|System: DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Success||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Agetec Inc.||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 23, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Rhythm 'n Notes is supposed to teach you about music. We're talking music theory, not rhythm or dancing games. And any similarities to games such as Guitar Hero or Karaoke Revolution are merely wishful thinking.
The game is aimed at a very limited market to begin with, and further alienates this demographic through the lack of detailed instructions, coaching, and overall presentation which is rife with design flaws. If this is your first introduction to music theory, I would not recommend this game. It just doesn't give you enough information on the subject. Those that would get the most out of this game would already have some general understanding of music theory. A well-developed ear wouldn't hurt either.
Rhythm 'n Notes is divided into two sections: Rhythm and notes. How would you ever guess? The rhythm part is more closely related to an actual game. You will have to play back various rhythm patterns that you hear by tapping on the touchscreen. As for the notes, you will have to recognize the various notes in a chord that's played on the virtual piano. A chord consists of three or more notes sounded at one time. It's difficult enough to recognize one note let alone three. That's why there is so much trial and error in this gameplay. Those who may already be gifted with perfect pitch will have little to gain by playing this game, and those who wish to attain perfect pitch, will be advised to dream on since you won't develop it here.
Ear training will help develop one's sense of pitch, but don't expect miracles. Most of us have what is called relative pitch. It's the ability to perceive pitch by basing it on an already established pitch. That's why you may see a choir use a pitch pipe to establish a key. Or a singer may ask as a guitarist to play a "G chord" for example, to get them in the proper key signature of the upcoming song. Those who are more interested in developing their singing skills than learning a musical instrument are advised to check out karaoke video games that have pitch meters. They determine how sharp or flat your pitch is. This is a much more effective way to train your ear as the results are immediate. I feel that Rhythm 'n Notes should come with a disclaimer as to all of the things that it doesn't offer.
There is no tutorial in Rhythm 'n Notes, and there is little in the way of instructions. You're not coached in your progress, or lack thereof. Despite the overly cute lady-beetle that acts as the hostess, the game has a very cold vibe to it. Perhaps that lady-beetle should be replaced with a strict nun holding a ruler in her hands just waiting to smack you if you hit a wrong note. That would be more in keeping with the feel of this game. You have to score perfectly in order to progress. One wrong answer and you have to start over, so if you get something wrong, which you will be informed of immediately, you might as well abort and start over again since that's what you'll have to do anyway.
In the Notes part of the game, a piano chord will sound. You will then have to pick out that same chord from a series of other chords that the game will play for you. You don't have to identify the chord, they are never named, you only have to identify the sound of it. All of the notes that comprise the chord are identified onscreen since the graphics show the three notes on a virtual keyboard. Even if you don't play piano, you can eventually learn to associate each key with a letter. It takes a bit of practice, but it's not rocket science. Unfortunately learning all of the notes on the piano won't help you with this game. Not only that, but there's nothing in this game to help associate these notes with any kind of musical theory. You may learn something from playing this game, but the game makes it clear that it's your responsibility to determine what exactly it is that you learned.