|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nintendo||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nintendo||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 5, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
to Rhythm Greatness
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
Although Nintendo's current-generation game catalog is a bone of contention among contemporary gamers, occasionally a title comes along that restores the commitment that Nintendo has to its core audience. If WiiMusic was Nintendo's must-have music game for the casual audience, than Rhythm Heaven is the title that all hardcore rhythm enthusiasts must own. It features plenty of rhythm-inspired mini-games that are modeled after the WarioWare brand of craziness, and the precision required to play this game is absolutely insane.
The format of the game is simple. You play a singular rhythm-based mini-game, and then you get a ranking ranging from "Try Again" and "OK" to "Superb" and "Perfect". As long as the ranking is "OK" or above, you will be able to unlock the subsequent mini-game. The game does not have branching paths or alternate unlock methods, but I have to say that the linear structure works fairly well here. The mini-games increase in difficulty as you go on, so having an alternate progression wouldn't make much sense here.
But of course, as with any handheld rhythm game, the control is what really sells this game. You hold the game vertically (like you would for BrainAge or Ninja Gaiden) and use the touch screen exclusively for control. There are only two different actions that you can take to control the game, which are to tap and flick. The tap motion is pretty straightforward, but the flick will require some practice. The game compares the flick motion to making the tail of a check mark, which is fairly accurate. But being able to control your flick motion will take some time, so don't be afraid of the flick practice mode; I know I spent some considerable time there myself.
However, even though there are only two different control inputs in the game, each mini-game requires different actions, and the controls change for each one. For instance, the Glee Club mini-game requires you to hold down the stylus on the screen and tap it when you want your onscreen character to open their mouth. However, a game like Shoot 'Em Up requires you to tap the screen quickly to repeat a beat and shoot down enemies. Although both of these mini-games use the same tapping principal, it is used in extremely different ways. Luckily, there is a thorough tutorial that is presented before each mini-game, so you won't ever be thrust into a game without a solid idea of what to do.
Even though there are plenty of mini-games in Rhythm Heaven to keep you busy, once you finally do unlock all the games, the actual challenge begins. Rhythm Heaven has a medal system that awards players for getting high or perfect scores on individual mini-games. When you earn a medal, you can use it to unlock bonus mini-games found in the extras menu. You can unlock "Endless" games to play with that resemble other mini-games from the main game, or you can unlock special Rhythm Toys, like a swipe-able business card or musical telephone.
However, the best of these extras has to be the Jukebox (which is accessible via the Café menu.) When you score perfectly on a mini-game, you will unlock the song that goes with the game. And believe me, these songs are catchy. The Jukebox mode is definitely a huge plus in the game, and you can even shuffle songs around you have unlocked and just listen to the music.