|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|
While we're on the topic of music, another thing about this title that really impressed me was the variety of tunes in the game. Since the game's music was all attributed to Japanese producer TSUNKU, I sort of expected the tunes to have a similar sound. However, nothing could be further from the truth. From the synth-pop sounds that accompany Shoot 'em Up to the mellow melodies of Love Lab, the tunes definitely expand upon TSUNKU's repertoire and are generally quite appealing. Although some of the English translations sound a little weird in songs with lyrics (compared to the original Japanese), these minor issues are forgivable.
The only issue that some may have with Rhythm Heaven is its difficulty. The game requires precise timing and movement, and you can fail a mini-game by just being off by mere fractions of a second. This is most evident in a mini-game like Rhythm Rally, where the main play mechanic involves striking a ping pong ball in time with the beat. Sounds simple right? Well, in Rhythm Heaven precision is the name of the game, and if you flick it with too long or too short of a stroke, the ball will go out. And forget about it if you are a moment or two offbeat; the ball will just whiz right past you.
Even though the difficulty is punishing, Rhythm Heaven does have a built-in buffer if you find one game just too difficult to beat. After you fail to get a passing rank three times in a row, the café icon on the main menu will light up. From there you can talk to the Barista and he'll ask you if you want him to unlock the next mini-game. You can always return to the mini-game you couldn't beat (or any mini-game for that matter), so this is a good way to move past a frustrating mini-game and will really help those who find some of the more precision-focused mini-games a bit too challenging.
One really defining characteristic of Rhythm Heaven is its visuals. One thing that struck me about Rhythm Heaven was how simplistic the visuals are; comparisons to WarioWare Touched are inevitable. For example, during the Glee Club mini-game, the visuals only consist of three hand-drawn choir members and a conductor. There is no color, and each character has a simplistic black outline that moves in time with the music. Although this is a bit of an extreme example, the visuals are always very simple, and no matter whether you are playing the singularly-colored Fillbots or brightly colored Fan Club, you will be continuously surprised by this game's ever-changing look.
Even though many people have questioned Nintendo's efforts to appease their core audience this generation, Rhythm Heaven proves that they are still capable of giving so-called hardcore fans a gaming experience worth remembering. Punishingly difficult, yet ostentatiously cute, Rhythm Heaven is the epitome of what a handheld music-based game should be. Forget guitar grips or funky cheerleaders! You won't find a more engaging or entertaining music experience for the DS. And why would you? This is Rhythm Heaven, after all!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor