maddeningly challenging at times, despite the tutorials that accompany each game. I must have played the pingpong game 25 times before I passed on to the next game. But each mini-game is so quirky in its own right that it provides powerful motivation to conquer your current level to see what the next one will bring.

There are lizards who must match their mating calls; a doggie ninja who slices vegetables in mid-air like some crazed chef; Easter Island Moai statues heads that like to sing doo-wop. Furthermore, when you don't perform well, you get heckled by the game. There's no sweet little 'Nice try' instead, you might see a message that says, 'If you were a soccer player, you'd be kept late after practice.'

Once you master a level, you'll want to keep going back to the game to perform better, win medals, and eventually reach perfection on the game. That gold box around the game's icon flashing 'perfect' is so pretty.

The animation in Rhythm Heaven is pleasingly retro. The figures are intentionally clunky-looking, which sent me back to my days playing Space Invaders and Pacman. And the music is diverse, fun, and infectious. My kids have been singing the 'Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol' song from the first game 'Built to Scale.'

My own brood has loved playing the game themselves as well as watching me play.

Which brings me to the kids. My own brood has loved playing the game themselves as well as watching me play. As a gamer of relatively advanced age, I've been able to master most of the levels relatively quickly (even if I am currently stuck on Remix 6). However, my kids have yet to make it out of the 'Built to Scale' game in which you flick pegs into bolts assembly-line style.

Now, this is pretty easy to fix because you can always let the kids try the games logged in as you, assuming you've gotten further than they have. That's if you're a nice parent. Me? I confess, I'm torn at the idea of sacrificing my hard-earned score while they flail at the different games, simply in the name of family harmony. If they haven't succeeded in five more tries, I suppose I'll give in. Failing that I may placate them with some of the slightly easier, although no less quirky, Elite Beat Agents DS action.

Rhythm Heaven is heavenly to play, but with a little bit of the devil thrown in for good measure. Remix 6, I will master you.

Written by Clare Sharpe

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Clare Sharpe writes the Eclectic Gamer column.

"I think it's probably true that most of us have grown up with computer games - I have a dark and distant memory of some sort of black box with two controllers that allowed us to play an extremely primitive and pixelated game of tennis."

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