|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Noise Factory||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atlus||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 6, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Neither action is particularly tough to do on its own, but combining the rhythm sequencing with continuously popping Ontama gets pretty hair-raising as the difficulty steadily increases. The first few songs take it easy on players with a gradual pace that allows you to basically switch your attention back-and-forth from inputting d-pad directions to collecting Ontama to fill the notes. Before long you'll be doing both simultaneously by using your peripheral vision.
Eventually, the notes will come continuously flying across the screen while the Ontama below appear in different locations that make it virtually impossible to keep up. When the action gets overwhelmingly crazy, you can blow into the mic to clear all the Ontama on-screen and focus on hitting the d-pad to input the steady stream of notes, but you're only able to do this a limited number of times per song. The gameplay moves interchangeably between high-stress frustrating and rocking fun. It's not the best rhythm game implementation out there, but the idea is definitely fresh, and it's good in short doses.
The musical selection in Ontamarama is a strange and unique blend of different styles which all possess a distinctly Japanese feel to match the anime art direction. There's a mixture of techno, jazz, pop, orchestral arrangements, and rock, among other musical genres. Towards the end, the inclusion of a few power metal and thrash tracks get the blood pumping. They're pretty awesome and worthy of some brief head banging. The main quest is unfortunately very short, but a solid variety of un-lockables make replay a must. In Freeplay mode you can go back and try your favorite tunes on different difficulty settings while Challenge mode puts you up against different groupings of several foes which must be defeated in rapid-succession. New songs can be unlocked in addition to bonus items which give you different advantages during replay. Sadly, multi-player gameplay is non-existent.
Ontamarama is a cute, quirky, and incredibly challenging addition to the rhythm game genre, yet there is definite room for improvement. A lengthier story mode, some minor tweaks to the gameplay, and the addition of a multi-player mode would all go a long way towards making it a more solid game. Rhythm game fans should at least give it a spin so they see what they're missing, but with some refinement an eventual sequel will hopefully offer a more rewarding experience.
CCC Freelance Writer